Russia wants to end the Syrian conflict on its own terms – expert

Russia allowed the Turkish army to launch an incursion into northwestern Syria to gain concessions from Turkey for the final settlement of the Syrian civil war, an expert told German public broadcaster DW.

“When Russia sits down with Turkey, Iran, and later with the Americans, at the Sochi peace conference, it will want to achieve a deal that guarantees the longterm survival of the Syrian government — although not necessarily the Assad regime,” Kristian Brakel, an expert on Islamic studies and the director of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Istanbul, was quoted by DW as saying.

The initial Russian proposal for a new Syrian constitution included autonomy for certain regions, in line with the demands of the Syrian Kurdish political groups, Brakel said.

But Russia also wants to avoid the Kurdish militia becoming overconfident, he added, especially given the U.S. arms and diplomatic support provided to them in the fight against the Islamic State.

Turkey has a clear objection to Kurdish statehood on its border, and the Russians have so far allowed Turkey’s bombardment of Afrin “in order to gain later concessions from the Turks in Sochi,” in the Russian-led peace talks for Syria.

But while offering Kurds independence in Syria to counterbalance Turkey, Russia also needs to convince the Syrian regime and Iran, neither of which are amenable to Kurdish autonomy.
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