News / Middle East

US Pushes Syrian Kurds to Join Rebellion

As the Obama administration pushes to solidify Syria's political opposition, it also is working to improve ties between Syrian Kurds and groups battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Concentrating control in their own areas of northwest Syria, Kurdish leaders have been slow to join the broader rebellion against Assad, preferring to seek greater regional autonomy with Kurds in neighboring Iraq and Turkey.

Before the rebellion accelerated, Assad granted new political freedoms to Syrian Kurds who have long sought greater autonomy inside and outside of Syria.

Malou Innocent, a Middle East analyst with the Cato Institute in Washington, said that move put Syrian Kurds in a bind.

"This really put them on their heels, sort of said: 'Well, should we continue our assistance to the rebellion or should we actually stick this out and see if Assad continues to hold onto power?'" Innocent said.

Kurds reluctance

Kurdish leaders have quit previous efforts to unite the Syrian opposition, saying there has not been adequate regard for their autonomy.  Opposition leaders outside Syria say Kurds have not sufficiently committed to a unified post-Assad state.

"The relationship between the mainstream opposition in exile and Syria's Kurds has been largely antagonistic and very, very tense," said Steve Heydemann, a senior adviser for Middle East initiatives at the U.S. Institute of Peace. "And that gets back to this question of this mutual lack of trust."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the Obama administration encourages Assad opponents to include Kurdish colleagues.

"There are a number of reports from inside Syria of some of the liberated areas where Kurdish populations and Sunni populations are working well together," Nuland said. "That’s certainly the direction that we encourage."

U.S. policy varies

The U.S., however, varies its policies on Kurdish communities depending on their country.

In Turkey, there are concerns because Syria's largest Kurdish group is tied to the Kurdistan Worker's Party, which the European Union and Washington consider a terrorist organization.

And in Iraq, U.S. forces protected Kurds from Saddam Hussein, allowing the creation of a bustling Kurdistan over the past two decades.

Analyst Heydemann said Syrian Kurds have been slow to fully commit to the anti-Assad rebellion because they have broader goals involving Kurds in Turkey and Iraq.

"I don't think they intend to play the regime against the opposition," he said. "But they do feel that they have an opportunity to use this moment to try and advance some of their long-standing concerns that they don't feel either side has really responded to yet."

You May Like

Video Anti-Muslim Sponsor of Texas Cartoon Contest Draws Ire

Pamela Geller's supporters say she speaks truth about sensitive topic, while critics say she preaches 'that Islam is inherently evil' More

East Meets West in Exhibition Showing Chinese Influence on Fashion

Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition juxtaposes influence of art, imagery and culture, from Imperial China to the present day, on Western fashion and design More

South Africa Begins New Love Affair With Vinyl Records

Enthusiasts say the 'rebirth' of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Dr. Malek Towghi from: USA
November 24, 2012 2:27 PM
Given the uncertainty of the future of the Western / US support for the Kurds, it is not in the long-range interest of the the Kurds (of Syria particularly) to antagonize Iran and Russia and their allies (e.g. the Alawites/Shiites and the Christians) within the Arab world and Turkey.

Listing the PKK as a terrorist entity while baptizing the Iranian MeK (Mujahedin-e Khalq/gh) as 'born-again' Non-terrorist 'Freedom Fighters' is not something that can reassure the Kurds of the West's sincerity about the Kurdish cause. The Kurds know well that Americans and the Brits are always ready to finance and arm some Baluch (and Kurdish) mercenaries to fight against Iran while allowing Pakistan to continue its ethnic cleansing and slow genocide of the Baluch nation. Without Western diplomatic, financial and military support, Pakistan could never do what it did to the Bangladeshies -- and is doing to the Balochs, Sindhis and the Pashtuns..

No Sir, the Kurds and the Baluch do not want to be treated as mercenaries or puppets; they deserve to be treated as friends -- actually, the only sincere and dependable friends in that vast fanaticism-ridden region.

by: Anonymous
November 19, 2012 1:25 PM
The reality is far from what you will read on BBC,CNN,VOA,etc. I suggest people read alternate sources.

by: Shahin Sorekli from: Australia
November 17, 2012 12:54 AM
Your report entitled “US Pushes Syrian Kurds to Join Rebellion” is too general and contains several misinformation, such as “Assad granted new political freedoms to Syrian Kurds who have long sought greater autonomy inside and outside of Syria.” Assad did not grant any "political freedoms" to the Kurdish people in Syria before the Syrian uprising, neither have the Kurds of Syria been struggling for autonomy before the uprising.
Unfortunately such reports, even TV documentaries, have been misinforming people about the Kurds of Syria, their situation and their demands for quite some time. It is really disappointing, especially when the misinfrming comes from respectful sources such as VOA, BBC, DW and other well-known media organizations.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs