The Syrian national flag flies over a building south of Manbij on December 30, 2018. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Syrian Kurdish administration is looking to Russia to mediate talks between them and Damascus that would include “comprehensive defence” of their territory, a senior official has said.
A delegation from the self-autonomous region of northern Syria went to Moscow to meet with representatives of Russia’s Foreign Ministry on December 14, 2018. The visit was prompted by America’s announced withdrawal from the country, leaving the Kurds exposed to an attack by Turkey.
In their visit, the Kurdish delegation presented a roadmap for dialogue focusing on protecting northern Syria “according to a comprehensive defence system of Syria from external threats,” constitutionally including their region in a unified Syria, and fair distribution of economic wealth in the country, Bedran Ciya Kurd, a senior official in the Kurdish administration, told local ANHA news on Monday.
They asked Russia to mediate such a dialogue. Moscow has a lot of influence over Syria’s affairs as Bashar al-Assad’s closest ally and a friend to Turkey.
Ciya Kurd said they were told by Russia’s Foreign Ministry they would take their role as mediator “very seriously” and were ready to “work together to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.”
The Russian’s are expected to formulate a plan for new dialogue based on the Kurdish proposal, he added.
The Kurdish administration tried talking with Damascus in the summer, but negotiations quickly died when the regime demanded too much from the self-autonomous region that wants to hold onto its achievements.
An unexpected US departure, however, has left them vulnerable to a Turkish invasion. Ankara considers the Kurdish groups terrorists with ties to the PKK.
US President Donald Trump, who initially wanted a speedy exit from Syria, has agreed to slow down the process after his announcement was criticized from all corners.
According to a New York Times report on Monday, he has agreed to give the military four months to withdraw its 2,000 troops. The military said they need time to make decisions about the equipment they have in the country – whether to move it out, leave it in the hands of the Kurds, or disable it so it’s useless if it falls into the hands of America’s regional foes like Damascus and Iran.
While Russia would like more details on Washington’s plan, it welcomed the US departure from Syria and said it wants to see the regime return to areas the Americans vacate.
Turkey has said that a military offensive against the Kurds won’t happen for a few months, but it has not eased up on preparations.
Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar spent his New Year inspecting troops on the border with Syria where he reiterated that they will not allow any threat on their border with Syria.