Syrian Kurds never relied solely on US, says official after Moscow visit

An official from an administration in northeast Syria told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday that Syrian Kurds never relied exclusively on the United States to solve the Syrian crisis. The comments came following a delegation’s trip to Moscow to discuss Turkish threats of military action on areas east of the Euphrates.
author_image Wladimir van Wilgenburg

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An official from an administration in northeast Syria told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday that Syrian Kurds never relied exclusively on the United States to solve the Syrian crisis. The comments came following a delegation’s trip to Moscow to discuss Turkish threats of military action on areas east of the Euphrates.

In an interview with Kurdistan 24, Dr. Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of the Foreign Relations Commission of the Self Administration in Northern and Eastern Syria (NES), shared details about when administration officials visited Moscow in December and met with senior Russian officials, including senior officials of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“We discussed the Syrian issue and Turkish threats and we confirmed that we did not only rely on the US for a political solution,” he said.

“We never even cut ties with the [Syrian] government when it was weak,” he remarked, but added, “We have always said that the regime was not serious for negotiations to reach a deal.”

He also confirmed several past meetings with Russians at Hmeimim base, located near Syria’s western coastline. 

Over the summer, the Syrian government and the Kurdish-backed Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) held talks as well, though these talks failed to produce meaningful results, reportedly because Damascus was not willing to make concessions.

After repeated Turkish threats to send troops over the border, the People's Protection Units (YPG) last week called on the Syrian government to protect Manbij and the Turkish border against invasion. When Turkey attacked Afrin in January 2018, the YPG made similar requests of Damascus, but to no avail.

Omar added that his side is still open for renewed relations with the Syrian government, saying, “In the future, we will keep with our attempts to resume dialogue with the regime, and we are ready to do that. Not only between us and the Syrian regime, but every Syrian party.”

Furthermore, he added that the local administration shared a plan for a potential solution to the ongoing hostilities in Syria with Moscow.

“We have presented a roadmap to the Russians, saying what our goals and principles are, and how the North and East Syrian administration could participate in the constitution and how to make it part of a Syrian solution that includes Kurdish rights," he said.

Moreover, he added that Russia also acknowledged the pivotal role that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have played in fighting terrorism. 

In January 2018, relations between the Syrian Kurds and Russia deteriorated after Russia was seen to have given Turkey a green light to attack the Kurdish region of Afrin. The Moscow visit in December is a sign that Syrian Kurds’ relationship with Russia is likely changing again as a result of the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from Syria.

Turkish officials also visited Moscow on Dec. 29 but the outcome of meetings that occurred is unclear.

Omar claimed that Turkey had a deal with Russia allowing them to invade northern Aleppo and Afrin in the past. “We don’t think Turkey alone is able to invade northeast of the Euphrates,” he said, “since there are other players that could be critical for Turkey.”

In the past, he said, Turkey had occupied Jarabulus, Al-Bab, Afrin, and other cities “through a deal with Russia and silence of the international community.”

He concluded by saying that Turkey was now depending on the US withdrawal to attack.

“Since things are changing regarding the US withdrawal and it will now take time. The US will never pull out in a way that results to chaos.”

Editing by John J. Catherine