CNN International’da yer alan habere göre, Suriye Demokratik Güçleri (DSG) Genel Komutanı Mazlum Kobani son gelişmeleri tartışmak üzere ABD’ye gidiyor.
CNN International’da yer alan habere göre, Suriye Demokratik Güçleri (DSG) Genel Komutanı Mazlum Kobani son gelişmeleri tartışmak üzere ABD’ye gidiyor.
BY TOM O’CONNOR
The United States’ primary allies in Syria have supplied oil to Damascus, despite the government being sanctioned by Washington.
The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, and the Kurdish forces that comprise the majority of the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have long maintained a working relationship despite vast political differences before and after a 2011 rebel and jihadi uprising that has threatened both of their livelihoods. As the two factions emerge as the most influential forces on the ground, their ongoing ties are receiving new attention.
The dialogue between the Syrian government and Syrian Democratic Forces has centered on the former’s need for oil from resource-rich regions held by the latter, which has demanded greater autonomy. U.S. plans to withdraw from the conflict following the virtual defeat of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), however, have expedited Kurdish desires to be on good terms with Damascus.
Reporting by Turkey’s official Anadolu Agency and Daily Sabah newspaper cited local sources Thursday as saying that a new deal had been reached to allow the People’s Protection Units (YPG)—the leading faction of the Syrian Democratic Forces—to more quickly transport oil via new pipelines being built under the government-held, eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
The sources claimed that companies operating under government control had already begun laying pipes near Al-Shuhayl, a town off the western bank of the Euphrates River that divides the separate anti-ISIS campaigns waged by the Syrian government in the west and the Syrian Democratic Forces. The deal was reportedly the result of an agreement made during talks last July when the two sides agreed to share production profits.
The day after the Turkish report was published, The Wall Street Journal published its own piece citing a person familiar with U.S. intelligence and a tanker driver transporting oil in elaborating on the arrangement. The article found that oil tankers were traveling near daily to transport oil to the Qatarji Group, a firm hit by U.S. sanctions in September due to its alleged involvement in facilitating oil deals between the government and ISIS.
The official U.S. military mission in Syria was limited to defeating ISIS, but Washington and its regional allies previously intervened in the country via support for insurgents attempting to overthrow Assad, whom they accused of human rights abuses. The U.S. began targeting ISIS as it overtook half of both Iraq and Syria in 2014 and teamed up with the Syrian Democratic Forces the following year, just as Russia intervened on Assad’s behalf.
Since Moscow stepped in, the Syrian military and pro-government militias—some of which were Iran-backed Shiite Muslim paramilitary groups mobilized from across the region—have retaken much of the nation, leaving only the northwestern Idlib province in the hands of the Islamist-led opposition now primarily sponsored by Turkey, and roughly a third of the country under the Syrian Democratic Forces’ control in the north and east.
The Syrian Democratic Forces’ share includes most of the nation’s oil resources, which produced up to 350,000 barrels per day prior to the war before dwindling to about 25,000, according to current estimates, while the government still controls the nation’s oil refineries. The successful Syrian Democratic Forces campaign to retake the oil and gas fields from ISIS helped to starve the jihadis of their black market revenue. Now Damascus is in dire need of this income to establish an economy stable enough to capitalize on successive military victories.
This has led to a number of profit-sharing agreements, extending back to at least 2017, as Damascus continued to pay the salaries of workers in Kurdish-held cities and talks expanded last year to include the Syrian government potentially retaking control of certain facilities such as the Al-Tabqa dam near the northern city of Raqqa. In return, the Syrian Democratic Forces have pushed for wider recognition of the country’s significant Kurdish minority and for greater self-rule. More than anything, however, the militia has now sought the Syrian government’s protection against a common enemy.
Turkey, a fellow U.S. ally, considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization due to suspected ties to a Kurdish separatist insurgency at home. With President Donald Trump planning to soon withdraw from Syria, many Kurdish fighters have expressed fears that their protective umbrella would close. Pro-government groups, too, have clashed with the Syrian Democratic Forces in apparent attempts to seize oil and gas infrastructure, which—along with the rest of the country—Assad has vowed to reclaim through diplomacy or force.
