Russian Muslims slam Turkey's historical double standards
Konstantin Truevstev and other members of the institute talking to the media. - Wam
US troops had been deployed in the Kurdish-held towns of Kobani and Manbij since they were cleared of Daesh militants in 2015.
Islamic scholars in Russia have slammed Turkey's historical double standards and US President Donald Trump's irrational troop pullout from north-east Syria that has led to the exodus of over 100,000 people.
US troops had been deployed in the Kurdish-held towns of Kobani and Manbij since they were cleared of Daesh militants in 2015. However, last week Trump made the surprise announcement that he was pulling the military out of Kurdish Syria, leaving a key US ally in the fight against Daesh vulnerable to the Turkish army.
Konstantin Truevstev, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences and a specialist on Syrian, Iraqi and Yemen affairs, said that with the American presidential elections not very far away, Trump wouldn't care a damn about Kurds or anyone else in the Middle East. "Trump told the Americans he will withdraw troops because he believes Washington spends lots of money on account of his predecessor Barack Obama's wrong decisions," he said.
Truevstev wrenched a page from history to expose the double standards Turkey plays in geopolitics. "Russia believes there was a genocide of Armenians in 1915 but Turkey is very annoyed by such a stand. The same is the case about Syria. The Turks consider Syrian Kurds as terrorists. No one in the world, except Turkey, considers the Syrian Kurds as terrorists. Some things in politics are simple, others are very complicated," he said.
Dissecting the complexity of the Syrian tangle, Truevstev said Russia and Iran are allies in Syria whereas Russia and Turkey or Iran and Turkey are partners but not allies. "Russia wants to develop its relations with Turkey as we have mutual interest in that. But at the same time we know that Turkey does not agree with the Russian annexation of Crimea. They consider Crimea as part of Turkey and not a part of Ukraine. The Russia-Turkey relations are marked by such unbelievable contradictions."
He explained that the latest Turkish incursion has created a complicated situation. "We tried many times to avoid a direct clash between Turkey and Syria. Now the situation is very dangerous because Iran is very anxious and very annoyed by Turkish actions," Truevstev said, predicting the various scenarios that might unfold.
"If Damascus and Kurds reach an agreement, that will be one scenario. If they don't, that will be another. If Turkey stops after a small operation, that's yet another scenario. If Ankara continues a full-fledged war along its borders, that will be a complicated scenario because majority of the Kurdistan Workers' Party forces is based in Iraq and they may strike Turkey. So we don't know what would happen tomorrow."
"The efforts of Russia is to somehow stop the war. Russia tried many times to convince the Kurds and Damascus to come to an agreement. I personally was involved when I went to Sulaimania in the Kurdistan region," Truevstev said.
Asked by Khaleej Times if Syria is a half-finished job for Moscow after eight years of war, he said some Russian officials also believe so. "What might happen is that the Kurds would be obliged to withdraw from their bases and the Syrian army and its allies would fill the vacuum. The Russians have built a new humanitarian bridge over the Euphrates two days before the Turkish invasion. Number two, Syria desires to complete its operations in the last rebel enclave in Idlib, which will be a big headache for Turkey." If the Syrian regime forces overrun Idlib, the enclave's estimated three million inhabitants would flood the nearby Turkish border.
Talking about the genesis of the Syrian war, Truevstev blamed it on the initial haste to give a sectarian colour to some societal discontent during the Arab Spring.
"When the Arab Spring started in Syria, you could see a very big difference between what had happened in Syria and in other countries. There was a significant part of society that supported the Assad regime. One half, including young and educated people, supported President Assad. The Islamist then came into the picture to help the opposition. One of the slogans was power to the majority. Under the slogan came more and more radical factions and terrorists like Al Nusra Front and Daesh."
Truevstev, whose institute advises the Russian government on Middle Eastern issues, said Moscow prefers to let the Yemenis decide their own destiny.
"Because of their civilisational differences, the southern people want to separate. So the question is would Russia support the separation of Yemen. The Russian stand is quite clear: Let the Yemenis themselves decide. But at the same time Russia is trying to get all the parties involved to reach a conclusion. A war is futile because the Yemenis are a people who have been permanently at war and hard to defeat."