Kurdish conference in Moscow: Russia pushing ahead with Kurds while Trump dwells on Syria plan

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with PYD representatives in Moscow, Russia January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RTSXL2Z

A conference will be held in Moscow on 15 February with the participation of Kurds from Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

Although an official title for the meeting has not been announced, Kurdish media outlets have been referring to it as a ‘Kurdish national conference’ with invitations sent to political parties from the Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian parts of Kurdistan.

Last month Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with representatives from the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) after Turkey had blocked their attendance to the Astana talks for a solution to the Syria conflict. Lavrov briefed the PYD on what was discussed in Astana.

With Donald Trump yet to outline his approach to the conflict in Syria as he awaits the Pentagon to draw up a new plan of action, Russia has made headway with the Kurds, who according to some have previously preferred more US direction in the region.

Last month a leaked draft constitution drawn up by Russia which envisaged autonomy for the Kurds in the north of Syria showed that Syrian Kurdish aspirations could overlap with Russia’s long-term visions for the country.

With Russia now openly recognising the PYD as both a political and legitimate force – which has not been the case all the time – a political solution that the Kurds can get on board with seems more likely.

Interestingly, Turkish objections to political alliances being forged with Syria’s Kurds has had more of a debilitating impact on the USA than it has the Russians. With the USA more susceptive to Ankara’s Kurdish concerns Russia has proven to be less impressionable.

Tomorrow’s ‘Kurdish national conference’ in Moscow is the most recent of a growing number of examples of Russian backing for Kurdish political establishment.

While Kurdish leaders have regularly emphasised that they are not backing or being backed by any foreign country in the Syrian conflict, many Kurds will believe that they are due institutional support and recognition by the major powers invested in the region.