Assad to play ‘Kurdish card against Turkey, report says

Assad to play ‘Kurdish card against Turkey, report says

PARIS - Hürriyet
Assad to play ‘Kurdish card against Turkey, report says

A photo released by Syria’s official news agency shows Assad (2nd L) receiving greetings from local notables. AFP photo

Syria is looking to destabilize Turkey by providing greater autonomy to the Arab republic’s Kurdish population in the wake of Ankara’s demands that Damascus heed the demands of the country’s opposition, French daily Le Figaro has reported.

The Bashar al-Assad government has begun to support the Kurdish people living in Syria’s north, which is reportedly home to 1.9 million Kurds, in an attempt to pose a threat to Turkey in its fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), daily Hürriyet quoted the daily as saying yesterday.

Assad has taken advantage of the current crisis in the country to establish a “Kurdish autonomous region” in Syria in the event that he falls from power in a similar fashion to Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

The president has been preparing the ground for a Kurdish autonomous regional administration by opening Kurdish schools in the country’s north, reported Le Figaro, adding that the language of instruction was Kurdish and that the Kurdish anthem was sung every day.

The daily also claimed that Assad permitted Kurdish politician Muhammad Salih Muslim, the head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is seen as a PKK affiliate, to return to Syria as a message to Turkey. Muslim was in exile in Iraq until the protests against Assad began in Syria earlier this year.

The PYD is reportedly organizing local elections in the north, the daily said.

The newspaper said accepting the Kurdish politician into Syria must be seen as an action to “punish [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan for harshly objecting to Syria’s crackdown on its dissidents.”

“It is no coincidence that Muslim has been elected as the deputy head of the Democratic Change Committee Coordination, which was founded by the Syrian regime, shortly after returning from exile,” said the daily. “The PYD is staying away from the Syrian National Council [SNC] which was founded in Istanbul because it believes that the SNC is backed by Western powers and is against the PKK.”

The assassination of Mashaal Tammo on Oct. 7, a Kurdish opposition leader in Syria, was also a message to Syrian Kurds that a “good Kurd” was one supported by the regime, according to Le Figaro.