Tag Archives: Daesh

Peace in Afghanistan: Can US Recipe be cherished in Afghanistan ever?

Major General S B Asthana,SM,VSM

US-Taliban talks at Doha earlier this year

After several rounds of US Taliban Peace Talks in Doha, the reluctantly agreed upon ‘so-called intra-Afghan dialogue’ scheduled on April 19, 2019 was abruptly cancelled on April 18 amid seemingly insignificant disagreements about the size and composition of the Afghan delegation, which Taliban objected to.

US State Department conveyed their disappointment to President Ghani on April 21 and condemned the Taliban’s announcement of starting another offensive in the spring. It however was waiting to happen, as Taliban was in no mood to talk to present Afghan Government calling them a puppet Government of foreign powers. Afghanistan current regime is also not too happy with a sense of isolation in various rounds of US – Taliban Peace Talks without their participation, as Taliban continued terror attacks on them.

Taliban destroyed ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan

The Reality of Afghanistan
After 17 years of war Taliban seized more territory and controls at least 50% of the country. Taliban cannot be relied upon for any kind of peace settlement for the time being with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as their Chief negotiator, released from Pakistani jail last year, who has political ambitions, and has held various appointments in erstwhile Taliban Government prior to US invasion. They will eventually find reasons to rule the country, even if they promise to allow a peaceful democratic solution. The Government in power under President Ghani and CEO Abdullah do not give the confidence of being on the same page or being strong enough to face Taliban all by themselves. Taliban is unlikely to give up the ambition of ruling through Sharia laws, irrespective of the liberalised wordings they have been using during peace talks, because they have radicalised cadre, which needs to be satisfied by their leaders. The people may not be too happy as a large segment of population has got used to some liberties like women working at common place with men. Afghan military is not yet strong enough to take on Taliban in the entire country. It still needs lot of training, capability and military hardware. With continuous attacks by Taliban and splinter groups of Daesh getting into Afghanistan, peace is a distant dream.

Significance of US-Taliban Peace Talks
During US- Taliban Peace talks, there seemed to be some consensus regarding ‘Issues of Framework Agreement’. In principle US has agreed for phased withdrawal from Afghanistan after the final agreement. Timelines for withdrawal however have not been agreed as Taliban wants withdrawal in eighteen months and US is suggesting a period of five years linking it with implementation of agreement. Taliban have agreed to not to allow any terrorist group to operate from Afghan territory including getting rid of all foreign terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. This however is unrealistic and in my opinion, unlikely to happen. A comprehensive ceasefire to pave way for electoral process was commonly agreed to but is lacking implementation. The main issues still under discussion had been withdrawal of US and its allies’ troops from Afghanistan in a phased manner from Afghanistan along with implementation of other clauses of the final peace agreement.Taliban had declined talks with present Afghan Government, but later reluctantly agreed to Intra Afghanistan Talks with all stake holders including present Afghanistan Government to reach consensus among all, which have now been called off.

The US Taliban exclusive peace talks have isolated the present regime in power under President Ghani. It is clear that unless the present democratically elected Government is on board, no peaceful elections can take place, even after expiry of its term in September this year. The democratic peaceful elections are unlikely in near future unless intra Afghanistan talks take place. The ingress of pockets of Daesh in Afghanistan make situation even more complex. US want to withdraw as per their time table and President Trump wants to make such announcement before the next election. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan will definitely alter the strategic balance in favor of Taliban, Pakistan, China and Russia. It however poses a question mark that is US willing to concede this important strategic space in Af-Pak region to its competitors so easily, after 17 years of war, knowing that China and Pakistan are waiting to grab it? Is domestic pressure on President Trump is so heavy due to election promises made by him. In an interview to CNN he had indicated that Russia, China, India and Pakistan should replace US troops in Afghanistan and resolve this problem as a regional issue. In my opinion treating it is a regional issue may not be realistic, because with radicalisation of Pakistan, growing strength of Taliban, and some existence of al Qaeda, Haqqani network and Daesh, I see a large caliphate in making, with levers of power with radicalized organisations. If the entire globe had to put in synergised effort to deal with Taliban and Daesh earlier, it is going to be even more difficult when the new grouping of radicalised elements emerges again.

