By Firas Samuri for VT
According to the source, a conference on the determination of the Kurdish-held areas’ status is expected to be carried out in Northern Syria. The media has not yet confirmed this information, but such a meeting had been long-awaited.
Referring to a number of influential experts and journalists (Diliman Abdulkader, Farhad “Fred” Khosravi, etc.), the source reported on a summit of Syrian Kurds, including leadership of forces opposed to Bashar al Assad, political parties, also community and civil society organizations leaders will be held in Ayn Issa town of Northern Raqqa under the sponsorship of the US. The event was marked as “Kurdish Congress” in invitation letters sent by facilitators, and the agenda contains issues of legitimation of the Kurdish administrative-territorial entity in Syria and the post-war settlement.
Furthermore, the source added representatives of the UAE and Saudi Arabia, that are partners of the US in the coalition, also have been involved in organizing the meeting.
It is planned that at the conclusion of the Congress participants will release an appeal to the Syrian President Bashar al Assad requesting the recognition of autonomy and providing local administrations with the broad repository of the powers, the source pointed out.
If it would be released, the backlash of the Syrian government against such a statement is not difficult to predict. Since the beginning of the crisis, Bashar al Assad has repeatedly stressed that he intends to regain control over all territories of the country without exception. Every mention of the Kurdish autonomy has caused harsh responses by Syrian government and military officials until the start of fighting against Kurdish forces. It is evident that the Congress facilitators cannot ignore it, which means that they deliberately provoke tensions between Damascus and Kurds.
Moreover, if the information of Saudi and UAE representatives participation is confirmed, the current trend towards the gradual restoration of partnerships between the Syrian government and other Arab states, including the Persian Gulf monarchies, will be under attack. It is noteworthy that this thaw of relations is carried out bypassing interests of Washington, which allies are witnessing a reduction in the US ability to resolve the Syrian conflict and one by one are moving to rebuild bilateral relations with Damascus.
At the same time, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s interests in the participation in the Congress has a rational explanation. SDF backed by the international coalition is managed to take control over desert areas of Deir Ezzor province, where most of the Syrian oil and gas fields are concentrated. Arab monarchies can offer stable funding and weapons supplies in exchange for guaranteed volumes of fuel production for resale on the local and even global markets. Such a deal is becoming more attractive for Kurds as the American presence in Syria is decreasing. However, it is short-sighted to rely on equality of the parties in this scenario: there is information that Saudi Arabia and the UAE will require control over 40 per cent and even a larger share of all volume of extracted hydrocarbons in exchange for their concessions.
In any case, Turkey, one more ally of the White House in the Middle East, will suffer apparent losses. The strengthening of Kurds positions supported by the US and Gulf states is the last thing that Ankara needs at the current stage of the Syrian conflict. The emergence of Kurdish autonomy, if not precluded, then at least questioned the prospects for the Turkish initiative to create a “security zone” along the Syrian border. However, such an arrogant disregard for the interests of a key regional partner is well within the logic of the development of US-Turkish relations, which are recently arranged in a model of strict dictation by the United States. This model is visible in the conflict over the acquisition by Turkey of Russian S-400 missile systems, in forcing Turkey to comply with US sanctions against Iran, and in many other aspects of the interaction between Washington and Ankara.
Against this background, it is worth recalling reports on the poisoning of Kurds and US SOF personnel in Syria that appeared some time ago on the Internet. Officially, practically nothing is known about this incident, neither the exact reasons or the persons who could stand behind the organization of the assassination were established. One of the explanations of such an information vacuum may be that an organizer of the incident was one of the “partners”, who could impose censorship on sensitive information.
Each on the list — Arab monarchies, Turkey, Kurds and even the Americans themselves — had reasons for it. Saudi Arabia and the UAE will benefit from the escalation of tension between the Kurds and the Syrian government, which inevitably becomes a subject of suspicion in any such cases. This would enable Turkey to not to face the protests of Damascus regarding activities of the Turkish troops in the Kurdish-held areas in Syria. The Kurds themselves could use the incident as another argument in favor of creating autonomy and ensuring security within its borders, and the Americans as an argument for the need to maintain a military presence and pressure on intractable Turkey’s authorities on the Kurdish issue. But it is still convenient for all these influential players in the region to demonize Bashar al Assad and his allies to achieve their vested interests.