Arab rebel-Kurd tensions / Peter Hartling (International Crisis Group)

ALEPPO, AFP – 31.1o.2012 –  Analysts say clashes in the north, where the country’s 15 percent Kurdish population is heavily concentrated, stem not just from distrust, but from a struggle for power and control with Syria’s future deeply uncertain. Some rebels say they are anxious to keep a ceasefire and nervous about opening a second front in a war they are struggling to win without international support.Any escalation would be all the more worrying after 30 people were reported killed in Aleppo on Friday in the deadliest FSA-PYD clashes of the uprising.

Peter Harling, analyst at the International Crisis Group, says the PYD has successfully exploited the uprising, creating friction with the armed opposition particularly in the all-important Turkey border area. “There is a lot of competition between these opposition armed groups over the weapons transit route. That fact that many of the border points are in fact controlled by the Kurds, has created some tension with the Kurds too,” he says.

Harling believes the PYD wants to stay out of the conflict as far as possible, essentially neutral, but determined to profit whatever the outcome. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman says armed groups have adopted practices of the regime and voiced fears that communal tensions may grow in the north. “In areas where rebels have forced the regime out, there is a security vacuum. Some of the fighters don’t want democracy at all, they’re just warlords who are taking advantage of the chaos,” says Abdel Rahman.