It seems that reports claiming that Asma Al-Assad was pregnant and that her husband was sent into outer space by his allies, the Iranians, were utterly false. Assad, we are now assured, is no longer virile or space-worthy. Months of bloodshed have taken their toll. These shocking revelations seem to lend credence to reports of Assad’s impending extinction followed by an inevitable descent into the lower depths of Hell.
The PYD/PKK’s influence has been further encouraged by the Jihadist push into Aleppo, where the PKK/PYD power base is strongest. Although the approximately 10,000 Kurdish Alawites concentrated in the mountainous areas outside Aleppo are small in number, they are influential in the region and back the PYD/PKK, alongside fellow Syrian Alawites who are equally committed to a secular Syrian state. PYD leader Dr. Bahouz Ardal is an Alawite and old school friend of Assad. Salih Muslim, the PYD spokesman, also is an Alawite Kurd.
These deep-rooted political, economic and cultural Alawite networks, alongside a weakened Syrian state, have enabled the PYD/PKK to expand its territorial gains and regional leverage. In addition to key border regions, the PYD-PKK now controls the Efrin Mountain, which is only about five miles from the Turkish commercial town of Gaziantep. This gives the group yet another base from which to launch its cross-border operations against Turkey, alongside its headquarters in Qandil, Iraqi Kurdistan.
There is one aspect to Kurdish politics that often gets ignored, but the article by Denise Natali quoted above gets it right, namely: the role confessional minorities play in shaping the Kurdish political order. In the case of Syria, Kurdish Alawites, albeit few in number (10-15,000 in all), tend to be fervent supporters of the PKK in Turkey and its affiliated PYD in Syria. As such they are extremely secular, and maintain some rapport with Arab Alawites.
However, it is important to note here that, in academic terms, Kurdish Alawites are actually Alevis, that is, their religious beliefs are closer to those of Turkey’s Alevi population than to those of the Alawites of Syria (and the Hatay Province in Turkey). In political terms, Turkish Alevi population is for the most part left-leaning and tend to be more sympathetic to the Assad regime, as part of their ongoing opposition to US policies in the region, and AKP domestic programs. Kurdish Alevis in Syria have similar tendencies, and seem to be well-represented, if not over-represented, in the higher ranks of PYD, but, on account of the national issue involved, they have tried to maintain in a more neutral stand vis-à-vis the Syrian Revolution, and to keep local Kurdish communities as neutral as possible as well. The increasing Islamization of the revolutionaries and the recent clashes in Ras Al-Ain pitting Islamist rebels against local Kurdish protection units (YPGs), which are ideologically linked to the PKK, are helping their case.
Rebels pound the Military Airport in Deir Ezzor City http://youtu.be/3iXKf8dacTY Elsewhere in the city clashes continue http://youtu.be/kYEbp8DXlSU
In Idlib Province, MiGs bombard the town of Heesh http://youtu.be/fWp9vp65xdM , http://youtu.be/v0367Vq8brQ Still, rebels using confiscated tanks targeted several loyalist positions in town http://youtu.be/GKGcyYrU4lQ
Explosives barrels thrown by helicopter gunships on the neighborhood of Jobar, Homs City leave many dead http://youtu.be/jFLFOpZXPEw , http://youtu.be/85ovQYNkD3k Major sections of the city lie now in ruins http://youtu.be/IpvO1dwvS2A
An aerial raid on the town of Tal Rif’at, Aleppo http://youtu.be/ON8B2D8porc , http://youtu.be/75oExnQuCoc
In Aleppo City, intense clashes took place in Allairamoon http://youtu.be/DU52NdwPCCo , http://youtu.be/hDiBP9sROJk The neighborhood is pounded by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/DCojkRXcnWY , http://youtu.be/2x0gALZ5pEw