The issue of US withdrawal from the region, which began with the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the end of thier combat mission in Iraq, has caused concern among Kurdish officials in Iraq and Syria. This is especially important given the US alliance with the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, including in the fight against ISIS. Meanwhile, some senior Syrian Kurdish officials, including Mazlum Kobani, commander-in-chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, have called on the Biden government to persuade the Kurds in Turkey and Ankara to resume the peace process. In a recent interview, Kobani stressed that US mediation in the Kurdish issue in Turkey could have a positive impact on improving the Syrian Kurdish relationship with the Turkish government.
To investigate these issues, Kurdpress news agency talked to Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley, a professor of sociology at the University of Cambridge and an expert on Kurdish issues, as well as Dr. Guney Yildiz, a researcher on Kurdish issues at the Middle East Institute, about the issues raised. Dr. Thomas Jeffrey Miley and Dr. Guney Yildiz, a Kurdish researcher in London, have jointly answered the questions.
Thomas Jeffrey Miley is a lecturer in political sociology at the University of Cambridge and a member of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) executive board. His research interests include nationalisms, religion and politics, and empirical democratic theory.
Guney Yildiz is a researcher and journalist based in London with a focus on Turkey, Syria and the Kurds in the Middle East. He works for BBC News and is a Non- Resident Fellow with the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, D.C.
The difference in Biden's approach towards the Kurdish with those of Obama and Trump
About the difference in current US President Joe Biden's approach towards the Kurds with those of former US Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the expert told Kurdpress that "We think there is a difference between the two and Biden appears to be more principled in his decisions than the other. But there is still more continuity than change between the two Administration is on many Foreign Policy files.
There is no ultimate guarantee that the US will stay in Syria, and the geopolitical (from the US perspective) and humanitarian catastrophe that followed Afghanistan is a dire warning to Syrian Kurds," they said about further US presence in Syria Kurdish regions.
They, therefore, advised the Kurds that "it is best for Syrian Kurds to focus more on local dynamics, eg. communities around them, and to understand that they will have to find a way to coexist with all the anti-democratic regimes surrounding them. It is better than putting all the eggs into the US basket."
U.S relations with the Kurds, in case of its withdrawal from Iraq
"The US gradual withdrawal, disengagement from the Middle East isn’t new and there has been a continuity between the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations on this. Militarily, the US believes it can change its military posture and still can achieve its goals. And they believe technology might replace the need to have large number of troops on the ground. And the US still has several large scale deployments around the region, including Bahrain, Qatar, Turkey, Greece, etc.," the two experts said about US inclination to quit Iraq.
Dr. Miley and Dr. Yildiz blamed the Kurds in failing to cement their situation in Iraq.
They warned that the US could lose its interest in the issue of the Iraqi Kurds in the long run and told Kurdpress "The Iraqi Kurds so far failed to carve up an autonomous space by balancing their relations between regional superpowers and the Iraqi central government. Instead, they reduced relations with the central government and became a victim of a regional power struggle between Turkey and Iran. We believe this situation makes the Kurds less important for the US in the long run."
The possibility of a resolution to Kurdish problem in Turkey, and its positive impact on better Syrian Kurds' relation with Turkey.
The two experts confirmed that they agree with the assumption that the US can have a positive role in resolving the Kurdish issue in Turkey as demanded by Mazlum Kobani.
"We think the US is very well positioned to put pressure on both sides to come to a negotiating table. The PKK is in favor of negotiations anyway. But historically and still the US is using its power mostly to help Turkey dealing with the issue as if it is solely a security threat," the two researcher noted.
They blamed the current US policy towards the Kurdish militia in Turkey and stated "The US is pursuing a policy of having an anti-PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] stance while having a pro-SDF [Syrian Democratic Foces] and pro-HDP [pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party] stance, which doesn’t work."
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