Though Trump has vowed to protect the Kurds in the event of a U.S. exit, he also accused them last month of “selling the small oil that they have to Iran,” even though “we asked them not to”—a charge denied by leading Syrian Kurdish politician Salih Muslim in an interview with journalist Mutlu Civiroglu. Like Syria, Iran was subject to extensive sanctions by Washington, restricting its ability to market oil internationally.
Iran has, however, sent up to 10,000 barrels per day to Syria, as estimated by TankerTrackers.com and reported by The Wall Street Journal, furthering both countries’ economic interests in a development that has prompted anxieties among Arab states feeling increasingly sidelined by Tehran. As the Syrian Democratic Forces rushed to repair relations with Damascus, a number of Arab League states have also begun to repair ties gradually in hopes of steering Syria away from Iran.
Suriye’de çatışmalar hafiflerken, yolsuzlukla mücadele, ekonomi ve siyasetin yeniden inşası gibi sorunlar gündeme gelmeye başladı. Bu dönem halk arasında “ülkeyi bekleyen ikinci savaş” olarak tanımlanıyor.
Hevseroka MSD´ê Ilham Ehmed li Washigtonê di panelekê de got, ew alîkariyê ji bo projeya xwe ya siyasî dixwazin û divê ew di nava çareseriyeke siyasî de cihê xwe bigirin.
Bi organîzasyona ARCDEM´ê (Navenda Rojava a ji bo Demokrasiyê ya Emerîkî) bi navê “Piştî DAIŞ´ê? Bakurê Sûriyê li ber duriyanekê” li paytexta Emerîkayê Washingtonê panelek bi rê ve çû. Di vê panelê de Hevseroka Meclîsa Sûriyeya Demokratîk (MSD) Îlham Ehmed, ji zanîngeha Columbiayê Prof. David L. Phillips, analîstê ji Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Nicholas A. Heras û nivîskara pirtûka “Nearamiya Civakî û Baregehên Eskerî yên Emerîkî li Tirkiye û Elmanyayê ji 1945´an ve” Amy Austin Holmes weke qiseker amade bûn. Rojnamevan û analîstê siyasî Mutlu Çiviroglu moderatoriya panelê kir. Li mekanê panelê Press Club a li paytexta DYE´yê, gelek kes û rojnamevan amade bûn.
Destekê bidin projeya me ya siyasî
Hevseroka MSD´ê Ilham Ehmed axaftina destpêkê ya di panelê de kir û got, “Li Sûriyê niha krîzek heye, û ev krîz kûrtir bû. Em projeyeke nû ji bo Sûriyeke nenavendî pêşniyaz dikin û em hez dikin vê projeyê li tevahiya welêt pêk bînin.”
Ilham Ehmed ji bo dewra Tirkiyeyê li Sûriyê eşkere peyivî û got, “Dewleta Tirk li Sûriyê bi roleke gelekî xirab rabû. Li Efrînê wan komkujî kirin. Pirraniya xelkê Efrînê bi darê zorê koçber kirin. Wan çete û malbatên wan anîn Efrînê û demografî guherand. Wan mal û milkê xelkê dizî û dest avêt jinan.”
Îlham Ehmed navê terorîzmê li van kirinên dewleta Tirk kir: “Em dizanin ku ya Tirkiye dike terorîzm bi xwe ye. Îro, ya em dibêjin ew e ku divê ewlekarî û aramiya herêma me bê parastin. Ya ku em dibêjin ev e; me ewlekariya dinyayê parast (li dijî DAIŞ´ê), em xwe ji bo ewlekariya mirovahiyê berpirsiyar dibînin. Pêdiviya me bi alîkariya wan welatan heye ku me ew parastin.”
Ka ev alîkarî wê alîkariyeke çawa be jî, ji van gotinên Îlham Ehmed diyar bû: “Pêdiviya me bi alîkariya ji bo projeya me ya siyasî heye. Divê em di çareseriyeke siyasî de hebin. Destûrnedana beşdarbûna me di pêvajoya Cenevreyê de zexmkirina krîzê ye, zexmkirina şer e.”
