EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In Syria, where chaos reigns and there are no moderates among the Sunni Arab opposition, the “enemy of my enemy” principle may apply – particularly in view of Assad’s increasing dominance, the growing Iranian influence on Israel’s borders, and Turkey’s close ties with Hamas and recent rapprochement with Tehran. It is therefore in Israel’s interest to act quickly to support the nascent Kurdish political region in Syria.
Relations between the Syrian Kurds and Israel have changed dramatically over the past eighteen years. In 1999, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the most influential party among the Kurds in both Syria and Turkey, accused the Mossad of contributing to the kidnapping of its leader and founder, Abdullah Öcalan, and handing him over to Ankara after years of exile in Syria. At that time, the Syrian regime was in control of the country and engaging in delicate negotiations with Israel in the US about the Golan Heights.
Today, the scene is completely different. War-torn Syria is divided, and talks about the Golan are a thing of the past. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister at the time of Öcalan’s capture, is back in office and is now the second-longest-serving prime minister in Israel’s history after David Ben-Gurion. The PKK has shed its Marxist skin, transforming into a pragmatic party that rules vast territory.
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