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Syrian Kurds are getting closer to Russia, and this has angered Turkey

This post was published in Heise.de. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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BERLIN, (BM) – The self-governing Kurds in northeast Syria have every reason to fear Turkey and the Islamist militias allied with them. According to the latest reports, the kidnappings of Kurdish women in Afrin are increasing, as are confirmations that the occupation of the Syrian territories conquered by Turkey amounts to a “Turkification”.

It is well known that the Islamist militias are acting brutally in the occupied territories. According to observations by the US Africa Command, they also confirm their bad reputation during their deployment in Libya. Interesting about this is an article that appeared in a US military publication a few days ago, according to which the Turkish secret service used the CIA support program of Syrian opposition militias to recruit Islamists according to their own interests.

Large parts of the Islamist militia leaders and militias supported by the United States under Obama with plenty of money (more than a billion dollars in total) should now find themselves among the allies of Turkey in the zones occupied by it in northern Syria.

Several times it was reported at this point that Turkey controls a considerable part of the water supply in the areas administered by the Kurds in north-eastern Syria and that there are always major problems when there is no water.

That is the background to a relatively small but not insignificant message. She reports on a rapprochement between Russia and the leadership of the SDC, the political arm of the SDF. The meeting took place in Moscow at the end of August and Foreign Minister Lavrov also joined. This put the meeting on a diplomatic level that attracted attention.

At about the same time, a Turkish delegation was also visiting, which, however, had to be content with lower-ranking Russian representatives. The anger in Ankara was all the stronger. The Turkish government reacted with criticism to the reception of the Kurds in Moscow, as did the representatives of the Syrian opposition in Istanbul, and in the USA the Moscow meeting will probably not have been received with undivided joy.

Although there was no official comment on the part of the US government, US policy in northeast Syria is neither interested in a Russian-Kurdish rapprochement nor in a rapprochement between the representatives of the Kurdish self-government and the government in Damascus, as Amberin Zaman of al -Monitor commented.

A Kurdish delegation led by the President of the SDC, Ilham Ahmed, and a Syrian delegation led by the politician Qadri Jamil, who belonged to the Syrian government from mid-2012 to autumn 2013, and led the Syrian “party des People’s Will “(Hizb Iradat Al-Sha’ab, English People’s Will Party) sits.

The party belongs to the parliamentary opposition in Syria and is portrayed as pro-Russia, probably because of its communist origins. Qadri Jamil is fluent in Russian. The small party takes on greater importance from its proximity to Russia and its bridging function, and the connection was probably also decisive for the meeting, including a photo session with Lavrov.

The next timetable

A memorandum of understanding was agreed with a few notable points. In connection with the unity of Syria, the withdrawal of all foreign troops not invited by the Syrian government is demanded. That would include the US soldiers. The demand that emphasizes decentralization and that the autonomous Kurdish administration should necessarily be included in a future political order in Syria is one of the accents set by the agreement.

The fact that the SDF will later be integrated into the Syrian army has already emerged in earlier “timetables”. Now the efforts of Russian mediation between the Kurds who administer Rojava and the government in Damascus have so far not produced any real results. As far as one can see, Bashar al-Assad is sticking to the previous form of government with a strong central power, and it was said that he was not prepared to make any concessions concerning the Kurds’ wishes for autonomy.

So the news of the meeting initially only has a signal character. The Kurds want to ensure that Turkey, with Russia’s consent, will continue to launch the next invasion of their area, so the explanation in the al-Monitor article. That is not guaranteed with this meeting and the Memorandum of Understanding, but Lavrov’s positive statement on this is a diplomatic step.

In addition, through their connection with the Syrian Party of the People’s Will, the Kurds have a direct contact person for the Geneva negotiations and in the constituent committee, with the opposition party also sitting at the negotiating table. Turkey prevented the Kurds from being represented there.

The extent to which the meeting in Moscow will have further real political impact could also be shown by whether, with the influence of the Russian government, the water problem can be resolved. One of the wishes addressed by the Kurdish delegation was the request that Russia ask Turkey to allow the water to flow to northeast Syria again.

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