Syria to see regime, PYD con­fronta­tion, ex­pert says

In a con­fer­ence in Is­tan­bul, Carnegie En­dow­ment re­searcher Yezid Sayigh said the As­sad regime and the PYD are likely to bat­tle for pre­vi­ously Daesh-held ar­eas

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Regional - Yusuf sel­man İnanç – Is­tan­bul

AT THE con­fer­ence The Fi­nal Bat­tles of Syria’s War on Wed­nes­day, Yezid Sayigh said the fi­nal bat­tles in Syria might con­cen­trate on pre­vi­ously Daesh­held and cur­rently Demo­cratic Union Party- (PYD) held ar­eas since the regime is re­luc­tant to ac­cept po­lit­i­cal au­ton­omy for Kurds. The con­fer­ence was hosted by the Re­search Cen­ter for Global Pol­i­tics and Ad­min­is­tra­tion (GLOPAR) of Is­tan­bul Univer­sity with con­tri­bu­tions by the Raoul Wal­len­berg In­sti­tute. Sayigh works as a se­nior re­searcher at the Carnegie En­dow­ment’s Beirut branch and is known for his analy­ses of Syria and the Arab world with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to Pales­tine,

The mod­er­a­tor, pro­fes­sor Hik­met Kırık, sum­ma­rized the lat­est de­vel­op­ments in the war and raised the ques­tion of what to ex­pect in the short term in the dev­as­tated coun­try. Sayigh said there are three con­flict ar­eas for po­ten­tial armed bat­tles – north­ern Iraq where the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) held an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum op­posed by al­most ev­ery ac­tor ex­cept Is­rael; Idlib, where the Turkish mil­i­tary de­ployed troops to pre­vent any fur­ther ag­gres­sion by rad­i­cal el­e­ments such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS); for­merly al-Qaedalinked Jab­hat al-Nusra; and ar­eas cap­tured from Daesh by the PYD’s Peo­ple’s Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) milita. Sayigh said the big­gest con­fronta­tion would be be­tween the YPG and the regime, which hopes to re­gain con­trol of the whole coun­try again since the op­po­si­tion has re­peat­edly failed to act in con­cert.

Sayigh cited the Kur­dish drive for au­ton­omy, which would be mean­ing­ful po­lit­i­cally and be more than the rights of col­lect­ing taxes, hav­ing lo­cal po­lice or giv­ing ed­u­ca­tion in mother tongue. He said: “Kurds want lo­cal fed­er­al­ism and want it granted as a con­sti­tu­tional right. … No ex­ter­nal power will sup­port this de­mand.” On the U.S. po­si­tion, he said the White House has lacked a con­crete pol­icy since the be­gin­ning of the war. He said the U.S. might aban­don its ex­clu­sive sup­port for Kurds, es­pe­cially when their de­mands may pave the way for a fed­eral struc­ture.

On the other hand, Rus­sia and Iran have ea­gerly sup­ported the regime and will at­tempt to pre­vent it from los­ing its lat­est gains. “The U.S. will pre­vent the regime from car­ry­ing out mass at­tacks in Ro­java, but will not pledge to sup­port au­ton­omy,” he said.

He said the KRG lost while try­ing to gain more as it ig­nored se­ri­ous op­po­si­tion from Ankara and Tehran. De­spite the ex­is­tence of a peace­ful way to pre­serve the peace, in­ter­nal dis­putes con­trib­uted neg­a­tively.

With re­gard to one of the de-es­ca­la­tion zones in Idlib de­ter­mined in the As- tana talks, he said all of the ac­tors want HTS to be re­moved. De­scrib­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Idlib as a sus­pended con­flict, he said Turkey’s lat­est moves put Ankara in a more com­fort­able po­si­tion since it has the abil­ity to main­tain peace talks with Rus­sia and Iran and sup­port op­po­si­tion groups at the same time.

He con­cluded that op­po­si­tion groups in talks with the regime or Rus­sia will be con­vinced to take part in peace ne­go­ti­a­tions me­di­ated by Rus­sia with con­tri­bu­tions from Turkey and that Kurds will not be al­lowed to con­tinue to con­trol non-Arab re­gions and be pushed back to the north. How­ever, the re­cent crises in Le­banon might de­lay a fi­nal peace in Syria since it has the po­ten­tial to make sev­eral ac­tors con­front each other.

Res­i­dents search for sur­vivors amid the rub­ble of a build­ing fol­low­ing a re­ported overnight air-strike in Syria’s Idlib on Sept. 30.

Carnegie En­dow­ment re­searcher Yezid Sayigh speaks at the con­fer­ence “The Fi­nal Bat­tles of Syria’s War” Is­tan­bul, Nov. 8.

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