Germany opened the 55-th Munich security conference where a major topic will be the Syrian settlement after the defeat of the Islamic state group and U.S. military withdrawal from the North of the country. On the eve of Sochi meeting of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the framework of “Astana.” Orientalist Kirill Semenov in interview to the RFI talks about the risks of the emergence of new hotbeds of Islamist terrorism in the middle East and how it can change the balance of power in Syria after the departure of the Americans.
RFI: in Sochi Yesterday was another meeting of the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran. Her party in particular called on the UN to help rebuild Syria. What do you see as the main outcome of the summit in Sochi?
Kirill Semenov: the Main result is that in the near future operation in Idlib will not again. (Dmitry) Peskov about it said. Although decided to deal with are there groups, he noted, the military operation is not planned. At least announced that in the near future large-scale military operation should be expected. Other issues that were discussed, remained, so to speak, behind the scenes. Here we can only guess. It is a question of creating a buffer zone by Turkey in Northern Syria, the question of the constitutional Committee.
The final victory over the group “Islamic state” call was very close. What is left now from ISIS in Syria? What happens in its last stronghold in the East?
That eliminate the Kurds have Chagina, — not the last. There is still quite a large territory that they (ISIS) control on the right Bank of the Euphrates — on the territory controlled by forces of the Assad regime, in the desert they have quite an extensive territory, near the Euphrates. There IG another enclave is maintained.
Note that the IG is a terrorist cell that may act in secret. They are, for example, in Idlib. They act against are there opposition groups. They exist in Iraq. “Islamic state” in the region could manifest itself further.
What are the risks that in this region there will be new pockets of IG groups? Or she will be reborn? Or switch to guerrilla warfare?
What exactly is “Islamic state” to be reborn is hardly possible. She lost all that distinguished it from other groups. She owned territories owned almost millions of cities like Mosul and raqqa, is able to declare itself as some quasi-state, in contrast to the same “al-Qaeda”. Now, when the IG lost it all, it has no advantages over other radical terror groups operating in approximately the same direction.
One can hardly expect a revival is “Islamic state”. But speaking generally about Sunni resistance, it may be manifested in other forms. It is possible and in Iraq, where it is possible to expect on the background of the fight against “Islamic state” new repression against the Sunni population under the pretext of their links with ISIS. Same thing in Syria after the establishment of control by the Assad over all territories. The centers already have, for example, in the province of Deraa in southern Syria. There are clandestine groups. This is a problem even for a very long time. There will be an underground act (not necessarily terrorist) groups. Some resistance will be there.
Soon the us military to leave the North of Syria — territory controlled by the Kurds. In your opinion, how will it change the balance of power? Who mill the main “beneficiary” of the vacuum that might be created? What is the fate of the Kurds, in your opinion?
So far, the Americans are leaving very slowly. It is quite difficult to predict when they will go away completely. It was said that in April, although this was other time. Now they can be again transferred. Of course, much will depend on how they go and to whom to transfer (site in Northern Syria). It is a question of creating a buffer zone in Northern Syria. Who will control it? We are talking about a third force.
It can be “Rozhava Peshmerga” — the Kurdish factions, who are now in Iraqi Kurdistan, but which have origin from Syria and who have an uneasy relationship with the (based Syrian Kurds RFI) party “Democratic Union”, which it ruled. They can control the buffer zone. Either the forces (opposition figure — RFI) Ahmad Jarba, who heads the party “Syria tomorrow”. He also has a certain weight, it has its own (military) forces. He can also send troops to this buffer zone.
But the negotiation process is complicated. To say what will become of the Kurds is difficult. It is not excluded that a large part of the Syrian democratic forces sooner or later will be introduced in the composition of the forces of the Assad regime. But it can only be on the condition that Assad himself will agree, if not to give the Kurds autonomy, then at least to preserve the structure of their party, the Democratic Union, preserving its leaders as executives in the field. But so far Assad is not ready.
So it’s complicated. Who will be the beneficiary (leaving the us military) to speak while early. But it is clear that we cannot say that this situation opens before Russia some advantage. Rather, for Russia it was easier when there were Americans. Everything was more stable and did not require making any difficult decisions that may face the same Russia and Turkey fully to break them up.
The departure of the Americans, Russia holds the most responsibility?
Probably not even a great responsibility and great risks — in relationships with the same Turkey. Russia would feel better if the Americans stayed there.
What offers Russia itself to solve the Kurdish problem in the North of Syria?
She suggested that the Kurds have autonomy. It is stated in the draft Constitution, which was prepared by Russian specialists at the end of 2016. But Assad flatly rejects any talk of autonomy or federalization of Syria.
It is also the ground for the conflict between Moscow and Damascus?
Of course. The issue carries a problematic aspect of the relations of Moscow and Damascus.