ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday that Kurds should be included in Syria’s political process while pointing out that Kurdish groups in the nation are politically divided.
"The question - posed by us, the Kurds and other parties to the political process - has always been who and how should represent Kurdish interests," he told the Russian news outlet Sputnik.
"When talking about political process and drafting the constitution, it has been rightly assumed that Kurdish representatives must be included instead of being pushed away, which only fuels separatist sentiment,” he continued. “That has been our goal from the very beginning.”
Bogdanov made sure to add, however, there was no unity among Kurds, who are divided between the Kurdish National Council (KNC), part of the Turkish-backed National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Etilaf), and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is opposed by Turkey.
"There are factions," Bogdanov told Sputnik. "There are Kurds from the Istanbul-based opposition Negotiations Committee, which unites at least three platforms - from Riyadh, Cairo and Moscow. There is also the Democratic Union Party [PYD] and the Democratic Council of Syria [SDC].”
So far, Turkey has always opposed any role of the PYD in any peace talks, and as a result, despite US and Russian promises in the past, the PYD was never involved in the peace talks that have taken place in Geneva and Astana.
The two countries have increased their alignment since Turkey, with Russian approval, launched the Euphrates Shield operation in Syria in August 2016. This was followed by President Erdogan’s apology to Russian president Vladimir Putin after Turkish forces shot down of a Russian jet on the border with Syria in late 2015.
When Turkey attacked Afrin in January 2018, Russia also approved the Turkish operations. Moreover, on Sept. 17, Russia and Turkey reached a deal on Idlib, although Damascus opposes Turkish troops operating there.
As a result, both Turkey and Russia are opposed to any US presence in support of Kurds in the northeast part of Syria.
“They are somewhat different Kurds, but they [PYD] do control territory with US help, which is not something that Arabs or Turks are happy about, and neither do we understand it," Bogdanov added.
On Oct. 10, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during the conference of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), affirmed that the Kurds would be party to negotiations over Syria’s political future.
“We are now driving,” he said, stressing that last word, “to make sure that they have a seat at the table.”
Aldar Xelil, the Diplomatic Relations spokesperson for the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), earlier told Kurdistan 24 in an interview that if the Americans seek a solution, they should include all forces on the ground in any political process and dialogue, including the constitution.
“Actually, the Americans are trying to include us in any process or dialogue, but we do not know whether they will fulfill their promises or not,” the spokesperson continued.
“However, the reality and fact are that if the representatives of north Syria, including Rojava, are excluded, then no agreement or solution is going to be made.”
Editing by John J. Catherine