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3 reasons to oppose Kurdish territorial ambitions in Syria

Syria did not win the war just to lose the peace




With Russia and America engaging in ever closer cooperation with Kurdish forces in Syria and with the question of President Assad’s war against terrorism changed from one of ‘if’ to a question of ‘when’, it is necessary to example what the relationship between Syria and the Kurds will be in the conflict’s aftermath.

Furthermore, such a discussion cannot be had without taking the views of Syrian allies Russia and Iran into account. One must also consider the adversarial position of Turkey and the increasingly ambiguous position of a Trump led America who has exited the de-facto jihadist/Wahabist/Turkish coalition and switched to exclusively backing Kurdish dominated SDF forces.

When Russia was engaged in frequent wars with Ottoman Turkey and Qajar Persia in the late-modern period of the Russian Empire, Kurdish fighters saw an opportunity to achieve political and territorial gains at the expense of Russia’s regional adversaries and likewise, Russia saw the advantage of cooperating with fierce local Kurdish fighters. This was a relationship based on mutual self-interest.

After Turkey joined NATO (1952) and the Kurdish Works Party (PKK) was established in 1978 as a leftist revolutionary movement, the Soviet Union had reason to back the Kurds both on an ideological basis and to create leverage against Turkey, a NATO state that had been a traditional rival.

In 1998, PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was forced to leave Syria which had traditionally supported the PKK, in spite of long term problems with its own Kurdish insurgents.

Öcalan travelled freely to Moscow hoping to forge a closer alliance, but the economic woes of late 1990s Russia, combined with a generally stagnant geo-political climate in Moscow, meant that the meeting led to virtually nothing.

The Syrian conflict which started in 2011, is on the whole, a foreign conflict wherein terrorist proxies were funded by and acted at the behest of America and her NATO allies including Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Israeli citizens and Palestinian Hamas fighters have also participated in the conflict against the legitimate Syrian government.

The Kurds in Syria saw this as an opportunity to realise a longstanding ambition to create an autonomous region or even an independent Kurdish state on legal Syrian territory.

More recently, Kurdish fighters have cooperated with the Syrian Arab Army against a common enemy, Turkey. Russia has been fully supportive of this as an ally of both the Syrian Arab Republic and the Kurdish YPG forces. In spite of its leading position in NATO, the US which under Trump, exclusively backs the Kurds in the Syrian conflict, has not done anything to aid fellow illegal NATO invader, Turkey.

Many in both Russia and the United States are sympathetic to Kurdish desires for greater autonomy in a federal Syria. Others yet support the creation of a state of Kurdistan.

Here is why I oppose such proposals.

1. The Majority of Syrians Oppose This 

For the majority of Syrians who have fought to the death to preserve the territorial and constitutional integrity of their country for years, during a conflict with numerous enemies, any surrender of territory will be viewed as punitive.

Furthermore, because of Kurdish ties with Israel, one of modern Syria’s oldest enemies, having an autonomous zone or a state on Syria’s borders that could conceivably aid Israeli interests would be entirely unacceptable. Beyond this, wider federalisation could likely result in the same enemies of Syria who have participated in the conflict, attempting to carve out zones of influences in the would-be federal regions of the country. This would represent a big step backwards for a country that was unified and generally peaceful and prosperous prior to 2011.

If an ally of Syria such as Russia were to insist upon such a thing, it would be viewed as a stab in the back. Luckily, because unlike Turkey and the US, Russia respects international law, Russia has consistently repeated that this decision is up to the Syrian people alone.

It is inconceivable to patriotic Syrians who fought valiantly to preserve their Syrian Arab Repulbic, that the nature of the Republic should be changed as a result. It would be an example of Syria winning the war but losing the peace in a humiliating fashion.

2. The Kurdish Question Is Not Integral To The Conflict–It Is A Parallel Issue

In spite of conflicts between Syria and its Kurdish populations, the animosity between the two sides cannot be compared to that which transpired in Iraq (until the late 1990s), nor can it be compared to that which continues to occur in Turkey.

In the Syrian Arab Republic, Kurdish individuals may take Syrian citizenship and enjoy the same rights as Arab Syrians of any and all religious affiliations.

If there is any state whose war guilt both in Syria and whose actions against Kurds merits the attention of the wider world, that state is Turkey and certainly not Syria. Why should Syria be punished for what is first and foremost something that even most Kurds would admit is a Turkish problem? If there is to be a Kurdistan, the world should focus first on Turkey as this is the political epicentre of the Kurdistan question.

Also, it is important that the peace settlement which eventually come into force in Syria, recognises that the conflict is one between Syria and her allies versus jihadist terrorism. The running disagreements between Kurds and Damascus can be settled at a later date without external interference.

The cooperation between the Syrian Arab Army and Kurdish fighters against a common Turkish enemy is demonstrative of the fact that future disagreements can be and ought to be settled amicably. Furthermore, it can be done without resorting to federalising the country. Agreements come and go throughout history and there is no reason that opposition to federalism and separatism should prohibit some kind of mutually acceptable agreement under the framework of a unitary, sovereign Syrian Arab Republic.

Again, this can only be done through the consent of the majority of Syrians.

3. Iran’s Perspective 

Iran has been active in aiding the Syrian war against terrorism for even longer than Russia. Unlike in the 19th century, modern Iran is not only a highly important Russian ally, some would argue that Iran is Russia’s foremost ally in the Middle East.

Iran has its own dispute with Kurdish insurgents and for that reason alone, Iran would not be supportive of any measures which could see Syria set a precedent for Kurdish autonomy in Iran.

Iran is far more important to Russia than the Kurds and as a state, it is only sensible for Russia to put it as a priority before a stateless people, however close the ties might otherwise be.

For all of these reasons, Russia must consider the wider consequences of putting their full weight behind would-be Kurdish separatism or related calls for Federalism. This is not to say that Russia should abandon the Kurds. Russia should simply realise that ultimately., having good relations with Damascus and Tehran is not only more important to Russian interests but ultimately more just in terms of being a good partner.

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou



The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.


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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou



The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran



Via RT

Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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