Don’t abandon us, Syrian Kurds tell Europe

Kurdish official Aldar Khalil played a key role in establishing Syria's semi-autonomous Kurdish region in 2013. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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Don’t abandon us, Syrian Kurds tell Europe

  • The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been leading the fight against the Daesh group in Syria for the past four years
  • Khalil explained that the Kurds might need to seek protection from Assad unless their Western allies stepped up

PARIS: A top Kurdish official has called on Europe not to abandon Syrian Kurds once the battle against the Daesh group is over and to help set up an international force to protect them from Turkey.
European powers “have a political and moral responsibility” to the Kurds, Aldar Khalil told AFP in a interview in Paris, warning that the Kurds would seek the protection of Syrian President Bashar Assad if failed by Europe and the US.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been leading the fight against the Daesh group in Syria for the past four years, backed up by air strikes from a US-led coalition of powers.
With Daesh’s self-declared caliphate now in ruins, the Kurds fear being left at the mercy of Turkey after the US declares mission accomplished in the final battle for the militants’ last holdout.
Turkey considers the SDF to be a terror group and is threatening to invade the area under Kurdish control.
Khalil appealed to Europe for protection.
“If they (Europe) don’t meet their commitments they are effectively abandoning us,” Khalil said late on Sunday, calling on France particularly to work at the United Nations for the creation of a buffer zone along the border with Turkey.
“France can table a proposal to the Security Council on our protection, suggesting an international force between us and the Turks — of which it would be part — or to protect our airspace,” Khalil said.
The senior political representative, who played a key role in establishing Syria’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, said that it could be modelled on the UN peacekeeping force deployed along Lebanon’s border with Israel.
Khalil explained that the Kurds might need to seek protection from Assad unless their Western allies stepped up — and he spelled out the terms of a possible deal.
“We will be obliged to agree a deal with the (Syrian) regime so that it deploys its troops along the border and protects us,” Khalil explained.
He said that the Kurds would insist on maintaining autonomy and demand that the border troops be Kurdish.
“They would come under the orders of the Syrian army, but be our units,” he said.
In return, they would offer to give the government a cut of the Kurdish region’s oil revenues.
“We can also agree to raise the regime’s flag,” he added.
Eight years into the conflict that has killed more than 360,000 people, Assad controls nearly two-thirds of the country and is anxious to win back more territory.
On Sunday, he warned the Kurds that the US would not protect them against Turkey.
“No one will protect you except your state,” he said.


Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 8 min 24 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined Arab states on Tuesday in condemning a decision by the United States to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Breaking decades of international consensus, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Saudi Arabia firmly rejected the decision and affirmed its position that Golan Heights was occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The declaration, made by the US, is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the report said.

The US decision was a violation of Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981, and would have devastating implications on the peace process in the Middle East, as well as security and stability in the region, Saudi Arabia’s official statement said.

Saudi Arabia called on all parties to respect the decisions of international legitimacy and the charter of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory,

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.