Friday, September 29, 2023
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Eastern Syrian Arab Tribes Engage in Conflict with Kurdish Allies Supported by Washington

This week witnessed a rare outbreak of violence between local Arab tribes and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria. The SDF, which is supported by the United States, pledged to address the demands of the local tribes and promised greater Arab participation in the administration of the region. Mazloum Abdi, an SDF commander, also announced a “general amnesty” for most of the tribesmen involved in the violence. The SDF, formed in 2015 by a U.S.-led military coalition to combat ISIS, controls an oil-rich enclave in eastern Syria where the Syrian government has little control. The SDF is predominantly made up of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., the EU, and Turkey. The unrest is also attributed to long-standing Arab grievances with the Kurdish-led SDF, accusing them of monopolizing local administration and depriving them of their share of the region’s oil wealth. The SDF denies these claims and states that it aims to address historical injustices against the Kurdish people. In an effort to de-escalate the violence, U.S. officials visited Deir al-Zor to address local grievances and pledged to restructure the local administration to be more representative of all tribes and groups in the region. The SDF leader accused the Syrian government of instigating the unrest and stated that the SDF had no plans to withdraw from the region. The U.S. maintains a military presence in Syria to combat ISIS, although Russian officials argue that this has led to inter-ethnic disputes and hindered the Syrian government’s control over its sovereign territory.

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