Russia pushing Turkey into Rojava to force Kurds submit to Assad rule: PKK official

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Turkish army forces (R), and Kurdish YPG fighters (L). Photo: Jinda Ibrahim/ARA News

ARA News

Rıza Altun, member of the Executive Council of the PKK-led KCK, has heavily criticized the policy of Russia and suggested that Russia wants to use the Turkish enmity towards Kurds to condemn Syrian Kurds to Assad’s domination and rule.

“There is only one reason behind Russia’s tactic and them pushing Turkey into Rojava. They want to use Turkey’s enmity towards Kurds to condemn them to Asad’s rule. That is their policy. This is a very dangerous policy and Russia definitely needs to give up on it,” he said.

“Russia is in an unclean tactical relationship with Turkey, on the basis of the conflict they have with European and American presence in the Middle East and Russia’s alliance with Syria and Iran,” Altun told ANF.

“They are also thinking of integrating the SDF [Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces] into the regime by Turkey’s force. In fact, I don’t think the latest attack [by Turkey against Syrian Kurds] was carried out without Russia’s knowledge. I think Russia allowed such an attack. Like the US hit the regime, Russia could have hit the YPG headquarters via Turkey and taken their revenge,” the senior PKK official said.

However, he warned Russia that this will not work. “First, threatening Kurds with Turkey is a great delusion. They won’t achieve any results other than exposing themselves. Like they fought for the last 40 years, the Kurds will continue their fight against the Turks from now on as well,” he said.

“Second, strategically it’s a big mistake. The Kurds want a federal and democratic Syria. The Kurds who have this demand are a native people, they are not an external force or an extension of one,” Altun said.

“They [Russia] brought Turkey in and made them enter Jarablus and Bab, and now they say they will do the same for Efrîn. So, will Turkey offer them their gratitude and just go back? When one thinks of it strategically, we are faced with a horrific thing. Unfortunately, pragmatic and tactical politics can lead to destruction of strategy for short term interests. There is such a danger right now,” he added.

The PKK official warned Russia about trying to hand over the Kurds to the regime. “They may be greatly disappointed in the future. Bringing Turkey in is deepening the crisis, the chaos and the insolubility. Turkey stepping in like this may risk Syria fragmenting even deeper. Russia’s role is also key here. When they say they want to hand the Kurds over to the regime, they have to risk losing themselves, along with the regime,” he concluded.

Amberin Zaman, Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told ARA News that Russia is playing all parties to conflict in Syria.

“Russian is seeking to drive a wedge between Turkey and the United States. It is leveraging Kurdish fear of Turkey to help the regime encroach on their territory. Likewise it is leveraging Turkish fear of the Kurds to wrest concessions on the rebels and Idlib,” she said.

“The YPG’s [Kurdish People’s Protection Units] recent talk about going to Idlib after Raqqa is again probably encouraged by Russia so as to goad Turkey into action against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group (HTS). The surest way to squeeze them would naturally be for Turkey to seal that part of the border which continues to be a logistical lifeline for HTS and Idlib-based groups,” Zaman told ARA News.

“The Kurds do not have US protection west of Manbij, so it’s easier for the Turks, Russians and the Assad regime to cut deals there. At the same time the US is very keen to address the HTS threat as well, so it won’t necessarily oppose Russian-Turkish collaboration on that front,” she stated.

Timur Akhmetov, a Russian analyst on the Middle East, told ARA News that Russia prefers a strong government in Syria.

“For the Russian officials the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria] and Turkey have never been equal alternatives. The importance of the PYD in the Russian calculations is based on their presence along the strategically important Turkish border, non-conflictual stance on Assad and considerable fighting potential on the ground. But major disadvantage of the PYD is that it is a non-state actor that potentially may challenge central government,” he said.

“Russia thinks that a strong and effective central government [in Syria] is a cornerstone of a regional stability. This is why Russia engages the PYD with great diligence. On the other hand, Russia perceives Turkey as an important regional power and wants to make it a part of the solution in Syria. It would give Turkey self-confidence, reduce concerns about instability on its borders and, in the long run, more open to Russian suggestions on Syria’s political future,” Akhmetov told ARA News.

Moreover, he said that Russia is eager to plage the Kurdish card against Turkey to get concessions.

“In addition, Russian officials seem to acknowledge that the PYD may represent a serious threat to the Turkish national security. This is the reason why Russia is eager to play the Kurdish card against Turkey when it wants from Ankara concessions on Syria. However, Russia will never willingly push the Syrian Kurds against Turkey,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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