ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Responding to recent statements Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made, a member of the Presidential Body of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), Hikmat Habib, said the Syrian government is stuck in its old mentality: opposing any form of decentralization.
Habib told Kurdistan 24 the Syrian regime’s “idea of decentralization is not acceptable because this idea will weaken the state.”
“The regime’s mentality did not change at all, and is the same as before,” he noted, adding the decision to resolve the Syrian crisis is out of the regime’s hands.
The SDC member’s comments were in response to remarks Assad made in a speech on Sunday when he said Damascus was ready for dialogue but rejected proposals to decentralize the country.
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“Dialogue is necessary, but there is a difference between the proposals that create dialogue and others which create a partition, and we should focus on the common things,” Assad noted.
Additionally, Assad claimed the attempts to “apply a comprehensive decentralization” are aimed at undermining “the authority of the state.”
This “partition scheme isn’t new, and it doesn’t stop at the borders of the Syrian state, but it covers the region as a whole,” he stated.
Syrian Kurdish politician Riyad Ehmed, meanwhile, said little should be expected of the Syrian regime’s mentality which remains unchanged.
Ehmed explained that a decision on the Syrian crisis is not under the control of the “Assad regime, but foreign powers.”
On Tuesday, Assad’s senior adviser Bouthaina Shaaban told reporters that she rejected the idea of autonomy for the northeast, suggesting this would lead to partition, Reuters reported.
However, the Syrian Kurdish-led administrations have always denied being in favor of partition, and say they support the unity of the Syrian state.
After US President Donald Trump announced America would eventually withdraw troops from Syria, and started to talk about the establishment of a safe zone, the Syrian Kurds approached Moscow to find a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Elsewhere, the Turkish government has said it wants to control this safe zone, a proposal the Syrian Kurds reject.
The Kurds hope Moscow can play a mediating role between Damascus and the country’s Kurdish population to prevent a Turkish attack and to protect the future of Syria’s northeast.
For this reason, the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria handed over a roadmap that calls on Damascus to accept decentralization and autonomy, and to recognize the special status of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
However, the Syrian government seems reluctant to respond to this roadmap. Moreover, Russia is still working with Iran and Turkey through the trilateral Sochi summit.
In a statement on Feb. 11, the SDF’s Military Council also underlined the need “to find a solution through dialogue in the framework of a unified Syria.”
It underlined the need to respect the special status of the SDF forces, and the constitutional recognition of the Kurdish-backed DAA.
Habib was critical of Assad’s rejection of decentralization, but he welcomed the Syrian president’s criticism of Turkey.
Shabaan also rejected a Turkish occupation and safe zone, criticizing “Turkey’s Ottoman ambitions.”
Habib told Kurdistan 24 they had proposed a roadmap that is not only for the Kurds but “for all Syrian brothers.”
“We are open for dialogue with any Syrian political force,” he noted.
The SDC member added they are ready to liberate areas under Turkish occupation, such as Azaz, Jarabulus, and Afrin.
“Our project is a national project for all the people; it’s not an agenda for Russia, the US, or Iran,” Habib said. “However, we don’t accept a Turkish occupation.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany