The Kurds have released a number of statements with regards to the Astana Memorandum that appear to contradict each other. On the one hand, they referred to the decree calling for safe zones in Syria a ‘crime’, claiming that it would lead to sectarian partition and federalisation. But isn’t partition indeed what the Kurds – or at least many of them want and always wanted? In this instance, they share the same objective as the terrorist factions: to divide and conquer albeit to a much smaller degree and for vastly different reasons.
The reality is that, despite this positive memorandum drafted by Russia, Iran and Turkey to reach a peaceful settlement in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Kurdish problem is not going away anytime soon, in fact, it may become a problem all of its own.
Americans have positioned their troops between Turkish forces and Kurdish dominated Syrian Democratic Forces(SDF) in North-eastern Syria to act as a buffer zone. This, along with Turkey being a signatory of the Astana agreement and America feeling excluded, has exacerbated the existing fractious relations between the two countries. Having been so publicly shunned from international developments, especially ones approved by UN, America is moving closer to the Kurds, and further away from Turkey who seeks to weaken the Kurdish insurgency in the region. However, the two NATO powers are likely to meet again.
There are two reasons why America is so keen in aiding the Kurds. Firstly, Donald Trump has openly expressed sympathy for them, one might reasonably assume because they are secular. He likes them for the same reasons he likes Israel.
Secondly, having invested 6 years in this war, the Americans are unlikely to walk away without a small victory of their own. In this respect, it may well be that if the Kurds do not get their beloved Kurdistan, they may just claim a substantial amount of autonomy in the region. If the Kurds continue to insurge despite the new peace settlement, and if they – along with their American partners prove to be too much of a liability for the Syrian Arab Army, realpolitik may be the only practical and peaceful answer and President Assad being the pragmatist that he is, might well agree to grant them the autonomy they so desire.
If President Assad does not willingly succumb to the Kurdish demands, and if the Kurds, with the help of the Americans manage to establish a Kurdistan in the north, the problem could be manifold, but not so much for Syria who would be more or less absolved of the Kurdish responsibility if such a thing were to happen. That would be both a good, and bad thing: good because the Turks would re-direct their attention entirely to Kurdistan, bad because it is unjust that Syria should be forced to give up part of her land.
But the Kurds have already been emboldened by their territorial claim in Northern Iraq which if a Kurdistan were to be established, it would likely first be established in Iraq.
But will the Kurds be able to claim a part of Syrian land? If so, where would all this leave Turkey and America? It would leave them responsible for the Kurdish problem, fighting one another in Kurdish territory, with Turkish forces continuing their political and sectarian war against the Kurds, and Americans trying to prevent the Turks from destroying a would-be US satellite state, depending on how far Donald Trump’s administration is willing to go to achieve this aim.