The Kurds are spread over different countries, the victims of colonial carve-up of the Muslim East (aka the Middle East) but they tend to make decisions that are not in their own best interest. Their latest move, a declaration of autonomy in northeast Syria is one such example. This is likely to complicate the possibility of achieving a political solution to the 5-year-old war on Syria.
Thursday Mar 17, 2016, 12:07 DST
It came as no surprise when Damascus rejected a unilateral declaration by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) to establish a federal system in the north. The Syrian government described the declaration as ‘unconstitutional’ and said it had no political value.
“Raising the issue of a federation or that of federalization would affect the territorial integrity of Syria, which goes against the Constitution, the national concepts and international resolutions,” Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted a Foreign Ministry official today (March 17) following the Kurdish announcement.
While the Kurdish move was reported a day earlier, the PYD made a formal announcement of autonomy in the predominantly Kurdish areas in the north of Syria following a conference in the northeastern province of Hasakah. A spokesman for PYD reported that a vote was taken to create a federal system in Syria in which the Kurds want their autonomy.
Informed observers believe that the Kurdish declaration would complicate, and perhaps sabotage indirect talks underway in Geneva since Monday March 14. Steffan di Mistura, the UN Special envoy for Syria is conducting these talks between representatives of the Syrian government and an assortment of Saudi-backed opposition groups that call themselves the High Negotiations Council (HNC).
There are huge differences between the two sides in terms of what they want from the talks. The Syrian government has categorically rejected the HNC demand that at the end of the transition period, there will be no role for President Bashar al Asad or his officials in a future political set up in Syria. Foreign Minister Walid al Muallam has described this as Damascus’s red line. He further said it was agreed that there would be no pre-conditions to the talks and that the people of Syria will ultimately decide who is to rule.
For more than five years, Saudi-US-Zionist-Turkish backed terrorists have wreaked havoc in Syria leading to more than 250,000 deaths and some 11 million people displaced. Gradually, Syrian government forces backed by allies Hizbullah, Islamic Iran and the Russian air force have pushed back reclaiming considerable territory from the terrorists. This forced the terrorists’ backers to return to the peace talks, even if held indirectly.
A UN-brokered ceasefire underwritten by Russia and the US went into effect on February 27 and has largely held. The hope is to build on this and get the various groups to agree to a roadmap for a political solution.
While the Geneva talks have been underway, the Syrian Kurds have been pointedly kept out of the talks under pressure from Turkey. Their unilateral declaration of autonomy is seen as a pressure tactic to send a message that they can act as spoilers.
The declaration made at the Rmeilan meeting is definitely provocative and is hardly likely to advance the cause of peace. Syrian officials have repeatedly warned against any attempt to “undermine the territorial integrity of Syria and the unity of its people.”
“Any declaration to that effect would be without any legal value and void of any legal, political, social or economic effect as long as it does not reflect the will of the entire Syrian people with all their political leanings and social spectra, who are all committed to the national unity and territorial integrity of their country,” the Syrian official added.
Prior to the foreign-instigated war on Syria, people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds lived peacefully even if there were rumblings of discontent about political representation. Now that the Syrian government has shown willingness to establish an all inclusive system to accommodate all groups, the Kurds and others have started to make illogical demands.
If pursued, they are likely to derail the peace talks even if held indirectly.
Meanwhile, the people of Syria continue to suffer as a result of the foreign-sponsored terrorists and their political enablers.