ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Damascus should recognize the autonomy in the northeast of Syria, a top Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) general commander affirmed on Saturday.
Speaking during a meeting in Ain al-Issa of the General Council for Self-Administration in North and East Syria, SDF Commander-in-Chief General Mazlum Abdi warned that Syria would be “a failed state” without the stability the northern and eastern Kurdish-held regions provide.
The SDF-held northeast of Syria is rich in oil, water, and agricultural lands.
The Kurdish-led forces control most of Syria’s oil and gas fields and 70 percent of its wheat production. The SDF has also limited oil and wheat sales to Damascus.
Abdi noted they are ready for negotiations with Damascus if the central government recognizes “the existing administrations, including the Administration of North and East Syria.”
He said they would also sit with the Syrian government if it recognized “the SDF and their full responsibility of the military and security situation” in areas the self-administration controls.
According to Abdi, the “SDF have proved to have emerged stronger after [the] defeat of ISIS.”
He rejected reports that it was possible for the so-called Islamic State to reemerge in Syria’s northeast, although he acknowledged the threat of sleeper cell attacks.
Following United States President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement in December that he would withdraw American forces from Syria, Kurdish authorities began to present a road map to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in meetings with his key ally, Russia, hoping to strike a deal.
The Kurds want to safeguard their autonomous region within a decentralized state.
However, these talks failed, and Syria and Russia continued to oppose any form of autonomy, demanding that all territory return to regime control.
In February, the US announced it would keep troops in Syria, safeguarding the de-facto autonomous administration in the northeast, a move which upset both Moscow and Damascus.
In a letter to the United Nations Security Council in May, the Syrian government claimed the SDF was subjugating protestors in Deir al-Zor who allegedly demanded the “Syrian state resume carrying out its duties in that area.”
Demonstrators who launched protests in the province which ended last month were, in fact, demanding better services, not calling for Damascus to return.
The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the SDF, meanwhile, said Damascus has tried to divert attention from massacres against civilians in Idlib.
“This government should contribute to the creation of climates to launch a process of national dialogue,” SDC spokesperson Amjad Othman said in a statement, adding that a new constitution should be written which reflects the interests of all Syrians.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany