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Why the Syrian Kurds Can’t Win

Feb. 22, 2016 Despite recent victories, the Kurdish YPG forces face several challenges.

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  • Last updated: March 29
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By Jacob L. Shapiro

Of the Middle Eastern states where Kurds are a sizable minority, Syria has the smallest Kurdish population and also the newest – most of the territory on which Syrian Kurds live only became Kurdish in the last century. And yet, because of their location – sandwiched between Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, the Islamic State and Bashar al-Assad’s forces to the south and west – Syria’s Kurds find themselves on the world’s center stage. Led by their militia, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syria’s Kurds have seized a significant amount of land. However, the YPG has only been able to accomplish this because of the anarchy that the civil war in Syria created. There are limits to what the Syrian Kurds can realistically accomplish. Notions that the YPG is going to cross the Euphrates River and create a contiguous, independent Kurdish state ranging from al-Hasakah in the east to the Mediterranean in the west are at best wishful thinking and at

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Why the Syrian Kurds Can’t Win