Moscow intensified its diplomatic efforts last week with the aim of reaching an agreement that would convince Ankara to abandon the ground military operation that it has repeatedly announced its intention to carry out against areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.
The new Russian proposal was to withdraw the SDF forces and keep the Kurdish internal security members (Asayish) alongside the Syrian security forces, in addition to raising the Syrian flag, and re-working government departments. The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar indicates in this regard that “this proposal is somewhat similar to the Russian plan that was applied in the south, where the “opposition factions” remained alongside the government forces, which ended the fighting in this area, and transferred the conflict to the political situation.”
Abdul Basit Hammo, a member of the Kurdish National Council, argued in a statement to the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper that “Russian attempts have not reached any understanding so far between the active forces, as Moscow wants the solution to be similar to Daraa. That solution would be to hand over the area to the Syrian state, provided that the SDF turns into a local force and nothing more. Under this agreement, the SDF would abandon the Autonomous Administration and the region would become affiliated with the Syrian state in all aspects.”
“The SDF has rejected this proposed solution because it demands acknowledgement of its presence in the region and demands that Damascus recognize the Autonomous Administration,” Hamo indicated. “The continuation of dialogue must continue between the SDF and Damascus under Russian auspices. Hamo expressed his hope that the negotiations will result in “an understanding that satisfies all parties and prevents military intervention; otherwise, local communities will face another tragedy, which will increase waves of displacement.”
After some time, the United States met the new Russian approach with deliberate hesitation and an escalation by Washington. According to the sources of Al-Akhbar, the United States provided assurances to the SDF that Manbij and Ain al-Arab would not be harmed because of their great importance to the Autonomous Administration, which the United States is trying to establish in Syria.
The newspaper added that “U.S. officials told SDF leaders that the solution to the issue of Tal Rifaat remains in the hands of the Russians. This prompted the Autonomous Administration to announce its approval of the implementation of the Russian plan in Tal Rifaat only. However, Moscow insisted that the settlement should include Ain al-Arab and Manbij as well, especially since these two areas are covered by the Sochi Agreement signed between Turkey and Russia in 2019.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.