RELEASE: CAP Report Highlights the Importance of Kurdish Political Groups in Combating Threats Including ISIS

Washington, D.C. — As centralized political power continues to erode in Iraq and Syria amid ongoing civil war and the rise of violent jihadi groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, the influence of Kurdish political and military actors in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria will only grow in importance. These Kurdish groups have, separately, maintained governance in northern Iraq and carved out autonomous enclaves in northern Syria that are increasingly seen as an important bulwark against the spread of groups such as ISIS.

In a new report , “The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions: The Peace Process in Context,” Senior Fellow Michael Werz and Policy Analyst Max Hoffman of the Center for American Progress analyze the political landscape along Turkey’s southern border and recommend a reinvigoration of Turkey’s peace process with its own Kurdish insurgents and a re-evaluation of U.S. policy toward Kurdish political groups in Iraq and Syria.

“As the conflicts in Iraq and Syria continue to devolve, the political and military forces found in these autonomous Kurdish regions have helped to counter the spread of radical groups such as ISIS,” said Werz. “The situation highlights the need for the United States and its ally, Turkey, to seek new partners in the effort to stem the spillover effects of the chaos in Syria and Iraq. These Kurdish political groups, while not yet united, offer new and potent allies in the search for regional stability.”

For the United States, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. The report includes recommendations for how the United States could positively affect the trajectory of the peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK; the civil war in Syria; and the security situation in Iraq and help insulate Turkey against the spread of regional turmoil.

Click here to read the report.

While the paper represents the authors’ analysis, several experts on the Kurdish issue have agreed to be available for comment on the report’s findings and the broader issue. They are:

  • Amberin Zaman, Istanbul correspondent for The Economist
  • Nuray Mert, political scientist and journalist for Hürriyet Daily News
  • Alan Makovsky, former senior professional staff member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • Omar Hossino, independent researcher on Syrian Kurds

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.