The Syrian conflict has contributed to the establishment of a de facto autonomous Kurdish region in Syria known as Rojava (Western Kurdistan). The Syrian army’s withdrawal from Kurdish-populated areas in the north of the country during July 2012, followed by the rise of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing—the People’s Protection Units (YPG)—have played key roles in empowering a Kurdish nationalist project in Syria. The project has further gathered legitimacy and support through the YPG’s struggle against the Islamic State group (ISIS). Kurdish gains still face numerous challenges, however, and will not consolidate unless the PYD takes serious steps to broaden its Kurdish support base and normalize relations with its non-Kurdish neighbors, including Turkey. Should the PYD fail to do so, the result will likely be the intensification of ethnic conflict, both in Syria and across its borders.


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pp. 81-90
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