The head of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, said that the Kurds of Syria (PYD and YPG) are closely tied to the Kurds of Turkey (PKK). He went even further and said that the Americans are well aware of this fact, even though they will not admit it. However the Americans said for one more time that the Kurds of Syria and the Kurds of Turkey are two separate things, and that did not please neither Turkey nor the Iraqi Kurds who export their oil to Turkey. See Rudaw “US insists that PKK and PYD are “two separate entities”, March 2016.
Map 1 Kurdistan
Obviously the recent attacks of the Kurds of Turkey (PKK) at the pipeline that carries the oil of the Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey, and the recent PKK declaration that it will not allow the new natural gas pipeline which is promoted by the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds, must have really angered the Kurds of Iraq. The Kurds of Syria and the Kurds of Turkey do indeed cooperate, as the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds are saying, but it is one thing to know that this is true, and it is another thing to hear the Kurds of Iraq openly admitting it alongside the Turks.
I do not know if there is already a civil war between the Kurds, but even if there isn’t, it seems possible that it might be on its way. I always say that the Kurds of Iraq need the Turks to export their oil, and they hope they will soon export their gas too in the near future i.e. in 2019 according to the plan. The poor in oil and gas Kurds of Turkey and Syria do not need Turkey and they cooperate with the Russians. The Americans also cooperate with the Kurds of Syria and Iraq but not with the Kurds of Turkey.
Whether a Kurdish civil war will arise depends on whether a solution will be reached in Syria between Turkey and Russia. If the confrontation between Russia and Turkey intensifies it is very likely that a Kurdish civil war will take place, with the Kurds of Iraq on the side of Turkey, and the Kurds of Turkey and Syria on the side of Russia. At least that’s a reasonable hypothesis to make in March 2016. The Iranians have proposed the Kurds of Iraq a Kurdish-Iranian pipeline, in order to put the Kurds of Iraq in the same axis with the Kurds of Syria and the Kurds of Turkey, but also to exert pressure on Turkey. But for the Kurds of Iraq the poor in oil and gas Turkey is the ideal partner, and not the extremely rich in oil and gas Iranians.
As I said the Kurds of Syria are supported by the Russians, the Americans and the Europeans, and it seems very difficult for the Turks and the Sunni Islamists of Syria (ISIS) to avoid the creation of a Kurdish state of some form in Syria.
The Russians want to use the Kurds of Syria to seal the Turkish-Syrian borders, in order to prevent the construction of the Arab-Turkish (Sunni) pipelines, and they also want to use the Kurds of Turkey (PKK) to block the pipelines from the Middle East and the Caspian Sea to Turkey.
Map 2 Pipelines
The Americans are much closer to the Turks than the Rusisans when it comes to their energy policy, but contrary to the Turks the Americans would be very happy to see a Kurdish state of some form in Syria, and they support the Kurds of Syria against the Sunni Islamists of Syria (ISIS), who are in turn supported by the Turks.
The Americans would also be very happy to see the Arab-Turkish pipelines going ahead, but they know they would have to fight a war with Russia to see that happening. Syria has been a Russian ally for many years, and the Russians would not allow without a war the Turks and the Arabs of the Gulf to use Syria’s Sunni part to harm vital Russian economic interests.
The Americans also know that if they suffice themselves to the creation of a Kurdish state in Syria, and they do not support the Arab-Turkish pipelines, the Russians will not bother them. That is tempting for the Americans, and it is more tempting given they do not like ISIS. The Americans would like a moderate Sunni state in Syria, but they do not like ISIS. Moreover if the Americans were to support the Turks too much, they would strain their relations with their new friends the Iranians. But what is most important I think is that the Russians will not allow the Sunni pipelines to pass from Syria without going to war.
But as far as the Kurds of Syria are concerned, Turkey and the Sunni Islamists of Syria i.e. ISIS of Syria, are facing Russia, Europe and the United States. And that’s too much of a problem to be handled by the Turkish army and ISIS in Syria, or by the ISIS bombings in Europe.
However it is still true that in the Kurdistan of Turkey the Americans and the Turks are still together. The Kurds of Turkey (PKK) are not supported by neither the Americans nor the Europeans, but only by the Russians. Of course it is true that some of the arms provided by the Americans and the Europeans to the Kurds of Syria might find their way to the Kurds of Turkey, and that’s why the Turks are accusing the Europeans and the Americans of indirectly supporting the PKK and therefore of being responsible by the Kurdish terrorist attacks in Turkey. But I believe that should not be very important when compared to the direct Russian support to the PKK.
On the issue of the Kurds of Syria, the Turks are saying that they will not tolerate a Kurdish state at their southern borders. But if Turkey decides to go against the Russians, the Americans and the Europeans in Syria, she might end up losing even her part of Kurdistan.
We must remember that it was Turkey and the Arabs of the Gulf that first tried to change the status quo in Syria, in order to go ahead with the Sunni pipelines. Their argument was that it is not fair for the Sunni majority of Syria to be under the authority of the Alawite minority of the Assad regime, and therefore they should be allowed to go ahead with their pipelines through the Sunni parts of Syria. But as I said the Russians say that Syria is one country, a traditional Russian ally, and that she cannot be used to hurt so vital Russian economic interests.
Map 3 Sunni Pipelines
If at some point there is indeed a Sunni federal state in Syria, but which does not allow the construction of the Sunni pipelines, due to demographic (Kurds of Syria) or geographic factors (deserts, mountains etc), and at the same time there is a federal Kurdish state in Syria, the foreign policy of Erdogan and Davutoglu will have proved catastrophic for Turkey. And it is reasonable to assume that the Russians will accept a Sunni federal state in Syria only if it does not allow the construction of the Sunni pipelines.
Map 4 The Situation in Iraq and Syria
In the mean time the Russians are proposing to the Turks the Turk Stream pipeline, in order for Turkey to become a new Ukraine for Russia, and in order to earn transit fees from the Russian gas. The Turks are not happy with this plan, and they are proposing the Russians to sell their gas to Turkey at low prices, and leave it to Turkey to decide to whom and what prices the Russian gas will be sold. But the Russians are not happy with this plan, and they want to be the ones who will make the deals themselves.
If at some point the Russians and the Turks manage to work things out, they will hurt their relations with Iran, because if they work things out it means they will also agree to block Iran’s access to the Mediterranean Sea.
“US insists that PKK and PYD are “two separate entities”, March 2016 http://rudaw.net/mobile/english/kurdistan/240320163