MESOP NEWS Syria Daily: Assad Points to Battle With Kurdish “Traitors”

By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – 19 Dec 2017 – Bashar al-Assad has signalled his intention to attack Kurdish-led forces in Syria, declaring that they are “traitors” because of US support.Following meetings with a Russian delegation in which he sought economic assistance, Assad answered a question about his position on Syria’s Kurds, many of whom are seeking autonomy:

All those who work under the command of any foreign country in their own country and against their army and people are traitors, quite simply, regardless of their names, and that is our evaluation of the groups that work for the Americans in Syria.The remarks were aimed at the Syrian Democratic Forces, created in autumn 2015 and led by the Kurdish militia YPG. Backed by US special forces and weapons, the SDF has taken much of northern and eastern Syria from the Islamic State, including cities such as Raqqa and oil and gas fields. The advance, combined with pro-Assad offensives, has brought the two sides next to each other in areas such as Deir ez-Zor Province on the Iraqi border.

Assad’s senior advisor Bouthaina Shaaban promised this autumn that regime forces will soon defeat the SDF in battle. The talk had been tempered recently as attention to the Geneva political talks; however, the regime’s walkout of the discussions last week appears to have fed Assad’s renewed aggressive line.The Syrian ruler pushed away any talk of a political resolution yesterday, asserting, “The war on terrorism will only end when the last terrorist in Syria is eliminated, at which point there can be realistic talk of victory.”

Attacks on France and UN Envoy

Bolstering the regime’s refusal to talk with the opposition, Assad denounced both France and UN envoy Staffan de Mistura.

He claimed that Paris and De Mistura were “protecting” unnamed “groups that work for them”, giving a convoluted explanation:Of course for us we can’t even hold these groups responsible for the failure of Geneva for a very simple reason: they are vocal groups that work for dollars, meaning that if you give them a dollar, they will make a sound, and if you give them ten dollars, they will make various tunes of sounds according to how much dollars you give them.Assad was clearer in accusing France of being “the spearhead of supporting terrorism in Syria”.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron called Assad an “enemy of the Syrian people”.Macron supported political negotiations — “We have to speak to Assad and his representatives” — but continued, “Assad will have to respond to his crimes before his people, before the international courts.”

Assad to Russia: Give Us Money

Assad’s meeting with the Russians, led by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, focused on the regime’s need for assistance with reconstruction after a 81-month conflict which has reduced Syria’s GDP by more than 75%. The Syrian leader framed his request for money in a wordy explanation to reporters:This visit is an opportunity to promote existing projects and the sectors in which we started work, and at the same time expanding towards new sectors that we had not set as priorities two years ago. So, the delegation today is large and diverse and covers various fields, and very important projects have been proposed for Russian investments in Syria, particularly since we started the reconstruction stage now.

Assad gave no specifics, but Rozogin pointed to Russia acquiring a stake in Syria’s energy sector through reconstruction. He spoke of “rebuilding all of the country’s energy facilities” and emphasized: “Mr. President Bashar al-Assad said today that Syria has no desire to work with companies from countries which betrayed Syria at a certain moment.”Rogozin said Russia and Syria will create a joint company for phosphate mining.