Supporting non-state actors is always a very dangerous game. Many such groups have purely bad intentions; seeking to creating discord, instability and war. Even with the best of intentions, it is dangerous to support inherently unstable non-state actors in geo-political conflicts.
A recent example was the US use of the terrorist group and non-state organisation KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) to destroy what remained of Yugoslavia in 1999.
Today, both in Syria and Iraq, the non-state parties and militias of the Kurds are being used by a number of foreign powers in the war against other non-state powers, namely Salifist terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda/Al-Nusra.
In Syria, it is well known that the Kurdish YGP forces threaten the territorial and constitutional integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.
In spite of being Syrian citizens with the full rights of any other Syrian, the Kurdish forces seek to create a formally recognised autonomous region in Syria that could lead to the partition of the country. The war against Salifist terrorism has only emboldened these Kurdish aspirations.
In spite of this, many people support both the Kurds and Syria. In the short term, both have common enemies; Salifist terrorists and Erdogan’s imperialist forces which are currently illegally occupying parts of Syria.
But in the medium and long term, many people who support the Kurdish YGP and related SFD, will find that they soon will have to grapple with their own conflict of loyalties.
Iran has increased its international prestige by helping the Syrian government to fight Salifist terror groups. In this sense Iran’s legal and helpful role in the conflict ought to be commended.
But Iran is no fan of the Kurds and the Kurds are no fans of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Kurdish-Iranian agitation groups have recently called to their brethren to unite against the government in Tehran.
The proximate dispute discussed in the recent meeting are Kurdish New Year celebrations on the 21st of March, which Kurds claim are suppressed by the Iranian government.
Kurdish leader Aso Saleh was quoted by al-Masdar as saying,
“All parties agreed that this is an Iranian plan. Iranian regime wants to weaken the Kurdish movement. After the meeting all parties created a commission to meet with Iraq’s Parliament factions”.
For years, America has backed Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq and under the Trump administration, much of the aid that Obama gave to Salifist groups in Syria will now be going exclusively to the Kurdish dominated SDF.
America’s antagonism of Iran is nothing new, but many are now stating their views about Iran with increasing frankness. Some say that the real reason Michael Flynn resigned is because he was too hawkish on Iran, even for the other hawks.
But what has this to do with the Kurds?
If America secures an autonomous region for the Kurds in Syria that could then link up to Kurdish regions in Iraq, America would have a safe location from which to launch a war on Iran and they could do so with the aid of well-trained Kurdish soldiers who openly state their desire to weaken Iran.
In this sense is it possible to support the YPG forces in Syria and also support Iran’s war against Salifism in Syria?
It may not be. Although in Syria both Iran and the Kurds have a common enemy, in the wider world, Kurds and the Iranian state have a dispute that cannot be ignored.
This is the problem with endorsing all non-state actors. It always ends up creating a tangled web of conflicted loyalties. If Kurdish desires are achieved, it could gift America the opportunity to trigger a war with Iran.
People ought to envision a can of worms whenever they say ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.