In the most pressing days of the Syrian civil war, the Syrian regime, which had difficulty in ensuring the territorial integrity of the country, intentionally left rural regions to terrorist organizations under the guidance of Iran.
With Iran and Assad seemingly pleased with the expansion of Daesh from Iraq to Syria, the Syrian regime left the northern regions of the country in the hands of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), i.e. the Syrian offshoot of the terrorist PKK. As Turkey was battling the PKK, the regime entrusted land it could not control to a reliable friend.
Indeed, the Syrian regime only considers the truly patriotic Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Salafi groups supported by Saudi Arabia as enemies and treats the PKK/PYD as half-ally. Also noteworthy is the regime's rather open support for Daesh, while it was solely active in Iraq.
Today, almost 750,000 Syrian Kurds live in Turkey. One quarter of the existing Kurdish population live in territories forcefully taken from Arabs and Turkmens by the PYD through Stalin-like ethnic cleansing, as all groups opposing the PYD along with the supporters of Barzani were expelled to Iraqi territory.
To lessen the Syrian regime's military burdens and keep Turkey occupied with the PKK, along with the prospective Kurdish cantons in Syria, the PYD was openly supported by the Syrian regime.
On the other hand, the Obama administration and Iran, despite not being allies, appeared to be dealing under the table, in Syria and Iraq. However, that implicit partnership was exposed not only in the international war against Daesh, but also in their relations with the PYD.
The U.S. has taken full control and responsibilities of the PYD in Syria, which was initially supported by Iran. While Iran put the PYD at Obama's disposal, the U.S. still had the option of mobilizing the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) in Iran.
Meanwhile, to Iran and the Syrian regime's disappointment, Turkey succeeded in inflicting deadly blows on the PKK. In particular, through its Operation Euphrates Shield, Turkey not only eliminated Daesh in al-Bab, but also smashed the PKK's dream of uniting its Syrian cantons.
In the meantime, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lost much of its political influence in Turkey due to its inability to produce prudent policies independent of PKK influence.
It is encouraging, however, that the ceasefire established under the guidance of Turkey, Russia and Iran continues to be effective against all odds. Yet, the political expectations of different parties in the Syrian civil war widely differ from each other. The U.S. does not seem to be happy with the fact that Russia took the upper hand in Syria due to the inability and hesitancy of the Obama administration. While Turkey, Iran and the Syrian regime all support Syria's territorial integrity, the U.S. and Russia's aims appear to be highly ambiguous, in this respect.
At this point in the Syrian crisis, 6 million Syrian people have taken refuge in foreign countries. It is obvious that these refugees would want to return home as soon as the Syrian civil war comes to an end. Yet, the question remains as to how Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds, supporting Barzani, will be able to return to lands that were forcefully taken away from them by the PYD?
Founded by Iran and supported by the U.S., the PKK will continue to be a serious problem in Syria. Obama's inability to take control of things in Syria, and Iran's dream of re-establishing the Persian Empire led both the U.S. and Iran to play with fire, and we will see the real winner of this complicated chess game in not the so distant future.
Still, if I were a Syrian refugee, taking shelter in a foreign country, I would simply feel devastated by the political tolerance foreign powers' have shown towardterrorist organizations.
About the author
İhsan Aktaş is Chairman of the Board of GENAR Research Company. He is an academic at the Department of Communication at Istanbul Medipol University.