No. 92 – October 2016
Authors: Claudia Candelmo, Sergio Dinoi
Since the outbreak of the revolution in Syria in 2011 and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the already fragile geopolitical balance of the Middle East has seen a quick decline. The rapid escalation of the conflict has led to an unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis in Syria, to which many Western countries answered poorly. At the same time, since 2013, ISIL launched its project to conquer the Middle East and establish an Islamic Caliphate, taking advantage of the difficult situation in the region to put forward its political plan. With Syria in flames and Iraqi militias (especially at first) on the run, the Kurdish population living in the so-called Kurdistan proved to be one of the most relevant actors in the region, particularly the Syrian Kurds who gradually assumed a strategic role in the long-standing crisis, both politically and military. Upon these premises, the report aims to analyse the Syrian crisis from the perspective of what has turned out to be one of the leading actors in the conflict – the Kurds. Through an in-depth study of the decisive role that they have played so far in the Syrian conflict – including their military capacity in fighting the Islamic State, their disputed participation in the peace process as well as their allocation in a possible post-Assad scenario – and the careful scrutiny of international sources and documents on the subject, the paper finally concludes with a few critical observations on the conceivable asset that may be implemented in Syria after the end of the conflict and the potential outcomes for the Kurds.