Tenê QSD dikare bi DAIŞ´ê
Nicholas A. Heras di panelê de got, “Ya ku li vir em behsa wê dikin tevgerek e ku hewl dide gelêrî be û bersivê bide daxwazên gel. Li ber çavê me, ha vê kêliyê ya ku em dibînin, bi gewdebûna îdeala sivaka demokratîk e.” Li gorî wî, ji bilî QSD´ê jî ti hêza din wê nikaribe li dijî DAIŞ´ê herêmê biparêze: “Ti hêzeke din a cihî û bikêrhatî (ji bilî QSD´ê) nîne ku karibe ji nû ve derketina holê ya DAIŞ´ê asteng bike.”
Amy Austin Holmes jî îşaret bi girîngiya têkbirina daîmî ya DAIŞ´ê kir û got, “Rêya herî muhim a misogerkirina şikandina daîmî ya DAIŞ´ê ew e ku bê misogerkirin ku îdeolojiya tundraw a Îslamî bê têkbirin.”
On January 13, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed, in an ambiguous tweet, the creation of a 20-mile safe zone in northern Syria.
Almost 10 days later there is still considerable confusion over what exactly it means and how it might be implemented. The Turkish government wants the area cleared of Syrian Kurdish forces, for instance, while Syrian Kurds oppose any Turkish role. And will it be primarily a Turkish venture, or might the United States spearhead its creation?
Ankara’s preferred safe zone is one that is free of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Syrian Kurdish fighters that make up the bulk of the multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that with U.S. help have largely defeated Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. The Turkish government says the YPG is as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey since 1984.
“The leaks about the buffer zone are unworkable,” Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East programme at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Ahval News. “This is going to be fraught and tenuous.”
“I have a hard time accepting why the SDF would choose the U.S. proposal over the [Syrian] regime alternative, and how Moscow could then blow all this up,” he said, referring to talks the Syrian Kurds began with Damascus following Trump’s Dec. 19 announcement he was pulling the U.S.’ 2,000 troops from Syria. The Kurds hope that by ceding their border regions with Turkey to Damascus they can prevent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threatened offensive.
Syrian Kurdish authorities have affirmed they will support the creation of a buffer zone if established and run by the United Nations or the U.S.-led coalition. But UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the UN had no plans to participate in the creation of such a safe zone.
The Kurds adamantly oppose any Turkish involvement in the safe zone.
“We really need a safe zone, but without Turkish fingers,” Salih Muslim, former co-leader of the political wing of the YPG, told Kurdistan 24. “We want a safe area with an air embargo. There must be no role for Turkey.”
Any safe zone that is 20-miles deep along the northern Syrian border would include all the major Kurdish cities in Syria.
“The problem with the buffer zone is that there is little information on how the U.S. expects to keep Turkey from attacking and destroying the SDF,” said Nicholas Heras, Middle East Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “This is the heart of the matter because Turkey’s vision for the buffer zone is for the Turkish military to control the major Kurdish population centres in northeast Syria.”
“A large component of the SDF comes from these Kurdish areas, and it is to be expected that the SDF would fight Turkey, rather than be dismantled by it,” he said. “The buffer zone concept was supposed to achieve a deal between Turkey and the SDF that allows for power sharing in northeast Syria, as a way to prevent disastrous conflict between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds. Any plan to allow Turkey to control the Kurdish areas of northeast Syria will force the SDF into conflict with Turkey because the SDF is existentially threatened by Turkey.”
Heras said the SDF was trying to reach an agreement with Russia and Syrian President Bashar Assad to prevent Turkey seizing land in Syria.
Yaşar Yakış, a Turkish former foreign minister, believes the terms buffer/safe zone are vague.
“A safe zone as it is conceived by Turkey is difficult to set up in northeast Syria. Russia, Iran, the U.S. and many members of the international community will have to be persuaded for it,” Yakış said.
He said Turkey had no means of persuading the SDF to peacefully leave the area.
“However, it may dare to achieve it by using its military power, without persuasion,” Yakış suggested. “If Turkey succeeds in persuading the U.S., Washington has the means to force the YPG to establish a safe zone. But if this is going to be a safe zone with international legitimacy, it has to be sanctioned by a U.N. Security Council resolution, which means that the permanent members of the Security Council – Russia, China, France and the UK – also have to be persuaded.”
