UN Security Council refuses to back Russia on Kurdish role in Syria talks

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin.

Russian ambassador to UN Vitaly Churkin.

EPA / Vostock-photo
Western member countries of the UN Security Council have blocked Russia's draft resolution on Syrian negotiations in Geneva.

In an interview with the TASS news agency, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin has said that the western member countries of the UN Security Council have vetoed Russia's draft resolution proposing to guarantee the representation of all elements of Syrian society at the upcoming round of inter-Syrian talks, which is supposed to start on April 11.

Churkin expressed his perplexity concerning why the Russian initiative was not understood at the Security Council, stressing that "all segments of Syrian society" must participate in the political process, adding that the western countries' stance "contradicts UN Security Council resolutions on the inclusiveness of the political process in Syria."

The Kurdish dilemma

According to Churkin, the contradiction between Russia and its opponents amounts to the fact that Russia is worried that the Syrian Kurds have still not been represented as an independent delegation in the Geneva talks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had already said that Russia would "strongly insist" that the Kurds participate in the political regulation of the crisis.

The Turkish government, which considers Kurdish organizations terrorists, is against the participation of Kurds in the Geneva process.

However, the Kurds already declared the federalization of Syria and the creation of their own autonomous statelet in the country's north in March. Neither Syrian President Bashar al-Assad nor representatives of the opposition have recognized Kurdish autonomy.

A secular force

Vladimir Akhmedov, Senior Collaborator at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Middle East Studies, explained why it is so important for Russia that the Kurds are represented at the Geneva talks.

"The Kurds, unlike many groups active in Syria, have an identity that is based on ethnicity, not on religion. They contain a powerful secular charge," he said.

Akhmedov believes that, as a secular force that is not interested in religious hatred, the Kurds can become one of the keystones for the rebirth of statehood after the end of the civil war, especially as a part of Syria's future armed forces.

"The Kurds are very good fighters and their formations constitute a major power," he said.

A possible solution

At the same time Akhmedov notes that the Western countries are afraid of supporting the Kurds because the latter wish to present themselves separately from the delegations sent by the Syrian regime and the opposition.

"If the talks are held between the regime, the opposition and the Kurds, it means that they are a third force, a force that can make demands, including those concerning their autonomy. But for now the talks are about something else, about the establishment of peace in the country," he said.

In Akhmedov's opinion, the solution to the situation can be having a part of the Kurds join the government delegation and a part join that of the opposition.

"In the end, they are also disunited: There are some among the Kurds that support the regime and some that are against it," he said.

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