By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
In an interview with AFP, Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces Senior Commander and Spokesman Redur Khalil stated “Reaching a solution between the autonomous [Kurdish] administration and the Syrian government is inevitable because our areas are part of Syria.”
The interview occurred shortly after United States President Donald Trump announced the upcoming withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
The statement might come as a surprise to many given the long and bloody civil war facing all of Syrian society, it does beg the question of whether it is the result of the realpolitik forced on the Kurds by Presidents Trump and Erdogan.
Since just after the inception of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, the Kurds fought largely against jihadist groups who nearly completely overran their traditional lands in the North East of the country. The turnabout in fortunes largely came after their victory in the Siege of Kobane, which largely drew in a stronger commitment from the United States who’s administration regarded an ISIL takeover of the city as too great a psychological and strategic victory to permit the terrorist organization. Occasionally over the years a form of détente occurred between the Kurds and the Syrian Arab Army where mistrust and a history of oppression by the Assad Government. Yet, both sides had a common cause in the sense that the Kurds could largely address the jihadists, allowing the Syrian government, their coalitions, and aligned militias to focus on the insurgency elsewhere.
While I disagree with statements made by the administration that ISIL in Syria is defeated, it is inevitable yet a bit premature for such a complete statement. The last vestiges of ISIL now remains in a small and diminishing pocket South of al-Sha’afa. The SAA last week sent a convoy of military vehicles to the area and the government went so far as reportedly permitting forces from Iraq to fire coordinated artillery into jihadist positions.
The well grounded fear of the Kurds is that Turkey will take advantage of an American withdrawal to launch an expedition into Syria to occupy Kurdish areas under the pretext of de-escalation of hostilities between warring factions. The same pretext was used under which Turkey sent forces into Northwestern Syria to assist the Free Syrian Army, al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and was reportedly suspected on occasion to offer benefit to ISIL.
With the repulsion of ISIL from Kobane, the Kurds expanded military control to nearly all of Rojova in the North East; inclusive of the international border with Turkey and expanded into Afrin at the North West, much to the consternation of Turkey.
Turkey’s concern is supported by the decades long insurgency by its Kurdish population in the East, mainly through the militia group the PKK which both Turkey and the United States classify as a terrorist organization. The primary fighting groups of the SDF (Syrian Kurds) are the YPG (People’s Yekîneyên Parastina Gel or People’s Protection Group) and the YPJ (Yekîneyên Parastina Jin, or Women’s Protection Group). Turkey regards these groups as being inextricably tied to the PKK and regard both as terrorist organizations. These groups receive materiel from the US Coalition forces, if indirectly. The connection between the PKK is arguably ranged between support and sympathy. In fact both the YPG and the YPJ view former PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence and imprisoned in Turkey, as a cultural icon and leader.
The Turks have stated that they will not permit an independent Kurdish state to surround the country at its borders, whether it be in Iraq or Syria and declared that it would not recognize a federation between the Kurds and Syria. In recent weeks Turkey mobilized ground forces sent to the Afrin and Kobane areas to reinforce border units and perhaps rattle sabers toward the Kurds. U.S. military units did provide a showing of colors to temper any hostility or opportunity that might be perceived. Probably one of the concerns the Turks have is that a Kurdish state might serve as a staging ground for insurgent attacks against Turkey or a safe-haven where materiel may be smuggled into separatists in the East.
Essentially the Kurds in Syria want a reassurance that after ISIL is vanquished and America withdrawals that Turkey will not take advantage of the vacuum to enter the country. Hence it the withdrawal might have actually pushed the Kurds toward making an official agreement with the Syrian government to at least on paper and in appearances to transfer sovereignty to Syria to deny Turkey a pretext for invasion.
