Russia wants Syrian Kurds in Geneva talks despite Turkey’s resistance

March 23, 2017  – ARA News – Russia will work with Turkey to seek Kurdish involvement at intra-Syrian negotiations despite Ankara’s ambivalent stance toward the Kurds, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. “We will continue to look for solutions to this issue with our Turkish partners, including through contacts on the Astana platform, but it is not possible to postpone it in the long run,” Lavrov said at a news briefing.He noted the importance of “finding a solution on how to attract the Kurds to the Geneva talks.”

“It is not very easy to do, you know Turkey’s position,” the Russian foreign minister said.The next round of the Geneva talks is scheduled for March 23.Abdulkarim Omer, the head of foreign affairs for the Kurdish-led local administration in Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, told ARA News that Russia continues to support the Kurds despite of the improved relations between Moscow and Ankara after Turkish president Erdogan apologized in June 2015 for downing a Russian jet.

“We have good relations with the Khmeimim Base and Russia also wants us to participate in Geneva,” he said. “The crisis in Syria will only be resolved with the participation of the democratic forces that affect the land in the negotiations.” “We have visited the Russian Foreign Minister, and the Russians are in Efrin and Manbij,” the Kurdish official said in an exclusive interview with ARA News. The People’s Protection Units (YPG) recently announced that the Russians are training the Kurds in Efrin, and images were spread on social media showing Russian army vehicles driving near Jinderis in Efrin. Omer says that the Kurdish-Russian relations inside Syria are at a military level, but that the Kurds also have diplomatic relations with Russia. The official said that Turkey earlier reached an agreement with the regime and Russia to give Aleppo to the Syrian regime, while taking large parts of northern Aleppo in August 2016. “Their deal was to give Aleppo to the regime, while they take Azaz, Bab, and Jarabulus,” he said.

However, he added that Russia, Iran, and the Syrian regime do not support the Turkish-led forces to go further than al-Bab.“Manbij was already liberated with the support of America, and both America and Russia support us,” Omer told ARA News. The Kurdish official said that so far, 140,000 IDPs arrived in Manbij, which are supported by the local self-administration.

However, in the future five camps will be built for Raqqa IDPs [Internally Displaced Persons], with the launch of the operation to liberate Raqqa city–ISIS de facto capital.  Nawaf Xelil, a Kurdish analyst and former official from the Democratic Union Party (PYD), told ARA News that Turkey has bad relations with most countries, “and even called the Dutch ‘nazis’.”He added that Turkey cannot prevent relations between the Kurds and Russia.“Russia can have good relations with Kurds, and with Turkey. America has relations with Turkey, but also with us,” he said. Yesterday Redur Xelil said that the Russians are training to modernize our forces, and coordinate with our forces on the ground,” he said.