Kurds Reject Syrian Call to Merge SDF With Army to Resist Turkey

SDF statement says unity can only come after political settlement

Syria’s Defense Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday calling on the Kurdish SDF to unite with the Syrian Army as part of a full restructuring, saying that Syrians, Arab and Kurd alike, should unite to resist the “one enemy” that is Turkey.

This is a rare situation in the long and very complicated Syrian Civil War, as beyond the government and the autonomy-seeking Kurds, what is left is almost entirely Turkey and Turkish-backed Islamists.

The Kurdish SDF issued a statement quickly rejecting the idea of a merger, however, saying that they believe a unity of forces can only come after a political settlement on the status of Kurdish territory.

In essence, the Kurds are using the SDF as leverage to try to get a guarantee for their long-sought autonomy. The danger is that the Kurds are in a precarious position, with the Turkish invasion focused heavily on them. At the same time, the US-armed SDF is the last bargaining chip the Kurds really have to get that autonomy deal.

The US and Turkey have both expressed opposition to the SDF ever becoming part of the Syrian military, and both have objected to Kurdish autonomy as well. Indeed, Turkey’s whole reason for scrapping historic ties to Assad and backing the rebels was the notion that Arab-dominated rebel groups would more tightly crack down on the Kurds in general.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.