The appearance of the Islamic State (ISIS) and its fast expansion through Iraqi and Syrian territories has again destabilized the delicate balance in a region already inherently known for its instability. The war against ISIS, which has fused with the Syrian civil war, has generated a conflict more akin to the Cold War, where the different actors are supported by patrons who, in turn, have their own interests in the area. In said battle of interests, disguised as a six-year ongoing war, the Kurds fight for survival and the control of their lands, in an effort that could mean the first step towards the creation of a Kurdish state.

Largest minority with no state

Kurds are considered today the largest minority group in the world who do not have their own state. Dispersed between Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey, estimations claim there could be between 20 and 30 million Kurdish people, whose aspiration is Kurdistan, a state that would encompass regions from the aforementioned 4 countries. Although they have obtained a certain degree of independence in a determined area of Iraq, the creation of Kurdistan has always been subject to difficulties and interests that closely resemble those that exist for the creation of a Palestinian State.

The appearance of the Islamic State and its expansion has forced the Kurds to fight to control their own territories in the northern parts of Syria and Iraq.

This resistance movement, which has turned them into an “allied” force for the international coalition, as well as the void left behind the disappearance of governmental authority nucleuses both in Syria and Iraq, has reopened the possibility for the Kurds to aspire for an own State.

The war for independence

What started out as a war for survival has turned, with time, into a war for independence.

The Kurdish people believe that in their resistance against invaders lies their greatest claim for self-determination, although chances seem slim especially in Turkey, where most of the Kurdish population resides.

Knowing that a hypothetical defeat of the Islamic State in the future with help from the Kurds could mean a steroid for their hopes and dreams of independence, Turkish forces have been forced to intervene in Syria under the pretextof protecting their borders.

In this offensive, named Shield of the Euphrates, Turkey has tried to curb the independence aspirations of the Kurds launching a full-on attack on the Islamic State as well as Kurdish forces, who have been forced to retreat and surrender territory that had been reclaimed from ISIS forces. The Turkish strategy, which could be described as a move to secure its borders, seems also to target keeping Kurdish forces from reclaimed territory.

A real possibility

In any case, and despite difficulties, the creation of a Kurdish State seems no longer a stretchand is becoming more and more a real possibility. As the Islamic State retreats and relinquishes territory in a slow process of erosion and collapsing, the idea that the Kurds can seize the opportunity earned through their participation in the war to negotiate the creation of a Kurdish State, something that will not be easy taking into account the reluctance of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and above all, Turkey.