A Turkish incursion into Kurdish-held enclaves in northeast Syria could empower Russia
to mediate a deal between the Kurds and the Syrian government, said an analysis in
the Moscow Times on Tuesday.
Turkey and the United States last week started setting up a joint operations centre
in Turkey for a planned safe zone in northeast Syria, which Ankara demands for national
Turkey sees the predominantly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its affiliate,
the People’s Protection Units (YPG), as extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK) and has repeatedly said it plans to launch a military offensive against
the YPG, which controls some enclaves in northeast Syria along the Turkish border.
The YPG forms the backbone of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (ISIS)
Russia believes that U.S. support for the Kurds and Turkish support for Syrian opposition
groups contributes to continued foreign interference in Syria, according to Ruslan
Mamedov, a programme coordinator at the Russian International Affairs Council.
But Russia also cooperates with Turkey in Syria’s Idlib province, the last rebel-held
enclave in the country, where armed clashes between jihadi groups and Russian-backed
Syrian forces have escalated since April.
“The rationale seems to be that the start of Turkish military operation may in fact
benefit Moscow,” Mamedov said. “The calculation is that once Turkey launches its
assault and the Americans are unable to provide a cover for them, the Kurds may turn
to Russia, empowering Moscow to try to create the conditions for yet another attempt
at a rapprochement between the Kurds and Bashar al-Assad’s government.”
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last week that Moscow
supported dialogue between Damascus and the Kurdish administrations in the north
and east of the country.