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Syrian Kurds find refuge in Iraq’s Kurdish region
Question of the Day
It is another front in the complex Syrian civil war.
Turkey continues to support the rebel Free Syrian Army, but ethnic Kurds in Syria are distrustful of the predominately Sunni Arab rebels. Clashes between Syrian Kurdish rebels and Sunni Arab militias have erupted over the past several months.
Last year, Mr. Barzani helped create the Syrian Kurdish National Council as a bulwark to the Democratic Union Party, but there is been little progress on forging unity, as the factions remain divided.
At the same time, Mr. Barzani’s Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party, with its flags flying in the Domiz camp, has taken a hard line against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, listed as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and Turkey.
Eager trading partners
Despite its uneasiness with an ethnic Kurdish political entity on its borders, Turkey remains an important economic partner for the Kurdish region. It is eagerly trading goods in exchange for hard currency and oil shipments. The Kurdish region has potential oil reserves of about 45 billion barrels, about one-third of the amount in southern Iraq.
Turkey recently sent its foreign minister to visit the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil, Iraqi Kurdish leaders threw a party for Turkish business leaders this month on the anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic.
“Turkey’s policy of cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan is not a tactical move, but it reflects a continuing strategy,” said Aydin Selcen, Turkey’s consul-general in the Kurdish region, in a speech to mark the occasion.
“Turks don’t accept us, so we came to the Kurdish area,” said Ahmad Ibrahim, a 30-year-old barber who has set up shop in the camp.
Earlier this month, Mr. Barzani called on Kurdish factions in Syria to cease fighting and work toward a common purpose. Syria’s Kurds, who make up 10 percent of the population, do not have the numbers or clout to hold territory and will need to unify as soon as possible, said Mr. Pope of the International Crisis Group.
“At the end of the day, [Syria’s Kurds] are going to have to come to some sort of deal with whoever rules Syria,” he added. “But in the meantime, they’re trying to consolidate their hold on as much territory as they can get.”
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