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Russia prioritizes Turkey over Rojava in talks with Damascus - report

Russia prioritizes Turkey over Rojava in talks with Damascus - report

2019/04/12 | 23:35

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)-

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A Kurdish politician claims that Russia has prioritized its relationship with Turkey over Rojava and it is preventing negotiations between TEV-DEM and Damascus from taking place, according to a report. Russia had “not played its role after meeting the Turkish side many times and this is what led to the blocking of the path of dialogue with Damascus and Russia bears the historic responsibility,” Badran Jia Kurd, the representative of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) to Russia told Reuters late on Thursday. With the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declaring the military defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) last month and President Donald Trump making it clear that the United States does not want to participate in nation building in Syria, officials in Rojava have hoped Russia would be an intermediary for them with Damascus and Ankara.“The Russians froze the initiative which Russia was supposed to carry out and it did not begin negotiations with Damascus,” Kurd added.Senior officials from the Syrian regime met with an opposition committee in Damascus earlier this month, but Asharq Al-Awsat made no mention of Rojava officials participating in the talks sponsored by Moscow. “Russia is still claiming that it is working on that initiative but to no avail," added Kurd.NES governs more than 25 percent of war-ravaged Syria, primarily east of the Euphrates with the protection of the US-backed SDF and its political arm, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC).

Russia, which has a direct mandate from Damascus to be in the country unlike Turkey or the United States, has looked to leverage to have a Middle East foothold that as it continues to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

Turkey opposes Assad's rule, as well as any kind of autonomy for Kurds like those who belong to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of the Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), which have formed the backbone of the SDF.Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday in Moscow where they discussed the eight-year conflict.Putin said they were unable to reach an agreement to set up a joint monitoring center in the Turkish-backed rebel stronghold of Idlib."We have so far not been able to create the monitoring centre," Putin said, according to AFP. "But I am sure that we will do this."

Russia and Iran — Assad's primary backers — have been unable to reach a deal with Turkish-backed opposition groups through intra-Syrian peace talks in Astana.The three are the guarantors of ceasefire deals which have repeatedly been broken.

"Let me emphasise that Russia and Turkey will continue their effective cooperation in the framework of the trilateral Astana format with Iran’s participation," the Kremlin stated after the meeting with Erdogan.Rojava has avoided large-scale confrontation with Assad loyalists and repeatedly says it is open to negotiations with anyone; however, it has conditions.

"Importantly, we are guided by the necessity of preserving the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria. The division of the country into zones of influence is unacceptable," the Kremlin added.The Turkish presidency issued a similar statement underscoring joint steps to ensure "peace and security" in Syria.“We have reiterated that we will not allow an organization in northern Syria which will pose a threat to Turkey’s security and Syria’s territorial integrity,” President Erdogan said. “Just like DAESH was great threat, the YPG/PYD is a threat of the same nature. With the elimination of DAESH, similar organizations and threats must also be eliminated," the Turkish presidency stated.The UN estimates around 400,000 people have been killed during the Syrian conflict. Half of all Syrians have been displaced at one time or another during the conflict.

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