Da­m­as­cus seeks ‘in­ten­si­fied’ talks with Kurds

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

the syr­ian gov­ern­ment hopes di­a­logue with Syr­ian Kur­dish groups will in­ten­sify, a min­is­ter said on Sun­day, sig­nalling sup­port for talks the Kurds hope will lead to a po­lit­i­cal deal be­tween two of the main play­ers in the multi-sided war.

The Kurds have sought Rus­sian med­i­ta­tion for the talks with Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad’s gov­ern­ment, part of their strat­egy to ill a vac­uum that will be left when US forces with­draw from the coun­try, as in­structed by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

Their aim is to guard against any in­va­sion by neigh­bour­ing Tur­key, which views the main Syr­ian Kur­dish group - the YPG - as a na­tional se­cu­rity threat, and to pre­serve au­ton­omy in north­ern Syria.

“We hope for the in­ten­si­ica­tion of the di­a­logue. Many of the Kur­dish state­ments were pos­i­tive re­gard­ing their con­cern for the unity of Syria,” As­sis­tant Syr­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Ay­man Sou­san told a small group of jour­nal­ists in Da­m­as­cus.

“We are conident that through di­a­logue we can deal with some of the de­mands ... and this di­a­logue guar­an­tees that, as long as it based on a com­mit­ment to Syria’s unity.”

A po­lit­i­cal deal could piece back to­gether the two big­gest chunks of a coun­try splin­tered by eight years of war, leav­ing one cor­ner of the north­west in the hands of anti-as­sad rebels backed by Tur­key — an ad­ver­sary of both the YPG and Da­m­as­cus.

Da­m­as­cus has pre­vi­ously stated its op­po­si­tion to the kind of fed­eral state sought by the main Kur­dish groups.

A Kur­dish politi­cian told Reuters ear­lier this month that the lead­er­ship of north­ern Syria had pre­sented Rus­sia with a road map for a deal and would pur­sue one re­gard­less of US plans.

Sou­san said in­ten­si­ied di­a­logue was im­por­tant when set against chal­lenges, “es­pe­cially the ex­pan­sion­ist am­bi­tions that lead the poli­cies of the Turk­ish regime.”

Rus­sia said on Fri­day it was im­por­tant for Syria’s Kurds and gov­ern­ment to start talk­ing in light of US plans.

Trump’s de­ci­sion to with­draw troops has been clouded by mixed mes­sages from Wash­ing­ton since it was abruptly an­nounced last month, catch­ing off guard al­lies in­clud­ing the Kur­dish-led Syr­ian Demo­cratic Forces mili­tia.

The Us-led coali­tion said on Fri­day it had started the pull­out process, but ofi­cials later clari­ied that only equip­ment, not troops, were be­ing with­drawn.

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