ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Despite having reached a deal with Damascus for national troops to counter the recent Turkish military incursion into northern Syria, top Kurdish officials continue to reject plans by President Bashar al-Assad to bring autonomous Kurdish-controlled areas under his authority.
“The Kurds have never ruled over anyone and never assimilated any Syrian component with a history, culture, and identity. On the contrary, the Kurds were the first Syrians who were oppressed and denied,” read a statement released on Friday by Aldar Xelil, the head of the Diplomatic Relations Office for the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM).
“Today, the Kurds seek to resolve their cause by resolving the issue of all those who were treated in the same manner,” he added. “The consideration is that there is no single solution to a host of problems, so the suitable proposition was the Democratic Nation; this in one aspect preserves and supports the plurality and diversity of Syria.”
The Kurdish-led administration in earlier failed talks with Damascus called for a degree of self-autonomy but Damascus insisted on a full return of all territory within Syrian borders to the central government.
Local authorities, however, are in a much weaker position since being forced to make a deal with the Syrian government to deploy national forces to protect the border against Turkish attacks that began on Oct. 9.
In an interview on state television on Thursday, President Assad praised the role of Russia in reaching a deal with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as well as the Oct. 22 Sochi deal between Russia and Turkey.
Contrary to Kurdish demands, he continued to declare that Kurdish-held areas should all be reintegrated or assimilated back into the state, a process he said would take time.
“This should take place gradually. Second, the situation will not return as before. There are facts on the ground which need to be addressed, and this will take time,” the Syrian president said.
“There are armed groups; we do not expect them to hand over their weapons immediately. Our policy should be gradual and rational, and should take the facts into account. But the ultimate goal is to return to the situation as it used to be previously which is the full control of the state.”
On Wednesday, General Mazlum Abdi, Commander-in-Chief of the SDF, rejected an earlier proposal by the Syrian Defense Ministry for Kurdish fighters to individually join the Syrian army.
“The Ministry could have rather offered a solution similar to what we have proposed, which is to preserve the SDF’s autonomy in its areas of presence as a part of the Syrian defense system.”
Xelil argued the SDF, which sacrificed 11,000 fighters in the fight against the Islamic State, and its victories “are the result of this solidarity, which are achievements of Syria and its future history,” arguing that the autonomous, pluralistic, and multi-ethnic system in SDF-held territories should be preserved.
“The characteristic of preserving these facts and harnessing them for the future of Syria certainly lies through the expansion of reconciliation and strengthening the solidarity and unity that exists among all Syrians through dialogue, debate.”
Editing by John J. Catherine