Utrinski gambit

Utrinski gambit

Observer “Kommersant” Maxim Yusin about the situation in Syrian Kurdistan.


With the Kurdish-Turkish front in the Syrian Afrin come news pulled on a full-fledged sensation. The representatives of the Kurds in the last month, leading the fighting against the advancing Turkish army, announced that in the coming days (if not hours) in the region will be included Syrian government forces. Monday this information was confirmed in Damascus.

Thus, the responsibility for the situation in the Kurdish Canton of take on official Syrian authorities, and further progress in foreign territory, the Turkish expeditionary force threatens to develop in the inter-state conflict, in which, parenthetically, could theoretically be involved not only Syria, but behind it Russia.

Since this development is hardly included in the plans of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, we can assume that the input is in the Afrin of the government army will help stabilize the situation there, and eventually eliminate one of the fronts of the Syrian war.

In the end, Ankara needs not Afrin as such, but the assurance that Syrian Kurdistan will not become a stronghold of Kurdish separatists that threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

But this raises a lot of questions.

First, as Ankara and Damascus will share Afrin, what turn will hold the demarcation line between the armed forces of the two States.

It is possible that Bashar Assad will demand the complete withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syrian territory, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan will refuse to do, because then it turns out that all the victims in the course of “operation Olive branch” was in vain, and the Turkish soldiers conquered Afrin for the Syrian President.

Second, the Turks will almost certainly require guarantees that the control of Damascus over the Kurdish areas will not be purely nominal, for show and that the structures that are in Ankara consider a terrorist and associated with the separatists, stop their “subversive” activities. And this can cause problems, as it is these structures and control today, Syrian Kurdistan. Completely dismantle the Bashar al-Assad has neither the strength nor the means nor the desire.

Before the beginning of the Turkish operation Damascus and Moscow have offered to the Kurds to go under Syrian jurisdiction and to admit into its territory by government troops. But then the local authorities refused. Was hoping that a full-scale Turkish invasion will not happen, that somehow it will cost. Not done.

If the currently proposed scheme will be implemented, Syrian Kurdistan will be divided between two local coalitions.

The Western, smaller portion (Afrin) will move into the area of responsibility of Damascus and Moscow, then as a main area in the East (Manbij) will remain under de facto control of the United States and its allies. And if after Afrin attention of President Erdogan will be able to switch to these areas (as he has repeatedly promised to “restore order” in Manbij), for Moscow and Damascus, it would be the best option.

But for that to happen, you first need to solve many contentious issues that arise around Afrin. This, as you can guess, the Russian diplomats and the military and will be closely engaged in the coming days and weeks.