Returning to the topic of the interview, Mr. Khalil said “Negotiations are ongoing with the government to reach a final formulation for administering the city of Manbij,” adding that talks had shown “positive signs. And, if the negotiations lead to an arrangement that protects the rights of Manbij residents the Kurds might be willing to allow this type of governance to occur in Deir Ezzor Province. “The tasks of these forces could change, but we will not withdraw from our territory,” Khalil said, adding Kurdish fighters could be integrated into the Syrian army. He also called for a new constitution that would guarantee Kurdish rights. (AFP)
While the row created by President Trump’s announcement of a quick withdrawal was upsetting to many on the ground, it is possible it might in the end be the form of Shock Therapy to motivate the actors to come to an agreement to secure the battlefields and the borders. It certainly will not be the most glorious solution, but there is something to be said about an agreement that all sides dislike equally.
By Darren Smith
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.
45 thoughts on “Kurdish Commander: “Deal With Assad Regime Inevitable””
Juan Cole has a lot of worthwhile contributions across many decades of misunderstandings.
Not perfect and I would disagree with many of his views but comparatively well informed across many subjects, as opposed to most middle east “commentators.”
I’d say that when he calls the term Islamo-fascist as an abohorrent term he neglects the fact that Islamo-fascists exist. That the man is intelligent is not a question. His problem is his biasis and terribly closed mind that gets in the way of clear thinking.
An example of his lack of lucidity is Cole’s claim that Omar Mateen who stated his allegiance to the Islamic State and who murdered 49 people is summed up in his statememnt “I don’t think it probably was terrorism in any useful sense of the term.”
BOLTON CASTS DOUBT ON IMMEDIATE PULLOUT
COMMENTS ADDS CONFUSION REGARDING TRUMP’S PLAN
White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday outlined conditions for a U.S. troop departure from Syria that appeared to contradict President Trump’s insistence less than a month ago that the withdrawal would be immediate and without conditions.
Speaking during a visit to Israel, Bolton said that certain “objectives” must be achieved before a pullout could take place. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.”
Bolton acknowledged that pockets of the Islamic State remain undefeated and that a quick U.S. pullout could endanger U.S. partners and allies in the region, as well as U.S. forces themselves.
Trump, who has declared the battle won against the militants, and just two weeks ago said he refused military entreaties for more time, said Sunday that he remained committed to the withdrawal but told reporters: “I never said we’re doing it that quickly.”
Edited from: “Contradicting Trump, Bolton Says No Withdrawal From Syria Until ISIS Destroyed”
Today’s WASHINGTON POST
This is one of those issues where Trump made a rash decision surprising his own people. And now it appears John Bolton is trying to walk-back Trump’s rash decision.
The Donald never sticks to anything he says. Mental case.
You make a horrid card player.
According to Juan Cole, The Donald is a Mofo.
According to a classy, new Congresswoman, Trump is MoFu.
I guess Juan Cole has a lack of control and good taste. Didn’t he support the intervention in Libya?
You don’t have the slightest idea of whether the decision was rash or not. In fact you don’t know what you are talking about. Trump has been talking about withdrawal from Syria for a long time even before he was President. The news media draws all sorts of conclusions and repeats them over and over again. It seems they can sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. Here is the WP article from April 2018.
“President Trump has instructed military leaders to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria as soon as possible and told them he wants Arab allies to take over and pay for stabilizing and reconstructing areas liberated from the Islamic State, according to senior U.S. officials.”
Pretty similar to the WP reports recently and at other times as well. There is no moderation in what the WP says. They intentionally hype the news for idiots like you so that you can repeat what they say without even knowing what happened. Trump doesn’t believe in being predictable. To persons with low IQ that confuses the heck out of them and turns them into blathering idiots.
Bolton has long been considered a war hawk, his remarks are unsurprising
The pullout is a great idea. It is arguably a violation of Syrian soveignty and an act of war, unauthorized by Congress, which of course has recently complained. That’s perplexing in itself. The 9/11 defense authorization is long in the tooth and Congress needs to get itself involved in its constitutionally required mandate of Declaring War again and quit leaving it all to the POTUS. Even as they whine about whatever the POTUS decides to do.
