SOHR exclusive | Dialogue between Syrian regime and Kurds: Shared interests or serious efforts to bring the conflict to an end?
For years, the Syrian regime and political Kurdish bodies have accused each other of “hindering dialogues between the two sides.” This dialogue is supposed to be sponsored by Russia which attempts to bring this major constituent of Syrian society to the regime’s fold, enabling the Syrian regime to regain a larger area of Syrian territory, especially since no political settlement looms on the horizon still.
On the other hand, Syrian Kurds see that the way to a workable solution starts by giving a chance to the Autonomous Administration, including its political arm “Syrian Democratic Council” (SDC), to participate in all negotiations and initiatives attempting to put an end to the conflict between all powers.
The Autonomous Administration has been all along complaining of being excluded from participation in the work of the constitutional committee which has started to draft Syria’s new constitution for two years now, but it has failed so far to do so due to obstacles and pre-conditions placed by the Syrian regime and the opposition.
It seems that the Syrian Kurds do not expect that the dialogue with Syrian regime will bring significant solutions for the current crisis, and they confirm that this dialogue never confers legitimacy on the Syrian regime as the “ruler” of the country.
In an exclusive interview with SOHR the Syrian-regime opponent Kurdish commander, Bashar Amin says “the recent dialogue or negotiation between the Kurdish movement and the Syrian regime has attracted the attention of Syrian and Russian political circles, as Moscow is seeking to enable the Syrian regime to reach a reconciliation with other Syrian constituents, so that regime can regain control of the rest of Syrian territory, as a part of Russia’s solution for the Syrian crisis. In this context, Russia started dialogues with the administration of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and took advantage of the Turkish threats of launching a large-scale military operation to exerted pressure on ‘PYD’ in order to force it to accept the Syrian regime’s reconciliation, not to reach a settlement or start negotiations regarding the future of the Kurdish-held areas. Russia has released important statements recently regarding the Kurdish situation in Syria, hinting at a status similar to that of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Kurds have welcomed these statements.”
Mr. Amin adds, “Syrian regime has been still evading discussing the Kurdish issue or proceeding with a solution satisfactory to the Syrian Kurds, as a part of needed political settlement in general. The Syrian regime has not even paved the way for a solution, as most leaders of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) are still persecuted by regime security. If the Russian statements are serious and Russia intends to guarantee the negotiation or dialogue between the two sides, an appropriate solution will come to the fore.”
Speaking to SOHR, the official in the Kurdish National Council, Hawwas Akid sees that Syrian Kurds of all political backgrounds have been supporting the political settlement and dialogue since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution. This dialogue was available in the first stages of the Revolution, even before the issuance of the international resolutions. Dialogues have not led to any tangible developments, while the Autonomous Administration was not interacting in the beginning, since these dialogues were not related to direct international resolutions regarding attempts to reach a democratic political governance. Such form of governance was supposed to meet the Syrian people’s aspiration, and recognise constitutionally the rights of all segments of Syrian society, including the Kurds, put an end to tyranny and dictatorship and guarantee a fair and real participation of all Syrians in the decision-making process.”
Mr. Akid has stressed that the Syrian regime is not content yet with a political settlement and continues its intransigence by turning to military solutions which have forced millions of Syrian people to displace and led to the disappearance of thousands others throughout Syria. He says “SDC sees that every dialogue has to be comprehensive and based on the international resolution. There have never been any dialogues between the Kurds and the Syrian regime, but there was a Kurdish-Kurdish dialogue supervised by the USA, some points of which have been approved, while some others have been dismissed. I hope that this dialogue will bring the desired outcomes. Based on its political vision stemming from understandings with different parties allied with (PYD), the Kurdish National Council stresses that the Kurds are a part of the national democratic opposition and that they are advocates of fundamental and comprehensive change which aims to achieve democracy, pluralism and decentralisation in Syria.”
On the other hand, Abdullah Sarhan Kado has confirmed to SOHR that the reports of preparations for dialogue with the Syrian regime refer only to the Kurds of the Autonomous Administration, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as the other Kurdish bodies, such as the Kurdish National Council, refuse to negotiate individually with the regime. Mr. Abdullah has said “the meetings held between Syrian regime and ‘PYD’ in the past few days were halted temporarily, as the regime did not accept either cooperation with ‘PYD’ or the conditions its command set, which are manifested in conferring legitimacy on the activities of the party’s military forces and politicians in the area it runs.”
“The Syrian regime is still clinging to inclusiveness and as long as it believes that its allies’ support will enable it to continue authoritarianism and monopoly of power and regain local, regional and international legitimacy, the regime dares not go into any democratic experiments, even if these experiments will be confined to a specific part of Syria. The regime also believes that the PYD’s ‘cold’ stance on the media will not continue for a long time. However, announcement by the leader of PKK, Cemil Bayik, who had stated that he would never allow any disagreements to take place with Al-Assad’s family which hosted ‘their president’ Abdullah Ocalan for two decades, contravened with this stance. Accordingly, the regime act indifferently towards PYD demands,” added Mr. Kado.
Commenting on the participation of the Kurds in negotiations by international powers for reaching a political settlement in Syria, Abdullah Kado says “the Kurdish National Council participates in these negotiations, while ‘PYD’ is still absent, as it acts like it does not support or oppose the Syrian regime, although its activities clearly service the Syrian regime’s interests. In addition, the Democratic Union Party has claimed that it follows a third way. Accordingly, there is no place for ‘PYD’ in these negotiations which run between Syrian regime and the opposition.”
Fouad Aliko, the member of Yekiti Kurdistan Party tells SOHR “there is a considerable gap between the objectives of each side during this dialogue, as the Democratic Union Party demands regime make into law the autonomous and military administration in the area under its control, which means that the Syrian regime will have to recognize SDF autonomous and military administration and include this law in Syria’s constitution. On the other hand, the Syrian regime only seeks devolve nominal power to local authorities and provinces like in the areas where reconciliation deals have been struck, such as Daraa, as regime has never intended to change the state constitution or grant autonomous administration to any other body in Syria. According to the current situation on the ground, there is no imminent change in the stance of either side.”