Kurds’ commander in chief explains alliances with Assad and Putin

“If We Have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People”, The Kurds’ commander in chief said

In an exclusive interview, the Kurds’ commander in chief explained why his forces are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin. He specifically expressed his peoples’ belief in democracy, the losses they have suffered, but he also expressed his feelings on USA’s betrayal towards the Kurdish people. 

The world first heard of us, he said, as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), amid the chaos of our country’s civil war. I serve as our commander in chief. The SDF has 70,000 soldiers who have fought against jihadi extremism, ethnic hatred, and the oppression of women since 2015. They have become a very disciplined, professional fighting force. They never fired a single bullet toward Turkey. U.S. soldiers and officers now know us well and always praise our effectiveness and skill.

“I have always told our forces, this war is ours! The jihadi terrorists of the Islamic State came to Syria from all over the world. We are the ones who should fight them, because they have occupied our lands, looted our villages, killed our children, and enslaved our women”, he supported.

The Kurdish commander in chief continued saying that: 

“We lost 11,000 soldiers, some of our best fighters and commanders, to rescue our people from this grave danger. I have also always instructed our forces that the Americans and other allied forces are our partners, and so we should always make sure that they are not harmed”.

“Amid the lawlessness of war, we always stuck with our ethics and discipline, unlike many other nonstate actors. We defeated al Qaeda, we eradicated the Islamic State, and, at the same time, we built a system of good governance based on small government, pluralism, and diversity. We provided services through local governing authorities for Arabs, Kurds, and Syriac Christians. We called on a pluralistic Syrian national identity that is inclusive for all. This is our vision for Syria’s political future: decentralized federalism, with religious freedom and respect for mutual differences”.

“The forces that I command are now dedicated to protecting one-third of Syria against an invasion by Turkey and its jihadi mercenaries. The area of Syria we defend has been a safe refuge for people who survived genocides and ethnic cleansings committed by Turkey against the Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Armenians during the last two centuries”.

“We guard more than 12,000 Islamic State terrorist prisoners and bear the burden of their radicalized wives and children. We also protect this part of Syria from Iranian militias”.

“When the whole world failed to support us, the United States extended its hands. We shook hands and appreciated its generous support. At Washington’s request, we agreed to withdraw our heavy weapons from the border area with Turkey, destroy our defensive fortifications, and pull back our most seasoned fighters. Turkey would never attack us so long as the U.S. government was true to its word with us”.

“We are now standing with our chests bare to face the Turkish knives”.

“President Donald Trump has been promising for a long time to withdraw U.S. troops. We understand and sympathize. Fathers want to see their children laughing on their laps, lovers want to hear the voices of their partners whispering to them, everyone wants to go back to their homes”.

However, he continued, “We are not asking for American soldiers to be in combat. We know that the United States is not the world police. But we do want the United States to acknowledge its important role in achieving a political solution for Syria. We are sure that Washington has sufficient leverage to mediate a sustainable peace between us and Turkey”.

“We believe in democracy as a core concept, but in light of the invasion by Turkey and the existential threat its attack poses for our people, we may have to reconsider our alliances. The Russians and the Syrian regime have made proposals that could save the lives of millions of people who live under our protection. We do not trust their promises. To be honest, it is hard to know whom to trust”.

“What’s clear is that the threat of the Islamic State is still present in a network of sleeper cells capable of mounting an insurgency. The large number of Islamic State prisoners in inadequate confinement are like a ticking time bomb that might explode at any time”.

“We know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them. But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people”.

“Syria has two options: a religious sectarian and ethnic bloody war if the United States leaves without reaching a political solution, or a safe and stable future—but only if the United States uses its power and leverage to reach an agreement before it withdraws”.

The Kurdish commander in chief vowed that, “The reason we allied ourselves with the United States is our core belief in democracy. We are disappointed and frustrated by the current crisis. Our people are under attack, and their safety is our paramount concern. Two questions remain: How can we best protect our people? And is the United States still our ally?”

