Throughout 2013, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the primary rebel organization fighting a civil war against President Assad’s Syrian Army forces, has become predominately manned by Al Qaeda avowed jihadists. These terrorists have now turned their guns on Syrian Kurds, which up until recently have attempted to remain neutral in the fight. As Kurds have been increasingly slaughtered by Islamic extremists in Syria, the number of refugees fleeing to Kurdistan in Iraq has massively increased. Some estimate well over 100,000 Kurdish refugees have now fled Syria. The murder of Kurds by the FSA marks another dark turn of events that will soon undermine US positions in the region.
Kurdistan and its capital of Erbil have remained the one region of the Middle East where Americans have enjoyed relatively good relations and security. In fact Americans are not even required to have a visa to enter Kurdistan where both Muslims and Christians live together in relative peace. Further, Kurdistan is a region seeing significant investment and business growth. The relative peace that has been maintained in Kurdistan has driven the oil and tourism markets currently fueling Kurdistan’s growth in a region where security is all too rare. The capital Erbil is a vibrant cosmopolitan city arising in the shadows of the distant snowcapped mountain peaks where westerners can find all of the trappings of modern day living.
Unfortunately, the relative peace and security Americans have enjoyed in Kurdistan will no doubt be coming to an end soon. The Kurds are acutely aware that the US is now actively supporting the FSA, which is massacring their people. As the Kurds flee death in Syria at the hands of Sunni Jihadists armed and trained by Americans they carry that knowledge to overflowing refugee camps now forming in Kurdistan and Turkey. These refugees have lost everything but their lives and are rightfully angry. It will only be a short period of time before they correctly identify the US as the primary catalyst behind their suffering. As anti-American sentiment solidifies, Americans will be targeted inside Kurdish regions, which until now, have been peaceful and supportive of Americans. In what will prove to be another policy disaster, this will force the one ally Washington still retains in the Middle East directly into the camp of the Iranians.
Turning the Kurds against the US will have dire second and third order effects for the US. Kurds will now have no choice but to join with Assad’s government forces. The Kurds are relatively good fighters when compared with other ethnic groups in the region and will no doubt prove to be a potent ally for Assad. This will significantly swell the number of fighter’s Assad has at his disposal and hasten the defeat of the rebels. This will force Washington to directly enter the Syrian conflict to avert a complete route of its proxy army. Further, this will accelerate the regionalization of this conflict beyond the borders of Syria as Iraqi Sunnis battle Iraqi Kurds in Iraq and Iran consolidates the Kurds as their new ally against the Arabs. Americans in Turkey will also become much more likely to be targeted by Kurdish groups seeking revenge and to force an end to US support of Al Qaeda terrorists in Syria. This destabilization will force Turkey to take a more adversarial role toward US policy in the region, which can only complicate matters more for the US.
By Guiles Hendrik
August 25, 2013
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