Everyone seems to agree that the recent Russian surprise move in Syria is to its advantage. The Russian government declared that it had achieved most of its aims in Syria and decided to continue its operations there with a smaller forces. As the current ceasefire seem to hold the necessity of further air attacks is much diminished. About half of its planes in Syria were ordered to fly back home. Significant forces will stay deployed and the planes could be back within 24 hours should the need arise.
A Russian source on the ground explains how this fits into a larger plan:
Russia has managed to turn the balance of power up side down in six months of its intervention in Syria. Regardless the control of a vast strategic land to the regime in Damascus, the Kremlin forces all parties to sit with Assad representative around the Geneva table when these were rejecting the idea for the last four years of war. Russia is pushing for a free election, within the area under the regime and the rebels’ control, under the supervision of the United Nations.
Russia, according to high-ranking sources, informed Washington, Damascus and Tehran of its step of reducing forces in Syria. The Kremlin expects from the United States to exert its promises to impose on regional parties, i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to stop all sorts of weapons and financial supply to all rebels without exception. The USA is confident to obtain from its regional allies in the Middle East this commitment at the cost of joining the bombing, with Russia, of all those willing to continue fighting and violate the open-date Cease-fire in Syria. Saudi Arabia and Turkey see no longer Syria as a possibility to implement their old plans and agreed to act accordingly.
We will see if the U.S. is really committed to this plan. Will it stop arming al-Qaeda or will it launch another crazy attempt to achieve “regime change” in Syria.
It would be out of character for Washington to just let go and to let Russia win the cause. That is why I suspect that the U.S. somehow arranged the following scheme.
The Syrian Kurds have no place at the table in Geneva. Russia has pushed for their inclusion but failed. Still the Kurds are in a decent position. They have military support from the U.S. as well as Russia and the Syrian government has agreed to give them some form of autonomy.
It would have been smart of the Kurds, led by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), to bag these achievements and to stay out of the way of the further process. The Russians can be trusted to take care of the Kurdish interests in Geneva. But in typical Kurdish fashion they try to go for more and overreach:
A powerful Syrian Kurdish political party announced plans Wednesday to declare a federal region in northern Syria, a model it hopes can be applied to the entire country. The idea was promptly dismissed by Turkey and also the Syrian government team at U.N.-brokered peace talks underway in Geneva.
The declaration was expected to be made at the end of a Kurdish conference that began Wednesday in the town of Rmeilan in Syria’s northern Hassakeh province.
The Kurds already have autonomy and there were only few, if any, clashes with the Syrian government. There is no need for them to unilaterally federalize some parts of Syria. There is nothing to win with a federalization that no one else will recognize. To demand federalization now is like opening a can of nasty worms just the moment everyone set down to have a nice meal.
Tensions are high in the Al-Qamishli District today, as the Kurdish “Assayish” forces surround the National Defense Forces (NDF) at the Al-Qamishli security box. Reports from the Al-Qamishli District claim that the Assayish forces have arrested several NDF fighters in what is expected to be their expulsion from northern Syria.
The Al-Qamishli District is ethnically diverse, with Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, and Arabs all living in this densely populated region. The Assayish Forces will have their hands full if they attempt to seize all of the government-controlled area because the Assyrian “Gozarto Protection Forces” (GPF) are heavily armed and make-up one of the largest militias in the Al-Hasakah Governorate.
So just as everyone is calming down and working on a political solution the Kurds throw a wrench in the works and start a new fight with Syrian government forces.
I do not understand such thinking. Whatever the future political situation in Syria will be, the Kurds will not gain a viable independent state. The Turks hate them and are instigating new schemes against them by supporting their own splinter Kurdish proxy group. The Barzani mafia in north Iraq does not like the PKK/YPK Kurds at all. Neither Russia nor the U.S. will promise them any long term (financial) support. Whatever they try, the Kurds will continue to depend on the capabilities and monies of a Syrian nation state with the capitol in Damascus. They do not have any income source. Attempts to export oil would be blocked by its neighbors and their borders can not be secured without heavy weapons.
Why upset the Syrian government and its armed forces when the gains made so far are still reversible?
I can think of no sound reason for the Syrian YPG Kurds to do this now. But it may well be that someone in Washington (or elsewhere?) thought that it would be funny to upset the playing board by pushing the Kurds to take these self-defeating steps. But why would the Kurds agree to do this?