The Syrian Kurds: A Security Partner or Security Issue?

Creative Commons License

Demir T.

International Year One International Relations Conference, Security Dilemma, Security in the Modern World at Leeds Beckett University, Leeds International Study Centre, Leeds, United Kingdom, 06 March 2019, pp.2

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Leeds
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Page Numbers: pp.2
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes



The Kurds live in five different countries including Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria and some parts of Azerbaijan. While the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq have been regularly heard and discussed by the scholars, the Syrian Kurds have been a relatively little-known group until the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. During the conflict, first, the Syrian Kurds managed to carve out a de facto autonomy in northern Syria under the dominance of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Then, with the rise of the armed extremist groups such as ISIS, the Syrian Kurds commence militarily defending their de facto autonomous administration against these extremist groups, especially against ISIS. Accordingly, by using the defence against ISIS, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the PYD, has become a ground partner to the US in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Hence, this paper discusses the Syrian Kurds, especially, the PYD and its military wing the YPG in the security concept as a new and pragmatic US ally. It argues that the PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated as a terrorist organisation by the US, EU and Turkey, has become a security matter not only as a security partner to the US but also a security issue between the NATO allies, the US and Turkey.

Key Words: Security, Syrian Conflict, Syrian Kurds, ISIS