The Kurds and Rojava, State-Building in the Syrian War

During the Autumn 2013 and Winter 2014, we witnessed a major reconfiguration of forces in Syria, as seen previously, including with the rise of Salafi-Nationalists. This article looks at the evolution that took place in Western Kurdistan, notably the birth of novel political institutions, Rojava, and how and why the Kurds relate to the Geneva conference that took place in early 2014. Creating Rojava We recall that on 10 July 2013, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) declared starting making plans to move towards some degree of autonomy for Rojava or the Syrian part of Kurdistan (see for detail 4 Nov 2013 update, 2.1.). News about Rojava and its “project” can be followed on its own website, created in August 2013. The PYD moved forward on 11 November 2013 […]

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Facing the Fog of War in Syria: The Tragedy of Kurdistan

This post is the latest update for the State of Play: The Kurds in the Syrian civil war. It can be read independently, but readers will be able to refer to the initial post for background. A general call to arms to fight Jihadis – Since first clashes erupted on 12 July, intensifying on 16 July, notably over and in the city of Ras al-Ain, the YPG (The People’s Defence Units – see updated mapping of actors below) has been fighting Jahbat-al Nosra (JAN) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS or ISIL) (van Wilgenburg, Al-Monitor, July 16). At the end of July, fighting was raging in the area of the oil fields of Rmeilan “around the main […]

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Facing the Fog of War in Syria: The Syrian Islamists Play the Regional “Game of Thrones”

This second update covers the evolution in Syria from July to October 2013. It focuses first on dynamics of change involving the interplay between the Syrian Islamist factions on the ground and international players – especially the declaration of an “Islamic framework” and then the creation of the Islam Army, with impact on the overall situation, and provides an updated mapping for Syrian Islamist groups. It then looks at evolutions related to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. Syrian Sunni factions intending to install an Islamist state in Syria (For background and past state of play, see here) It is within those groups that we have been witnessing throughout September-October 2013 the most potent changes. As always, and as Lund […]

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Evaluating Forces on the Syrian Battlefield

Having an idea of the forces present on the battlefield in Syria is crucial to understand the state of play, to follow the course of the war, to evaluate the impact of the decisions taken by external players, and to estimate the likelihood to see one scenario (or one of its variations) happening. Here is a synthesis of the various estimates found for each warring group…

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Strategic Intelligence Assessment for Syria (4) – State of Play Part III

Detailed state of play for the Syrian Sunni Factions between May 2013 and January 2014 (open access) with actors mappings (members only).

Strategic Intelligence Assessment for Syria (3) – State of Play Part II – The Kurds

The Kurds in Syria: background and analysis for the Syrian war (open access) with actors mapping (for Platinum members only)

Strategic Intelligence Assessment for Syria (2) – State of Play Part I – Pro-Assad Groups and Moderate Opposition Forces

This post and the next will present the current state of play and the various categories of actors fighting in and over Syria, namely the pro-Assad groups, the moderate opposition forces and the Muslim Brotherhood “related” groups, the Islamist groups fighting for an Islamist state in Syria, the groups linked to a global Jihadi Front, and, finally, the Kurds in Syria, without forgetting the external actors.

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