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Arab gripes pose challenges for Syrian Kurds’ control

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Kurdish-Arab tensions in north-east Syria


Significant protests between April and June by Arab tribes in north-eastern Syria against Kurdish governance have subsided in north-eastern Syria after Saudi Arabia intervened to encourage de-escalation. However, the underlying causes, including grievances over economic distribution, heavy-handed security methods and a lack of Arab representation in decision-making, have not been resolved.


  • A deterioration in cooperation between Arab tribes and the SDF may facilitate the operations of IS sleeper cells.
  • The United States and partners will look for further ways to alleviate the concerns of Arab tribes in the area.
  • Ankara and Damascus, which both have designs on the north-east, will play up protests to justify intervention.
  • A mooted Turkish invasion of the border area could radically shift the power dynamic in the region.

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