Turkey fears the creation of a safe zone similar to the one in northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, which led to Iraqi Kurds achieving autonomy, he said.
“This will be considered a nightmare by Turkey, as it is vehemently opposed to the emergence of any type of Kurdish entity in the north of Syria,” Yakış said.
Mutlu Civiroglu, a Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst, said Trump’s tweet suggested a preference for protecting Syrian Kurds before mentioning the 20-mile safe zone.
“It’s not clear what it really means,” he said. “Assuming the buffer zone is something the U.S. is going to initiate to protect Kurds, that would be positive and would be accepted by Kurds and their allies.”
Russia could stymie the creation of such a zone though, Civiroglu said.
“Moscow can certainly undermine not only this safe zone, but also any development in Syria since it has the power,” he said. “Its move will depend on the details. Russia has the power and capability of preventing or shaping the steps taken by Turkey, the Syrian government and any other player.”
Mustafa Gurbuz, a non-resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said the United States had engaged in dual discourse by promising Turkey a safe zone along its southern border on the one hand and promising Syrian Kurds protection from any potential Turkish attack on the other.
“YPG leaders will not retreat in a silent matter,” he said. “The YPG will exploit U.S.-Russia competition to prevent the Turkish safe zone and, in the case of Turkey-Russia agreement, may use its ties with the Assad regime. Thus, it’s a troubling case for Turkey.”
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Salih Muslim, the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), denied claims made by US President Donald Trump that Syrian Kurds have sold oil to Iran.
During a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Trump said he was not happy that the Kurds are selling oil to Iran.
“I didn’t like the fact that [the Kurds] are selling the small oil that they have to Iran, and we asked them not to do it,” the US president stated.
It was not entirely clear whether Trump was referring to the Syrian Kurds or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq.
Speaking to Kurdish journalist Mutlu Civiroglu, Muslim rejected the American leader’s claims and said there is only local use of oil by Kurds in Syria.
“I asked our people here in the administration, in the YPG [People’s Protection Units], and the others, and they said there are no sales of oil to any side outside of Syria,” the former PYD head said.
The Syrian Kurds have no borders with Iran to sell oil to them, Muslim added, “there is no way, everybody should know the reality.”
Muslim suggested Trump was referring to “other Kurds” because “Syrian Kurds have no relations with Iran.”
“We have no deal, nor sales of oil [with] them, not at all,” he said. “Maybe others are doing so, but that’s not our business.”
According to Çeleng Omer, a former university lecturer from Afrin with expertise on oil, while Iran produces four million barrels per day (bpd), Syria’s production before the war was 400,000 bpd, which equals 10 percent of Iranian oil production.
According to Omer, oil production in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) areas in northeastern Syria is only 50,000 barrels. He said this quantity is “consumed locally by refining it in primitive refineries,” adding that Trump may have “confused the Kurds in Syria, with those in Iraq.”
“There is no border between the Syrian Kurdish region with Iran, and the oil produced in their areas is not enough to satisfy local needs, and the war destroyed a large part of the oil fields” which need to be restored before being exported, Omer explained.
“The oil produced in SDF areas meets the needs of fuel in the domestic market only.”
Nicholas A. Heras, a Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), said: “Trump’s statement could mean a couple of things.”
“One, he declassified hitherto classified info about the extent of YPG-Iranian relations in Syria. Or two, he mixed up talking points in his head from an earlier conversation with Turkey about Kurds in Iraq and Syria.”
Meanwhile, Alan Mohtadi, head of T&S Consulting Energy and Security, told Kurdistan 24 he is certain President Trump confused the Syrian Kurds with Kurds in Iraq.
Mohtadi explained that Syrian Kurdistan produces between 30-40,000 bpd, adding that almost all of the oil is used for local consumption.
“They would need to produce three to four times more, get a decent transport route (the border with the Kurdistan Region is tightly controlled), and transport it via trucks to Iran,” he said.
“This is not profitable and logistically almost impossible.”
The KRG announced in November that oil exports to Iran stopped after a new round of US sanctions were enforced.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany