A Russian lawmaker says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad views the federalization of Syria as destructive for the Arab country.
During a Tuesday meeting with Russian parliamentarians in Damascus, the Syrian president said the Syrian people share the same idea about dividing the country into federal states, Russia’s State Duma lawmaker Alexander Yushchenko told reporters following the meeting with Assad.
Assad also warned that turning Syria into small regions run by extremist groups would put the world at risk, the lawmaker said.
“Today, the fighting goes on for Syria’s future at the talks in Geneva, Bashar al-Assad told us at the meeting, adding that, in his view, federalization will ruin Syria,” Yushchenko added.
According to the Russian lawmaker, during the meeting, Assad also positively assessed the potential of the Syria peace settlement within the framework of the Geneva dialogue.
On March 17, Syrian Kurdish groups, along with their Arab and Assyrian Christian allies, declared a federal region in the country’s Kurdish-dominated north. The move was also denounced by the Damascus government, as well as the Saudi-backed Syrian opposition groups, also known as the High Negotiations Committee, which took part in the latest round of UN-brokered peace negotiations in Geneva.
The Arab League on March 21 rejected the “separatist” Kurdish push for a federal government system in Syria, citing the risks it poses to the territorial integrity of the conflict-ridden country.
The US has also made it clear that it will not recognize any autonomous region set up by the Kurds and their allies under the federation, asserting that Syria’s future government will be negotiated in the UN talks.
This as indirect talks between delegations of the Syrian government and the foreign-backed opposition will resume in the Swiss city on April 13. The last round of the UN-backed peace talks came to a halt on March 24 over a series of disagreements.
Assad seeks formation of a system of political parties
According to another senior Russian official, the Syrian president on Tuesday also stressed the need for a system of political parties that would smooth disputes away, adding that a parliamentary republic will not work in Syria.
“At our talks Bashar al-Assad underlined the importance of establishing a system of political parties in the country, because, in his view, this is a party system which will allow for the ironing out of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional disagreements,” Dmitry Sablin, with the Federation Council of Russia, told reporters.
Sablin said Assad “has backed an idea of lawmakers from the Syrian People’s Council involvement as observers on the Collective Security Treaty Organization [CSTO] floors.”
The CSTO is a regional security group comprising six post-Soviet Union countries of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Tajikistan.
In mid-February, Nikolay Bordyuzha, the secretary general of the CSTO, warned that plans by Turkey and Saudi Arabia to deploy ground troops into Syria could escalate tensions in the conflict-ridden Arab country and result in direct military clashes between countries in the Middle East.