A DEVELOPING RUSSIA-PYD ALLIANCE
The step appears to be part of a developing alliance between the PYD and Russia. The Kurdish organization has opened an office in Moscow, and Russia has called for PYD representatives to be present at political talks, which resumed this week in Geneva. Last month, the Russians proposed a federal system in which Kurdish groups would gain authority from the center in Damascus.
Moscow has gone as far as airstrikes to support the YPG’s offensives against rebel territory last month.
Despite its reliance on Russia, the Assad regime immediately denounced the federal proposal, as did its other main ally, Iran. UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jaafari, the head of the regime delegation in Geneva, said, “The Syrian Kurds are an important component of the Syrian people … So betting on creating any kind of divisions among the Syrians will be a total failure,” he said.
The development brought a rare alliance between the regime and its opponents. Turkey is hostile to any boost to the position of the PYD, which has emerged as a leading Kurdish force because of its YPG militia.
Ankara believes that the PYD is led by the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK, which has fought an armed campaign against Ankara for more than 30 years.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official summarized Ankara’s objections on Wednesday, “Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity is fundamental for us. Outside of this, unilateral decisions cannot have validity.”
The opposition-rebel bloc has also been sceptical of the proposal, with coordinator Riad Hijab saying, “Any mention of this federalism or something which might present a direction for dividing Syria is not acceptable at all.”
US REACTS CAUTIOUSLY
The US State Department reacted with caution, rejecting any unilateral move but holding open the federal option if it were accepted by Syrians:
Spokesman Mark Toner said at his Wednesday press briefing:
We won’t recognize any kind of…self-ruled, semi-autonomous zones in Syria….We have been very clear about our belief in the territorial integrity and unity of Syria and we believe that the creation of these kinds of semi-autonomous zones now…would frankly be a threat to that.However, asked if the US would agree to a federal structure for Syria if this was chosen by the Syrian people, the spokesman replied: “Yes.”