If Turkish forces were to withdraw from Syria, finding a solution to the conflict in the country would be no problem, said Saleh Muslim, the leader of the main Kurdish political party in Kurdish-led northern Syria in a recent interview with Al-Monitor’s Amberin Zaman, voicing concerns about the potential repercussions of a possible victory for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the approaching second round of the country’s presidential election.
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) leader Muslim told Zaman that Erdoğan’s continued rule would not only be detrimental to the Kurdish people but would also pose a significant threat to regional stability and have wide-ranging consequences for the Middle East.
Muslim highlighted the extensive losses Turkey has incurred, both economically and diplomatically, due to Erdoğan’s policies, arguing that the country had “lost everything.” He pointed out that Erdoğan’s relentless focus on combating the Kurdish people, either directly or through its mercenaries, has taken a toll on Turkey’s social fabric and its standing on the international stage.
A disaster for everybody
The Kurdish leader emphasised that the ongoing conflict between Kurdish forces and Turkish troops has resulted in harm not only to the Kurdish population but also to the Turkish people and the broader regional community. Muslim asserted that Erdoğan’s adherence to a mindset reminiscent of the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS) endangers not just Turkey but also European countries.
“Don’t forget that Turkish troops are in Azerbaijan, they are in Libya, they are in Somalia, they are everywhere, spread around,” said Muslim. “So I think it’s a disaster for everybody, I think it’s not only for the Kurdish people or Rojava alone.”
He said that a potential resolution to the Syrian conflict lies in the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the region. He further argued that Islamist rebel groups, remnants of ISIS, al-Nusra, and al-Qaeda, cannot sustain themselves without the support of Turkey, which provides them with resources and weaponry and uses them to target Kurdish areas and carry out demographic changes.
Arab engagement with Bashar al-Assad may help secure a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict
Muslim proposed that Arab countries engage with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to achieve peace in Syria and exert pressure on Turkey to withdraw its troops. He expressed his support for increased Arab relations with Assad’s regime, provided certain conditions are met. These conditions include safeguarding the rights of ethnic and religious minorities within Syria.
“We are not bothered by the Arab relations with the regime at all,” Muslim emphasised, highlighting their long-standing efforts to involve the Arab League in the Syrian conflict. After 12 years of devastating conflict and destruction, Muslim believes that conditions should be set for the regime to respect the Syrian people, thus paving the way to a potential resolution.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took his seat alongside fellow Arab leaders in the coastal city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Friday after more than 13 years of isolation over his brutal suppression of the 2011 uprising which descended into civil war.