Top Syrian Kurdish politician in Washington says US position unclear

While in Washington, SDC co-chair Ilham Ahmed briefly met with US President Donald Trump who told her: “Don’t worry, I love the Kurds.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Ilham Ahmed, the co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), is currently on a visit to Washington DC to ensure Syria’s northeast remains safe after the withdrawal of US forces.

“This was not our first meeting in Washington,” Ahmed told Kurdistan 24. “There were many meetings before, but this time the situation is a bit different since the US made the decision to withdraw from Syria.”

While in Washington, the SDC co-chair briefly met with US President Donald Trump at the Trump hotel on Monday. According to a source close to her, Trump said: “Don’t worry, I love the Kurds.”

In December, President Trump announced he would pull American troops from war-torn Syria.

Ahmed reminded that the troop withdrawal would occur while there is still a threat from Turkey and other sides, and an ongoing battle against the Islamic State.

“On this basis, we want to meet some US decision-makers to discuss the situation to understand the final position on what they are going to do.”

The Kurdish official said it is unclear what Washington’s plans are after it removes troops, specifically the guarantee of security in the east of the Euphrates.

Many US policymakers and lawmakers have disagreed with Trump’s plan to withdraw troops. As a result, the SDC is pushing for alternative methods to the withdrawal to ensure no chaos after the 2,000 US troops leave Syria.

“All of these meetings with US policymakers are to make sure the area will stay safe, and will not end up in chaos,” Ahmed stated.

“We will ask members of Congress how to change the withdrawal decision so that there will not be an ISIS resurgence or any other group.”

On Monday, US Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced an amendment that would authorize Trump to defend Syrian Kurds.

Also, on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he would offer an amendment against the withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

Ahmed, meanwhile, emphasized that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had sacrificed 8,000 lives to protect the world from terror. Therefore, she said, the US should ensure that the Islamic State is defeated, and democracy is preserved in the region.

“This will come through negotiations between all the people inside this region and listen to them to resolve this issue.”

Since Trump’s withdrawal decision, the Syrian Kurds have begun to talk to Damascus and Moscow in search for alternatives. Syria’s Kurds want Russia to act as a guarantor “between us and the Assad regime,” Ahmed said.

However, she said Damascus had not taken any practical steps.

“There were only statements in the media [by Syrian government officials] about dialogue,” the senior Kurdish official told Kurdistan 24. “Dialogue is good for both of us, but in practice, nothing has changed.”

Ahmed called on both Damascus and Moscow to be more serious and work toward a solution.

“If there is no solution, there will be more devastation and division of the country.”

She also rejected statements by Russian and Turkish officials that suggested the Syrian-Turkish Adana Agreement both sides signed in 1998 could be renewed.

“This is against the people of Syria and a violation of Syrian sovereignty,” Ahmed stated. “There should be an agreement that respects everyone in Syria.”

She underlined that the Syrian Kurds never “had any intention to pose a threat to Turkey or any neighboring country,” and despite that, they have often faced artillery attacks from Turkey.

According to Ahmed, the Kurds in Syria have greater security concerns, not only threats from Turkey to attack the east of the Euphrates.

She also said Turkey threatens the Kurdistan Region as well and called on the Kurds there not to support just “one side.”

“For Turkey, every Kurd is a target. That’s why we see any threat or violation against the Kurds in the Kurdistan Region as a threat against Kurds everywhere.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany