Don’t abandon us, Syrian Kurds tell Europe

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

Don’t abandon us, Syrian Kurds tell Europe

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.


President-elect Biden: Last thing Middle East needs is Iran with nuclear weapon

Updated 30 min 53 sec ago

President-elect Biden: Last thing Middle East needs is Iran with nuclear weapon

President-elect Biden: Last thing Middle East needs is Iran with nuclear weapon
  • Said Tehran would have to agree to new demands if return to deal was possible
  • Added Tehran must address its “malign” regional activities through proxies

LONDON: US President-elect Joe Biden said he is against Iran gaining a nuclear weapon, adding it is the “last thing” the Middle East region needs, in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday.

Biden also said that his administration would seek to extend the duration of “restrictions on Iran’s production of fissile material that could be used to make a (nuclear) bomb” in any new negotiations on a nuclear deal.

He added that Tehran would have to agree to new demands if a return to a deal was possible and that it must address its “malign” regional activities through proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Incumbent President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal struck in 2018 and reimposed strong sanctions on Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against the Islamic republic.

Biden, who defeated Trump at the ballot box last month, said during campaigning that he did not support the lifting of sanctions but intended to offer Iran a “credible path back to diplomacy.”

However, in the NYT interview published on Wednesday, he admitted that getting Iran to agree to a modified deal would be “hard.”

“Look, there’s a lot of talk about precision missiles and all range of other things that are destabilizing the region,” Biden was quoted as saying.

“The best way to achieve getting some stability in the region” was to deal “with the nuclear program,” he added.

The president-elect warned that if Iran acquired a bomb, it would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and that “the last . . . thing we need in that part of the world is a buildup of nuclear capability,” he added.

“In consultation with our allies and partners, we’re going to engage in negotiations and follow-on agreements to tighten and lengthen Iran’s nuclear constraints, as well as address the missile program,” he told the Times.

Biden was cited as saying that the US always had the option to snap back sanctions if needed, and that Iran knew that.

The JCPOA had given Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

* With AFP