Syrian Kurds poised to start next stage of Greater Kurdistan?


Kurdish fighters in northern Syria say they have captured a key town from Islamic State, just 50km (30 miles) from the group’s headquarters at Raqqa.

A spokesman for the the Popular Protection Units (YPG) said Ain Issa and its surrounding villages were now under the militia’s “total control”.


The YPG captured the town of Tal Abyad on the Turkish border last week, cutting a major supply line for IS.

Via Michael Totten. Let’s go take a look at a map. Yellow is Syrian Kurds, slightly darker yellow is Iraqi Kurds, grey is Islamic State (IS), every other color is irrelevant for purposes of this conversation.

Northern Iraq Syria

Erbil is the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Zone. Kirkuk is the formerly-Kurdish city that the Kurds are quote-unquote ‘temporarily’ in charge of while the current situation is going on. Mosul is the formerly-Kurdish city that IS controls, and that the Kurds would quite like to ‘temporarily’ liberate. And Raqqa, of course, is the Syrian city that is the HQ for Islamic State.  As you can see from the map, as usual in the region it’s all about who controls the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers: Raqqa is along the latter, and losing it would be a genuinely big deal for Islamic State. It’s not what territory you control in that region; it’s what useful territory you control that’s worthwhile. IS is concentrated along the rivers for a reason, in other words.

And the truth of the matter is, if IS gets pushed downstream in the west, Mosul starts looking a good deal more vulnerable in the east.  And if the Kurds in Syria control more territory, and the Kurds in Iraq start pushing out to their traditional territories, all of a sudden you have something in the Middle East that looks just like an organic nation-state. Presumably one that ends up being a client of Turkey’s, but that’s another post.

…Mind you, I don’t speak any of the languages, don’t know the customs and the cultures very well, have never visited the region, have never taken even a formal course in military strategy, and very possibly have no idea what in God’s name I’m talking about. And, frankly: I’d like to have an independent Kurdistan show up there, at this point. So take all of this with as much salt as you like.

Moe Lane

4 thoughts on “Syrian Kurds poised to start next stage of Greater Kurdistan?”

  1. Considering the snit fit that Edrogan threw the other day, he certainly thinks so.
    And obviously likes the idea a great deal less than a triumphant ISIS.

  2. Looking at the map, the places up-river are very important, for there (as I can see) are where the dams are. The dams mean water which is more important than oil in the history of these lands. The party that controls the dams controls life.

  3. Back in the day you’d have said that a couple mechanized divisions could turn Mosul into Stalingrad in about six hours, but first you have to have someone who has a couple mechanized divisions and even we seem to have trouble with the concept of scale these days.

    1. *We* do, yes .. we’ve gotten far too used to automation.
      Other cultures, ones that are .. less used to automation .. just need the hardware and some cultural cues for teamwork.

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