Russia as a manipulator in solving the Syrian Kurdish problem

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 Russia as a manipulator in solving the Syrian Kurdish problem


The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has mobilized all parties concerned in advance. They have contacted Russia directly or established relations with Russia in order to obtain their support and coordination. Solving the SyKurdish problem will become the focus of the next stage of the game between the parties.

The sudden announcement of the withdrawal of US President Trump from Syria last month has aroused heated public opinion. Some people believe that the main contradiction in the Syrian war will change from anti-terrorism to the struggle between Turkey and Russia over the Syrian Kurdish issue. Others predict that the Astana process is in danger of dying. However, it is striking that all parties concerned on the Syrian Kurdish issue are competing to contact Moscow in the hope that Russia will mediate in the middle in order to safeguard its own interests.

Be able to speak to all parties

First, the Syrian Kurdish armed forces engaged in an urgent dialogue with Russia and the Syrian government they supported. According to reports, the supreme commander of the Syrian Kurdish armed forces secretly visited Moscow and Damascus and submitted a secret agreement to the Russian side and the Syrian government in order to return the border areas under their control to the government forces in exchange for the support of the Syrian government for Kurdish self-government. Then Turkey indicated that President Erdogan would hold talks with Russian President Putin on Syria, and Iranian President Ruhani would also participate in the talks under the framework of Astana.

In fact, on the current strategic chessboard of Syria, Russia is the only player who can speak with all parties. The Russian side, relying on the Astana framework, dominates the narrative development and becomes the manipulator of solving the Nakurdish problem.

Russian coordination is indispensable

As far as Turkey is concerned, since the outbreak of the Syrian war, Syrian Kurdish armed forces have been busy fighting terrorism and rebellion by using the Syrian government. By cooperating with the United States to fight against the Islamic State (IS), they have expanded their territory under control and controlled most parts of the Syrian-Turkish border. As the Syrian Kurdish armed forces are inextricably linked with the Turkish-recognized terrorist organization Kurdish WorkersParty, the sitting of the Syrian Kurdish armed forces, especially the control of the Turkish-Syrian border areas, makes Turkey panic and regard it as a direct threat to Turkeys security.

Whether by force or by peaceful settlement of the Syrian Kurdish armed issue, Turkey can not do without Russia. Last year, the Turkish side acquiesced in the Russian side before launching the olive branch operation against Syrian Kurdish armed-controlled Afrin and occupying the area. Now, Erdogan is eager to find Putin to show that the Turkish side still wants to promote peace by war and hopes to resolve its security concerns by peaceful means through Russian mediation.

Moreover, no matter morally or competently, the Turkish side can destroy the Syrian Kurdish armed forces. To eliminate the threat of Syrian Kurdish armed forces, Turkeys bottom card is to restore the pre-war ethnic proportions in the Syrian border areas. In other words, the Syrian Kurdish armed forces will shrink, withdraw from the territory they gained from the war and be taken over by the Arabs. In addition, for the Turkish side, the border between Turkey and Syria is about 800 kilometers long. It is very unsafe to be controlled by the armed forces of Syria-Kurdistan. It is necessary for all parties concerned to make proper arrangements to resolve the concerns of the Turkish side. To achieve these two points, it is difficult to achieve without Russian coordination.

For the Syrian Kurdish armed forces, the withdrawal of US troops from Syria is a matter of time. Combining Moscow and Damascus to deal with the Turkish military attack is the only choice for Syrian Kurdish armed forces. It is imperative that the Syrian government troops go to the Syrian-Turkish border to resist possible military attacks by the Turkish side. At the same time, the Syrian Kurdish armed forces will also use large areas of land in their hands as chips to bargain with the Syrian government on issues such as regional autonomy and oil and gas resource allocation in order to safeguard their vested interests.

Of course, as far as the status of the post-war Syrian Kurdish armed forces is concerned, this issue is not only related to the two aforementioned, but also directly related to Turkey and Iran. As there are a large number of Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq, neither side wants to see the Syrian Kurdish armed forces enjoy too much power of local self-government, fearing that this will affect the status of their own Kurds.

As for the Syrian government, it holds a contradictory attitude towards the growth of Syrian Kurdish armed forces. On the one hand, the Turkish side was delighted with the weakening of the Syrian Kurdish armed forces and supported the reduction of the territory under its control; on the other hand, it welcomed the assistance of the Syrian Kurdish armed forces in the face of the military offensive by Turkey. However, around a series of important issues such as how to define the relationship between Damascus and the Syrian Kurdish armed forces, clarify the Syrian Kurdish armed status, and divide its jurisdiction, the negotiations between the two sides will not be smooth, nor will they rule out the possibility of local conflicts. The pace of US withdrawal and Turkish military pressure will also have an important impact on the negotiations. Russias mediation between the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurdish armed forces is indispensable.

The US-Turkey Program Needs Russian Cooperation

From the perspective of the United States, Turkey is an ally, and the Syrian Kurdish armed forces are its allies in the fight against IS. The United States abandoned Boltons tough stand of pressing the earth to support the Kurdish armed forces and adopted the moderate view of Secretary of State Pompeo that Turkey is not guilty, that is, the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria does not harm the interests of the Turkish side, nor does it harm the interests of the Syrian Kurdish armed forces. On the 14th, the President of Turkey and the United States agreed by telephone to establish a 20-mile-deep safe zone on the Syrian side, separating the two sides of the earth depot. However, the Turkish-American assumption violates the integrity of Syrias sovereignty. Without the consent and cooperation of Syria and Russia, the establishment of the so-called security zone will become empty talk.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria in advance will mobilize all parties concerned, directly contact or establish relations with Russia, seek their support and coordination, and solve the Syria-Kurdish issue will become the focus of the next stage of the game. (Wu Zhenglong, former Chinese Ambassador to Foreign Countries)

Source: Responsible Editor of PLA Newspaper: Ma Chao_NBJ9865