The Kurdish Issue in Turkish-Syrian Relations in the Context of the Syrian Crisis

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Abstract


The article is devoted to the Kurdish issue in the context of bilateral relations between Turkey and Syria after the start of the 2011 Syrian crisis. Particular attention is paid to the role of the Kurdish issue in the Turkish-Syrian relations. The author describes the Turkish policy on the Kurdish problem and its place in the context of Turkey’s national interests. The article covers gradual development of the Syrian-Kurdish policy of Turkey and dynamics of relations between Ankara and Damascus in the context of strengthening the Kurdish national movement in Syria. The activities of the Kurdish political parties and organizations in the northern and northeastern part and the development perspective of the Kurdish issue are especially analyzed. Turkey’s relations with Syria, Iran, Iraq, where Kurds live, have always been based on the Kurdish issue. Contrary to the differences and conflicts between Kurdish parties in the Middle East, the Kurdish issue is regional in nature. In addition to being a domestic political problem, Turkey considers the Kurdish issue as a foreign policy problem. Turkey presents its fight against the Kurdish PKK forces as a fight against terrorist forces, seeing the intensification of political and military activities of the Syrian Kurds as a direct threat to its national security. Over the past years, Turkish-Syrian relations have substantially changed and transformed from strategic partnership to militarypolitical confrontation. Despite the existing contradictions, Turkey and Syria have common interests, including the Kurdish issue, the stability of the region, the predictability of the development of political events in the Middle East region, and economic relations. However, regardless of the outcome of the Syrian war, Turkey needs a predictable Syria without a strong Kurdish element. The Syrian crisis has given new opportunities to the Kurds of Syria in terms of strengthening their positions, but clearly demonstrated the problems existing in the way of creating a Kurdish state. Currently, the preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria allows taking into account the interests of all parties involved in the conflict, including external players.


About the authors

Anna Garnukovna Gevorgyan

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.
Email: gevorgyan-ag@rudn.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

Assistant, the Department of Theory and History of International Relations

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