Moreover, the US have no place solving Syria’s civil war, nor the Kurds’ local problems at the expense of NATO ally Turkey. Nor do we need to game this in favor of Turkey. Just let them sort it out minus the ISIL troublemakers. This is not a conflict that the US can resolve.
Trump is to be applauded for his statement and I hope the military follows orders. He’s already ten times the peacemaker that Obama (never) was.
what i meant to say was that the placement of US armed forces into Syria, was itself an act of war, that perhaps should not have happened in the first place.
ISIL, moreover, may have been armed and finaced by Saudis, and there indeed may have been complicity, in the US under HIllary’s state department in running interference for them.
A lot of situations like this in the past decades have been something like this: US covertly exacerbates problems, then “solves” them with military presence. Enough of that!
Like Reagan’s pullout from Lebanon, after the barracks bombing, a lot of people complained and felt “abandoned” by then again it saved a lot of hassles for the US down the road.
ah lets fill in the blanks a little. israel backs “kurdistan”
Bolton is one of those Republican Likudniks
RIght now Bibi is also saying that Israel should be considered to have annexed the Golan Heights, which is DOA but that doesn’t stop the haggler from asking for it.
Trump is pro Jewish in a sort of general New Yorker kind of way, but dares to think that he is in charge of US armed forces. Is he? Let’s wait and see.
Israel has held the Golan Heights for 51 years and change. Syria has never been willing to negotiate anything but truces with Israel, so retrocession of the territory to Syria has never been an option. The Syrian Arab Republic is descended from a bloc of Ottoman subprefectures France had seized in 1920. The French government took about 14 subprefectures and assembled them into six states in 1920 and then two in 1925. It should be noted that the Arab population of the Golan was and is predominantly Druze and has certain privileges not extended to Jerusalem Arabs. (much less West Bank Arabs).
. israel backs “kurdistan
Why shouldn’t they? It’s a perfectly reasonable position to take.
“Trump is pro Jewish in a sort of general New Yorker kind of way”
I wonder what kind of way you are referring to. That along with your understanding of the war that led to Israel holding the Golan Heights makes one think that you ought to go back to the history books.
This is Orthodox Xmas eve. So we can now celebrate 12 more days of Xmas!
there are many Orthodox Christian Arabs in Syria and the socalled oppressive Assad regime has actually protected them for decades
A founder of the Baath party was one.
There was a story on the web about Erdogan on Thanksgiving. We should not discuss Turkey on Thanksgiving. Nor should we discuss Kurds on Crude Day. Which is today. January 6th 1941 is a day which will live in infamy. FDR was in office and was smoking. Millions of kids watched this on the news and decided it was ok to smoke. Millions died.
Right wing Republicans and other supporters of illegal wars and invasions will not go cold turkey on their own. There’s too much money to be made by the military security complex in support of corporate profits in the natural resources business. Just ask Rex.
Defense contributions backed Hillary
Good job Darren. People focus on the policy of withdrawal from Syria. I think they miss the point. It is not the withdrawal or an intent to remain that counts rather it is the ideas for future action behind the decision that counts. The big question is Iran’s physical movement toward the Mediterranean and desire to have control over Syria and Lebanon. The left has already exposed its thinking as it supported Iran with money etc. The secondary problem is our partner in NATO, Turkey. Turkey under Ergodan has too frequently acted against our interests or the interests of Nato.
What it appears Trump is trying to do is permit the nations in the region to feel the pinch of having to defend the area themselves. Thus we see unlikely alliances between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. We are not hearing about a complete withdrawal from Iraq so in essence American troops remain in the area. We have seen Iran tremendously hurt with the embargo and I think its trade has been cut in half and its Rial is now worth 1/4 of what it was worth before. This makes its expansionary desires more difficult. What will happen with the Kurds in relationship to Syria and Turkey is hard to predict.
Thus I believe the important issue is what Trump’s ultimate goals are and how he will pursue them whether in Syria or not. Nothing stops him from supplying aid or even troops in the future. We don’t know enough about the immediate deals being made, but we do know the threats in the area and the biggest threat remains Iran.
