ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that his country stands against any attempt that undermines Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity following the independence referendum that was held by the Kurdistan Region last month.
President Assad received the chair of the committee of National Security and Foreign Policy of the Iranian parliament, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, in Damascus on Thursday.
Boroujerdi, who is on an official visit to Syria and had already visited the war-torn city of Aleppo, discussed a range of issues with the Syrian president, including the Kurdish referendum.
President Assad and Boroujerdi expressed their absolute rejection of any attempt that undermines the unity and the territorial integrity of Iraq or that of any regional country, Syria’s state-run SANA news reported.
Syria, which has been plagued by an ongoing civil war since 2011, is the Kurdistan Region’s western neighbor and has a significant Kurdish population who has already carved out their own autonomous region called the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, stretching across three cantons commonly known collectively as Rojava.
On Monday, the country’s foreign minister said that Damascus is open to discussions with Syrian Kurds about the formation of an autonomous region within Syria’s borders.
“They want some kind of autonomy within the borders of the Republic of Syria and that issue is open for negotiation and talks,” Minister Walid al-Moualem said in an interview published by Russia Today.
He stressed, however, that talks would happen only after ISIS is defeated in the country. Then they can “sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future.”
The Syrian regime has so far confined its opposition to the Kurdistan Region’s referendum to rhetoric with no actions announced.
While the central government of Iraq, together with its neighbors Iran and Turkey, has been coordinating steps against the Kurdish vote held on September 25, the Syrian regime has been absent all along, both before and after more than 92 percent of the Kurdish people voted for independence.
Syria by far has proved to be the weakest link when it comes to regional opposition to the efforts of the government in Erbil with regard to independence. There are no military drills between it and Iraq, as is the case between Iraq and Turkey and Iran over the borders of the Kurdistan Region.
The Iranian backed Hezbollah, a militia group that has supported the Syrian regime in their war against Syrian rebels, has already expressed opposition to the Kurdish vote, describing it as a plot masterminded by the United States and Israel.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran on Wednesday to rally regional support against the Kurdistan Region.
Iran’s Supreme Leader told President Erdogan in Tehran that they consider the referendum held by the Kurdistan Region as an act of treason and an attempt by Washington and Tel Aviv to create a second Israel.
Erdogan stated Thursday that they are planning together with Iraq and Iran to halt Kurdish oil exports to the international market via Turkey’s pipeline, and warned that his country's land borders will be closed “soon.”
Israel is the only country that has publicly supported Erbil in its bid for an independent Kurdistan.