Kurds must be part of political process in Syria - Russian diplomat

Syria’s Kurds should have a place in the country’s political process, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday.

"The question - posed by us, the Kurds and other parties to the political process - has always been who and how should represent Kurdish interests … When talking about political process and drafting the constitution, it has been rightly assumed that Kurdish representatives must be included instead of being pushed away, which only fuels separatist sentiment,” Bogdanov told the Russian news site Sputnik.

Bogdanov’s comments, quoted by journalist Vladimir van Wilgenburg in an article for the news site Kurdistan 24, also touched on the lack of unity among Syrian Kurds, “who are divided between the Kurdish National Council (KNC), part of the Turkish-backed National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (Etilaf), and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is opposed by Turkey.”  

The PYD and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been under intense pressure this year from Turkish armed forces, which have captured territory from them in the northwest Syrian enclave of Afrin earlier this year and have been targeting their units in areas east of the Euphrates river in recent weeks.

Turkey waited for the withdrawal of Russian observers before launching the attack on YPG forces in Afrin in January, and Bogdanov indicated that the Turkey and Russia continued to share reasons to oppose the U.S.-backed Kurdish militias.

“They are somewhat different Kurds, but they [PYD] do control territory with US help, which is not something that Arabs or Turks are happy about, and neither do we understand it," he said.

Turkey views the YPG and PYD as grave threats due to their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has launched armed insurrections for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since the 1980s.

Moscow, meanwhile, sees the removal of U.S. forces from northern Syria, where they are stationed alongside their YPG allies, as a primary aim as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seeks to put down the last remnants of the Syrian revolution.