How many American soldiers, sailors and airmen are you willing to lose to save the Kurds? That’s the only calculus that matters.
That’s a legitimate question, but it’s more than just saving the Kurdish people. Do we have a strategic national security interest in saving the Kurds specifically, or more generally, Arab-Christians and other non-Arab Christians such as the Assyrian-Christians in the Middle East?
Dr Pieczenik was on Infowars about 5 months ago & explained why there is no value or benefit in the US staying in the ME.
i don’t have that link, but he was suggesting that the US should pull completely out of the ME, partner with Russian & India & focus on China’s aggression against most.
Notice recent headlines on real news sites, China is openly threatening to attack the US & Taiwan.
What, Seep State trying to slow walk us all into another World War?
What, Deep State trying to slow walk us all into another World War?
Or, the corollary: how many additional American soldiers, sailors and airmen are you willing to lose in the future because you failed to take action in the present to save a valuable ally? From history we learn these things. . .Think France/Great Britain regretted not assisting the Czechs in 1938 when Hitler marched into the Sudetenland; a time when it would have cost only a fraction of the bill circa 1945?
Marky, I guess that is why Iran the leading terrorist state and a country supporting Assad and looking to control all the land up Lebanon and the Mediterranian along with calling for death to America was so heavily supported by the Obama administration and the Democrats.
I am so sorry that you do not comprehend what I wrote about. Pro tip: a mind is a terrible thing to waste.
this is to “but what about HILLARY!” anon
Marky, I guess you are embarrassed by your hypocrisy mixed with a bit of idiocy that can’t recognize what the words “death to America” mean.
“Kurdistan” is not a nation like France or UK. It is the desired for homeland which would come at the expense of NATO ally Turkey. And sovereign adversary Syria. Exactly what does the US get out of favoring Kurds. Well in Iraq maybe a little but in Turkey and Syria nothing
Well, there’s that, but now, Phk the Sand & Death Box Middle East Rag Head Fascist, I’m all about Trump saving the the USA from the Commie/Nazis. Why, I sense my dead relatives that built this country will kick my azz now & in the afterlife if I do not demand our citizens from the slavery promoted by the Democrats & Rino Republicans that promote that slavery.
USA or get the Phk out & fast as I hear it as the tide is rolling in.
It is hard to quantify the magnitude and loss of innocent life caused by Obama’s lie “…no boots on the ground in Syria.” 400,000 dead, many if not most innocent non-combatants, an well over a million refugees.
Suppose person A is an innocent non-combatant ME Arab with no particular hatred or animosity toward America and Americans. Then one day a US bomb, launched by one of the alleged “Islamic moderates” the US arms and finances in Syria, incinerates all or most of person A’s family.
After such bombing, what thought do you think occupies most of person A’s wakeful hours? “How, where, and when can I kill as many Americans as possible, in the most heinous and hateful method?”
US military excursions in the ME: making the world safe for democracy, mom, and apple pie…
What does retired Army Colonel PhD. Douglas Macgregor think about the US in Syria? https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/case-leaving-syria-36517
Still haven’t finished off the Daesh.
There is no such thing as an Islamic Moderate only Islamic Nutjobs that demand the Islamic form of govt & demands the US form of a Republic be destroyed for their Ideology.
IE: Islam Is Not A Religion! It’s an Ideology.
this is false. there is a genuinely wide range of Islamic political opinion and governmental policy over decades if not centuries. Don’t let the obnoxious Wahabists make you think they are all crazies.
The history of Arab secular nationalism in general and the specific history of the Baath party of the Assads (and Saddam Hussein) was one of religious tolerance towards Arab Christians.
However they were strategic adversaries due to Nasser of Egypt cozying up to the Soviets. But at times the US found them congenial as when US backed Hussein against Iran.
Understand US strategy could care less about playing footsie with religious extremists. We have oftentimes supported them and the mujahadeen against the Soviets and Bin Laden case in point.
Selling weapons and giving air cover to jihaadists making war on Qadaffi another.
