ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) spokesperson, Amjad Othman, told Kurdistan 24 statements made by the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, are not conducive to dialogue or a solution to the Syrian crisis.
“We underline that we do not believe in a military solution. We did not fight the Syrian government; we only defended ourselves when under attack. Everybody recognizes the sacrifices of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against [the Islamic State (IS)], the biggest terrorist organization in the world,” Othman said.
“We believe the threatening statements uttered by the Syrian Foreign Minister do not serve dialogue or [efforts toward] a solution to the Syrian crisis,” Othman argued.
The SDC spokesperson made the comments following a statement by Syria’s al-Muallem last Monday, who asserted areas in the country’s north “had to return to Syrian sovereignty,” according to SANA news agency.
“I say with all sincerity: after Idlib, our goal is east of the Euphrates, and our brothers there, whether tribes or the Kurdish brothers, have to decide what they want in the future, under the return of Syrian sovereignty to all the Syrian territory. This is what our people have fought for and will not be negligent towards its implementation,” Muallem said in a press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, in Damascus on Monday.
“If they want dialogue, then dialogue will be on a clear basis: There is a constitution, there are laws that regulate the relationship [between factions], and the Syrian state does not accept any federalism in this region because it is contrary to the constitution. If the Kurdish brothers want to pursue the American promises and the American delusion, this is their business, and they will have to pay the price,” he warned.
“The homeland is paved for them to return, but without delusions. And they have to learn from the lessons of the past decades, when they were allied with superpowers and suddenly they were abandoned by these countries. I am here to state that the issue of East Euphrates is vital and cannot be waived. Syria’s decision is to extend its national sovereignty over the entire Syrian geography,” al-Muallem affirmed.
However, Othman said that the main reason earlier talks between Damascus and the Kurds were stalled was due to the “inflexibility and unwillingness by Damascus to make concessions.”
“We refuse the accusations that foreign forces are the main reason that the talks did not succeed or intervened to stop the dialogue between us and Damascus,” the Kurdish official stated.
“This is simply an excuse by Damascus. We call on the Syrian government in Damascus to be more flexible so we can reach a political solution for democracy and the decentralization of Syria,” he continued.
Othman affirmed that the main problem lies with the Syrian constitution.
“The Syrian constitution needs to be reviewed after seven years of crisis and the great sacrifices of the Syrian people demanding change. The Syrian people have demands for change and the current Syrian constitution doesn’t take into consideration their demands for democracy.”
While the Kurdish-led SDC and the US-backed SDF want a decentralized Syria and for Damascus to recognize the autonomous administration in North and East of Syria, Damascus still prefers a centralized regime.
“[President Bashar] al-Assad needs the Kurds to rule the north, but I doubt he is serious about any real form of autonomy that will satisfy Kurdish demands. He believes in a centralized Syria,” Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma, told Kurdistan 24.
“He may be willing to allow Kurds to keep more of the wealth of the region but real cultural or regional autonomy comparable to Iraq? I doubt it. Baathism, Arabism, and his history are all against it,” he concluded.
Editing by Nadia Riva