The Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria is seeking support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to help negotiate a deal with the Syrian regime amidst concerns that the United States has lost interest in the region, and Arab nations are also reaching out to Damascus, reported Al-Monitor journalist Amberin Zaman on Wednesday.
According to Zaman, Mazlum Abdi, the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), recently travelled to the UAE to ask Abu Dhabi to support the Syrian Kurds’ case with the Assad regime.
Although the UAE denies that the meeting took place, officials who briefed Al-Monitor confirmed the trip. Badran Ciya Kurd, the de facto foreign minister of the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in northeast Syria, confirmed that the UAE had expressed interest in helping the Syrian Kurds reach an agreement with the Assad regime.
Zaman points to the possibility that Turkey’s recent drone strike on Abdi may have been retaliation for his shuttle to the UAE with Bafel Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two ruling parties in Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkey considers the SDF and Abdi, who previously held a leadership role in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), to be terrorists.
The Syrian Kurds have been an important ally of the US-led coalition in the fight against ISIS in Syria. However, since the defeat of ISIS, the US has shown less interest in supporting the Kurdish-led administration, leaving the Kurds vulnerable to Turkish aggression.
If the UAE can help broker a deal between the Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime, it could potentially offer the Kurds some protection against Turkey’s aggression, and ensure that they have a say in the future of Syria. It could also provide the Assad regime with a way to gain control over the territory held by the Kurds, without resorting to military force.
However, it remains to be seen whether the UAE will be successful in their efforts to broker a deal. The relationship between the UAE and Turkey has been strained in recent years, and Turkey has previously accused the UAE of supporting Kurdish militants. Any move by the UAE to support the Syrian Kurds could further strain relations between the two countries.