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Moscow’s Phantoms of the Soviet Era — old friends, old state relationships, Kurdish political incoherence at the leadership level, and confusion over the idea of liberalism has produced a deadly and medieval quagmire in Northern Syria and opened the gate to thoroughly retrograde politics — thank the Turkish “sultan” Erdogan the (most-un-NATO-like) Egoist. In effect, America’s — and the west’s — chief allies in the fight against Islamic State in Syria have been betrayed to the extent that the west now looks on at their deprivation.

If integrity is to be an international standard, it is important to grasp how artificial and brutal an enterprise has been Bashar al-Assad’s civil war and “war on terrorism”. As BackChannels has commented on Assad’s nurturing of al-Qaeda types early in the Syrian Tragedy, it will list here just a sampling of posts asserting that the state’s theater of war has been developed and managed for totalitarian effects — “Syria – Assad – ISIL – Background (December 9, 2016). The “Kurdistan” and “Syria” categories of this blog contain other listings, of course, and here for convenience are a few quickly chosen URLs to posts that may be helpful to Kurdish political analysts asking the eternal political question: “Where from here”?

https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/01/02/moscow-as-medusa-with-all-the-snakes-attached/ |https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/10/23/a-precarious-kurdistan/ | https://conflict-backchannels.com/2019/10/22/the-devolution-will-be-televised-kurdistan-end-of-ceasefire/ |

Yesterday, ASHARQ published “Syria Kurds Urge Moscow to Return Damascus to Constitutional Committee” (January 1, 2020) with naivete perhaps regarding Russia’s own deeply paternal authoritarian political habits and long-term rejection, so far, of constitutional power. In the days of the Tsar, the peasants found suggested arrangements for “constitutional monarchy” suspect 🙂 , never mind the monarch; the Bolsheviks appear to have produced power for the leadership (incidentally, Stalin himself had a turn in the Tsar’s secret political police, the Okhrana) and death and imprisonment for Russians, among others, by the millions; and, finally, KGB Colonel Putin has come to rule Russia with again despotic controls and with “liberalism” virtually removed from the discourse of the powerful who appear to prefer plunder (ask Khodorkovsky) to responsible political stewardship.

Suggestion for those now arguing about the character of a Syrian Constitution for which the troika of Assad, Putin, and Khamenei have no need as well as the character of a proposed Kurdish agreement between communities: err toward the compassion, complexity, and integrating liberal humanism owned by the rapidly evolving and modernizing west — take cues from the west’s most advanced (and happiest) states, not the ones sinking backward into feudal and nationalist fascism.

Start, perhaps, with Finland, so that what is to end does so where it began.

Related Online

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT. “Syria Kurds Urge Moscow to Return Damascus to Constitutional Committee.” January 1, 2020.

Cuthbert, Olivia. “New Syrian Refugees in Iraq Struggle to Access Education.” Al-Fanar Media, January 1, 2020.

Dawisha, Karen. Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. Stated on the Amazon page:

The raging question in the world today is who is the real Vladimir Putin and what are his intentions. Karen Dawisha’s brilliant Putin’s Kleptocracy provides an answer, describing how Putin got to power, the cabal he brought with him, the billions they have looted, and his plan to restore the Greater Russia.

Russian scholar Dawisha describes and exposes the origins of Putin’s kleptocratic regime. She presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000. She documents the establishment of Bank Rossiya, now sanctioned by the US; the rise of the Ozero cooperative, founded by Putin and others who are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes; the links between Putin, Petromed, and “Putin’s Palace” near Sochi; and the role of security officials from Putin’s KGB days in Leningrad and Dresden, many of whom have maintained their contacts with Russian organized crime.

Kurdish leaders should take note of Russia’s early and Imperial history and the character of the state under Putin’s sway, and they should ask whether the same is today authentically interested in their health and well being.

BackChannels knows the historic response: “No friends but the mountains.”

This blog’s editor hopes that the time-honored expression of abandonment and isolation is either no longer true today or that it becomes untrue as EU/NATO and perhaps others take interest themselves in Kurdish aspirations, bravery, hopes, and ideals for a greater and more just and more autonomous state.

Mohamad, Sinam. “Once We Beat ISIS, Don’t Abandon Us.” The New York Times, May 11, 2017.

Pipes, Richard.  Russia Under the Old Regime: The History of Civilization.  New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.

Pipes, Richard.  The Russian Revolution.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.

Polymeropoulos, Marc. “The Inevitable Day of Reckoning in Syria.” Just Security, December 23, 2019.

Wikipedia. “Pyotr Stolypin”.

Wikipedia. “Russian Constitution of 1906”.