The paradox of the human brain and the Kurds

Verda Özer
Verda Özer
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The formation of an autonomous Kurdish entity under a federal Syria would freak out not only Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but also his neighbors

Verda Özer
Massoud Barzani, the KRG president, also has his own challenges before him. The emergence of a Syrian Kurdish enclave is putting pressure on him vis-à-vis his policy toward Turkey. Barzani has developed a harmonious relationship with Ankara by supporting Turkey not only in its struggle against the PKK, but also in its agenda vis-à-vis Syrian Kurds.

On the other hand, Syrian Kurds are divided not only by geography, but also by political stance. There is rivalry between the Syrian Kurdish National Council (KNC) which is the political alliance of 12 Kurdish political parties and the PYD, the largest and most powerful Kurdish organization in Syria, affiliated with the PKK. The PYD is also accused by the KNC of siding with the al-Assad regime although its leader, Salih Muslim, rejects this charge.


Kurds of the region are also not united. There is tension between Barzani and some Syrian Kurds. On the one hand, the KRG has invested in the political future of Syrian Kurds by training Kurdish Syrian militia who deserted the Syrian army. Barzani also reconciled different Kurdish groups in Syria, convincing the PYD to join the unified Kurdish coalition with the KNC. However, the PYD remains at odds with Barzani. The problem is not only the PYD’s affiliation with the PKK but that the PYD argues that the KRG privileges its own interests above everything else.

However, just as old rivals Barzani and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani managed to put their differences aside and become pragmatically allies, Kurdish groups will probably do the same and unite around their common goal: Self-determination. In addition, Barzani’s political, economic and strategic assets would make Syrian Kurds gravitate toward the KRG in the aftermath of the Syrian uprising.

The human brain is holistic. The human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts. This is also true when looking at the Kurds in the region. Mind the parts.

(Verda Özer is a Ph.D. candidate at the Defense Academy of the U.K. and an international security expert. She works as a program manager at the Columbia Global Center Turkey and the German Marshall Fund of the United States and writes for the Hurriyet Daily News. She can be found on Twitter: @Verda_Ozer)

*This article was first published in Hurriyet Daily News on Jan. 1, 2013. Link:


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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