Turkey’s Kurdish Gamble

By Scott Morgan

By their recent actions, a casual observer can assume that the Turkish Government has been playing both sides in the struggle against the Islamic State and, now, they are concerned that some of their actions will come back to haunt them.

Recent capture of Weapon Caches by SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) in the area around Tabqa were discovered to be stocks captured from the Syrian Government Forces, of which a substantial quantity bore Turkish inscriptions and were, in some cases, Turkish made copies of US made weapons. This has gone against the narrative Ankara was stating that the SDF were in fact providing US made weapons to the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) operating in Southeastern Turkey.

It has become clear that the current Turkish leadership fears any form of Kurdish Independence anywhere in the region. After the failed coup attempt, in July 2016, against President Erdogan an offensive against the PKK began shortly thereafter. But there is an area where the Kurds are planning Independence and the Turks are preparing to do anything in their power not only to defeat the upcoming referendum but to actually prevent it from taking place all together.

On September 25, the Kurds in the Northern Part of Iraq are scheduled to hold a referendum on Independence. There are several other factors at play here besides a combination of Turkish fear and ignorance. There are other factors at play such as the inability of the Iraqi Army to actually take on ISIS as it first rose to power, the status of the Assyrians and other religious minorities who had the misfortune of being used as pawns by the Kurds, and the Iraqi Government to enlist aid from outside sources.

Regardless of what happens in Northern Iraq the Assyrian Community, along with the Yezhdis and other religious minorities, have to be able to defend and govern themselves at a bare minimum. The level of mistrust that has been growing among these people who wish to remain in their homes and not leave the region as refugees is a major underlying concern that may determine the outcome of the referendum.

However, Turkey does appear to have its own ally in this endeavor - that would be the Islamic Republic of Iran. Already the nations have been tacit allies during the fighting against ISIS in both Northern Iraq and in Syria. There are reports that the senior military leaders of both nations recently met to discuss a joint strategy about how to defeat the proposed referendum. Neither country want to have a free and independent Kurdish State in the region as they fear it will fan similar flames in their respective countries.

The best description of what is going on in Northern Iraq and Syria is that nature abhors a vacuum. The civil war in Syria and the petty bickering in Baghdad, along with a decreased presence of the United States, allowed for this long simmering issue to emerge. So far, attempts to tamper down these efforts for Independence have been able to temporarily halt this process. But what happens if it fails?

(Image: edited - Google Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]


  1. Morgan,

    I only have one thing to say: the Kurdish People have the right to self-determination. But it's funny how the world denies them that Right while granting it to a fake people (with no history, no identity, no past currency, no traditional language nothing) like the so-called Palestinians. What is wrong with this world?


  2. In spite of Turkey's and Iran's interference, I hope the referendum goes ahead and I hope it paves the way for Kurdish Independence. Like we say here at DS: it's time for territorial justice.


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