Bouthaina Shaaban, a Syrian minister and political and media advisor to the presidency, speaks at the Valdai Discussion Club in Moscow, Russia, on February 19, 2019. Photo: Shaaban FB
MOSCOW, Russia — A senior advisor to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected the idea of Kurds partitioning the country.
“Autonomy means the partition of Syria. We have no way to partition Syria,” Bouthaina Shaaban told Reuters
in Russia on Tuesday.
Her comments were at odds with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad who said last month they were "optimistic" that they would reach a deal with Kurds in Syria.
The Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) and armed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control more than a quarter of the northeast of the country which they call Rojava.
She referred to the Kurds “a precious and very important part of the Syrian people."
However, they are politically at odds with the Kurdish National Council (ENKS or KNC) which has little presence inside the war-torn country.
Both groups have been in communication with Russia, which enjoys close diplomatic and military ties to the Assad regime.
“Syria is a country that is a melting pot for all people and all people are equal in front of Syrian law and in front of the Syrian constitution,” Shaaban added.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the Valdai Discussion Club's conference entitled 'Middle East: New Stage, Old Problems?'
The SDF, which is dominated by the People's Protection Units (YPG), is in the final stages of declaring a military defeat of ISIS with the support of the US-led international anti-ISIS coalition.
Turkey first violated Syrian sovereignty with its military campaign into al-Bab and Jarabulus, and then with an operation that occupied Afrin.
“Turkey has all the new ambition to occupy other people’s land and I think we are facing [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan who has dreams of reinvigorating and recreating the Ottoman Empire,” Shaaban said.
The SDF repeatedly have said they are open to conditioned talks with all players in Syria including Damascus. The conditions include
Talks of negotiations were accelerated when US President Donald Trump announced in December plans for his forces to withdraw. SDC co-chair Ilham Ahmed recently visited
Washington, D.C., to try to convince US leaders to slow the pull out.
Ahmed is now in London. On Wednesday, she will speak at the Westminster Debate at the House of Commons.