The Rearrangement of Northeastern Syria and Signs of Rifts in the PKK

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 18 November 2019

“SDF commander “General Mazlum Kobani” (the PKK executive official Ferhat Abdi Shahin) being interviewed by AFP in Hasaka city, 24 January 2019 [image source]

Even by the standards of Syria’s complicated war, October 2019 was a tumultuous month. The contradictions inherent in the U.S. effort to conduct a counter-terrorism war against the Islamic State (IS) divorced from the realities of the underlying conflict erupted into view.

Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria on October 6 and effectively green-lit a Turkish incursion, codenamed Operation Baris Pinari (Peace Spring), which began on October 9. Trump then changed course, applying sanctions on Turkey for moving against the United States’ Kurdish partner force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the political and legal cover for the blacklisted Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (See TM, June 14).

There was a week of fighting, with Turkish troops and their Arab proxies, the Syrian National Army (SNA), taking over the Tel Abyad-Ras al-Ayn zone, an Arab-majority corridor that had formed the link between Kobani and Qamishli—two core Kurdish-majority parts of “Rojava”, as the PKK calls its Syrian statelet.

Read the rest at the Jamestown Foundation

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