MESOP UP TO DATE : THE “CEASEFIRE”, GENEVA & FEDERALISM IN SYRIA / THE KURDS
Syrian Kurdish groups are planning to declare a federal Kurdish region in the north of the country, according to senior Kurdish officials who have been party to recent discussions. The declaration would stop short of independence, instead creating “a federal region of northern Syria, with equal rights for Arabs and Turkmens,” the New York Times reports. The United States and Russia have encouraged political decentralization to end Syria’s civil war, but the parties to the current proximity talks in Geneva — the Assad regime and the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) — oppose a federated system. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said that the United States would support the arrangement if it is part of a negotiated political settlement, but that it opposes the unilateral declaration of a federal region. Turkish officials have also rejected the plan. “Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity is fundamental for us. Outside of this, unilateral decisions cannot have validity,” one foreign ministry official told Reuters.
The proximity talks in Geneva are continuing today. U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura met with new opposition delegations last night; a representative of the Cairo, Moscow and Astana Groups said she was optimistic about the discussions but the move could cause problems with the HNC, which has opposed their inclusion in the talks. The head of the Assad regime’s delegation is still refusing to meet directly with the HNC, stating that the HNC’s lead diplomat is a “terrorist.” Read more: www.mesop.de