Federalism in Syria, PYD and Ambivalent Position of Iran


The ambivalent position of Iran has led two different, and contrasting assessments. First assessment suggests that Iran is in partnership with PKK with regard to regional issues for a while. Accordingly, having assisted by PUK that has been long time friend of Tehran, Iran brokered an agreement between PYD, the Syrian branch of PKK and the Assad administration. Accordingly, Assad surrendered the north of Syria to PYD in return for its promise to avoid joining the Syrian opposition,and to suppress anti-regime protests in the region. As stated by Nuri Brimo, a member of Syrian Kurdish National Council (ENKS), ‘PYD turned into gendarmerie of Assad and Iran’. That is, the declaration of autonomous or federal region by PYD is not beyond information and control of Iran. Moreover, the Assad administration and Iran have supported PYD both as part of their strategy to struggle against extremist ‘takfiri movements,’ and to prevent Turkey from mounting influence in the region.

Additionally, there is an apparent sympathy in Iranian media towards the Syrian Kurds, especially PYD. One of the reasons for that sympathy is the emergence of PYD as an ‘efficient’ actor that has been fighting against ‘takfiri terrorists’.  Second, a sense of consolidation with the Kurdsas part of ‘Irani’ peoples is prevalent in Iranian media, which boosted by ‘neo-Aryanist’ feelings. Additionally some people are advocates of building close relations with Kurdish movements in the region, for strategic reasons, in order to assure Kurdish support in future. Hence, relations between Iran and PYD/PKK are not only forced by contextual developments, but also shaped by strategic calculations.

[ > Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies – April 2017 ]