Foreign Policy/MAZLOUM ABDI




After failing this week to agree on a joint plan to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, EU finance ministers will resume talks today in an effort to bridge their differences. Chief among them: the terms attached to credit lines from the euro-area bailout fund. With thousands dying and many more sickening each day, the bloc can scarcely afford another impasse, let alone one over just a few words. But domestic political pressures, as ever, loom large and could ultimately threaten Europe’s ability to successfully manage the virus fallout.

What’s Happening

Virus Update | In Spain, fatalities and cases rose to the highest in four days, dashing hopes of a sustained reduction from last week, while Italian new cases climbed to a three-day high, complicating government plans to start easing the lockdown. The EU said 11 cruise ships carrying a total of 8,000 passengers will arrive at ports in the region over the next few days, and recommended an extension travel restrictions until May 15.

How to Reopen? | European leaders are starting to plan for looser restrictions nationally and will be hoping their plans go more smoothly than their implementation. Italy is taking the lead, reviewing an approach that foresees the full return to normal life taking months. A draft EU document, meanwhile, said that any relaxation of confinement will trigger new cases. This is how the whole thing may end.

Apocalypse Now | As European officials slug it out via teleconference, the economy is hurtling toward a severe recession. France’s economy shrank the most since World War II in the first quarter and is set to contract by 6% this year. In Germany, March car sales plunged nearly 40% from a year earlier and leading research institutes predicted a contraction of almost 10% in the second quarter. The picture is not much better beyond Europe’s borders.

Banking Pleas | Banks in Europe are testing officials’ pledges for open-ended action to counter the economic impact of the virus with a new round of demands for regulatory relief. Financial firms are asking the ECB for permission to strip out some of the recent wild swings in stock and bond prices when calculating the risks their trading operations face, meaning they could set less aside for potential losses.

Spanish Crisis | Spain’s spiraling health crisis risks morphing into a political one for a Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is finding little support in the country of 47 million for the government’s strategy to tackle the virus. Here’s a picture of what it’s like in neighborhoods across the country.

In Case You Missed It

Tracking Apps | With the race on to come up with mobile phone apps to track people who’ve been exposed to the coronavirus, the EU is set to draw up an approach to help make data from individual countries more comparable — perhaps by even developing a single app across the bloc. What does it mean for your privacy?

Lagarde's Call | ECB President Christine Lagarde again urged European governments to step up and deliver a strong fiscal response to address the economic fallout from the virus. “Solidarity is in fact self-interest,” she wrote in a newspaper op-ed published across the region.

Takeover Shield | The German government agreed to tighten protections for companies from foreign takeovers, enabling the blocking of acquisitions that present “potential interference,” a lower threshold than before, which envisaged a security threat. It comes as the economy takes a battering, while the EU has also issued guidelines on enacting bloc-wide rules.

Polish Judges | Poland was ordered by the EU’s top court to “immediately suspend” its controversial disciplinary regime for judges as the bloc continues to face democratic challenges from Hungary to the Czech Republic. The Polish ruling Law & Justice party is attempting to discipline judges and pass legislation cracking down on magistrates who question the government’s actions.

Jumanji Cities | Across the world, animals are reclaiming the space vacated by humans as they shelter indoors. In Barcelona, wild boar, a familiar sight for citizens on the city’s outskirts, have made their way to Diagonal Avenue, a major thoroughfare, while cows maraud across Corsican beaches. Check out the amazing photos.

Editor’s Note: We will be taking a break for the long weekend. Your next Brussels Edition will be published on Tuesday.

Chart of the Day

The coronavirus pandemic could cause a deeper collapse of international trade flows than at any point in the postwar era, the World Trade Organization said. In its pessimistic scenario, the volume of global goods trade could drop by as much as 32% this year with the possibility of a 24% increase next year. In this situation, world GDP could shrink by as much as 8.8% in 2020 and expand by 5.9% in 2021.


Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 5 p.m. Video conference of EU finance ministers
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