Life is complicated, don’t be too attached to labels. US was backing Al Nusra in the Syrian rebel alliance for a long time, and it was more or less the same thing as Al Queda.
Traditionally and historically Iraq has no tradition as a country nor does much of Syria nor any of Eastern Turkey. Much of that was part of the British Mistake same thing they did with Israel by setting up brand new countries such as Jordan.
Kurds however are a distinct and separate culture from the others do not have a history of genocide of non conformist to a specific part of the Muslim World and dates go back prior to the zero BC.or AD as you prefer.
Saladin was a Kurd who at one point ruled the entire area around to ‘Egypt. Alladin of fiction fame was the Old Man Of The Mount head of he Assassins Cult. (The spelling comes out a bit different each time) defeated by the Mongols under Ghengis Khan and again under one of his sons.
Unlike the Palestinians who moved in from across the Bosporus there is no question of historical claims with the Kurds.
Re-establishing Kurdistan by simply maintaining a forward base as we’ve done before ensures their freedoms and gradually allows full nation status again among other political, economic and military benefits.
It doesn’t qualify as anything the fair weather Turks state or claim and provides a barrier of sorts between Iraq/Iran and Turkey/Syria. . it also protects from the excessive genocide of the last decade as permitted by the Obama regime.
I recall the left bitching about Kuwait and asking what about other places. But when the other places came into play turned their backs as they generally do AFTER they have voted to go to war. Now they seem prepared to DACA the Kurds. and this time there are no stated reiigious reasons which the left have nothing to do with anyway except keeping the Catholics Latins from being able to vote anti abortion. Remember that.
But the last thing to remember. The President said he was withdrawing 200,000 ground forces not all ground forces. Nor withdraw any other forces. In the early 2,000’s the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan assisted by a dozen members of a Special forces A Team and assisted by USAF, USN, and others in ONE MONTH drove the Taliban out.
This was the last real mass cavalry charge involving US Forces among other things it set up the system of tactically advancing mountain pass by mountain pass and calling in eyes on the target air strikes. It was so successful the team was pulled out and not replaced even before they were not allowed to target taliban forces on the Pakistan border.
The left pulled defeat from the jaws of victory and then later said it was too difficult to retake the area. Bush versus Obama. Same thing will happen in Kurdistan because the left loves it’s wars more than anybody in the country. But they love even more than wars they start to claim they are the peace party.
Another reason our loyal military helped out in off duty time with the counter revolution of 2016 and why Obama did not dare to declare martial law. He would have been the first one handcuffed and deserved;so.
No one should be able to send troops to war who has not seen it up close and personal and survived. Not pentagon clerks but real soldiers. The left except for Coli Lamb and a few new others have no one qualified at all and a bad fetish for spilling blood for nothing . And before I read the bonespurs remark again identify yourself state your experience in combat or just STFU. As I recall the draft dodgers were ALL from the left without exception and then to chicken spit to get rid of the draft. .And nothing has happened to change my contempt for that last sell out.
We now all understand that The Donald, bonespurs and all, is actually the standard-bearer of the left!
Huh? Pro tip: when you get into your cups, it pays to have one of orderlies read it back to you; go ahead and push the call button, you’ll thank me later.
this is to “but I only had ONE bottle….I think” mikey
ah, the Northern Alliance. The Northern alliance a motley bunch of selfish warlords responsible for anarchy and heavily involved in the opium trade which had been opposed by the Taliban (for some time until they were thrust back into the position of rebels) and also involved in the disgusting practice of bacha bazi. A very disgusting cultural practice that the Taliban also opposed.
The American mass media will never give credit where due. there are reasons why Afghans did support and still support the Taliban. ……..
Just as there were reasons many koreans supported Kim, many Chinese supported Mao, and many Viet supported Ho. Nationalism, essentially.
Kurds are find and wonderful tribal nation but their problem of not having a lawful nation-state is nothing that can be solved by the USA without making more trouble that haunts us for decades or longer.
This is Juan Cole’s claimed area of expertise.
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