The Position of Other Stake Holders
There are conflicting interests of each of the stake holders. Pakistan nurtured Taliban and al Qaeda, hence would be happy if Taliban is in driving seat, but it will not compromise on Durand line because it wants strategic depth. Taliban also will not compromise on border issue with Pakistan, as they did not do so earlier. US is fed up of fighting there, but if it withdraws from this strategic space, it will be lost forever to China, which has plans to develop communication links with China Pakistan Economic Corridor there, exploit all natural resources of Afghanistan including developing cross communication links up to Iran and preferably use their port as well. Russia had entered Afghanistan earlier to deny the US influence there during cold war period. US helped Mujahedeen to counter Russia. Later Russia found the occupation unsustainable and withdrew unilaterally. I do not think that they will do the same mistake again. Russia however has been considering establishment of second military base in southern flank of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan bordering Afghanistan to fulfill its strategic interest. Russians also hosted Peace Talks on Afghanistan with all stake holders and invited India. I learnt was that some observers did attend it, but not as a formal participation by the Indian Government.

Sino- Pak Interest
China has been actively engaging with Taliban in the recent past and Pakistan harbored them even when Multi-national Forces were fighting with them earlier. I therefore see no reason why Pakistan will not be amenable to Afghanistan under Taliban Islamic rule. If Taliban guarantees China’s that it will not support ETIM operating in Xinjiang, and if Chinese feel that they can manage Taliban, they may also be amenable to Taliban Islamic rule. If China is comfortable with Islamic Republic of Pakistan, I see no reason why they will not accept Islamic rule under Taliban, so long it meets Chinese national interest. China and Pakistan will definitely see a Taliban government as a major strategic gain against USA and India. Taliban will have to be managed by China, financially or otherwise for stability of China´s New Silk road and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, because even Chinese will not trust a jihadist group for stability of its economic assets. Pakistan will expect Taliban as a facilitator of new strategic depth against India, but it cannot take them for granted because the last Taliban Regime did not compromise with Pakistan on border issue. Pakistan will celebrate if Indian investments in Afghanistan go waste, but any government in Afghanistan is likely to welcome Indian assistance.Taliban if brought to power will be interested in development of Afghanistan and the New Silk road, but I have my doubts that China and Pakistan will believe Taliban’s guarantee that it won´t be a safe haven for terrorists and jihadist and won´t interfere in internal affairs of China in Xinjian or question the Durand line, because both these countries are well familiar with ideology of Taliban. In my opinion Taliban may accept these conditions on paper to come to power, but will subsequently do what it suits them most.

President of Afghanistan Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the Heart of Asia Summit, (Dec 4, 2016-representative image)


Implications for India India is the largest regional donor to Afghanistan and fifth largest donor globally with over $3 billion in assistance. It has helped the country in infrastructure and capacity building of the nation and invested over $10 billion cumulative amount since 2002 in doing so. Construction of Salma Dam, Parliament building, various connectivity and power projects and supply of some military hardware are examples of the assistance provided by India. India is the largest export destination of Afghanistan and their exports stood at $ 740 million to India in 2018. The new route through Chahbahar has been activated bypassing Pakistan, to which US had granted exception from sanctions imposed on Iran, post withdrawal from JCPOA, for humanitarian assistance and rebuilding Afghanistan. Any new dispensation in Afghanistan involving Taliban if not friendly to India may jeopardize India’s investments in Afghanistan, but it will be at a huge loss to its people. Indian investment in Afghanistan including Chabahar port, connectivity projects to Afghanistan and onward to CAR republics would require the support of Afghanistan Government; therefore a friendly regime is desirable. Increased influence of Pakistan in Afghanistan is detrimental to Indian and US interest. US withdrawal will embolden Taliban and other terrorist groups and may influence the ongoing militancy in Jammu and Kashmir also. Turkmenistan- Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) project passes through Afghanistan and Pakistan, hence its success or otherwise is dependent on Indo-Pakand and Indo Afghanistan relations amongst many other factors. All four countries are stake holders in this project; hence any obstruction in the project is going to be a collective loss for all. India´s has worked with all Afghan governments so far; hence I visualise that India will continue to deal with the Government of the day, as hither to fore, even if there is any change.

Taliban may not want to speak to Afghan establishment/their representatives but the talks with US only have no meaning if Afghan Government is not part of it, as the electoral process cannot begin otherwise. Peace talks should not mean that Afghanistan be handed over to Taliban unanimously by all stakeholders, despite their continued offensive and power of militancy, which will be construed as a victory against super power and global community through terror. The gesture of Taliban talking about bringing a women representative for talks is good optics, but does not make them moderates or believers in democratic institutions or equality to women.The US on their part is not going to give up its efforts to create conditions for its smooth pull out from Afghanistan.Their special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, is already on new regional trip to Qatar for a new round of negotiations with the Taliban, aiming to find a political solution to the Afghan war despite the disappointment of cancellation of ‘Intra-Afghan dialogue’.


Maj Gen SB Asthana, SM, VSM

The author, MAJ GEN S B ASTHANA,SM,VSM is a veteran Infantry General with 40 years experience in international fields and UN. A globally acknowledged strategic & military writer/analyst; he is currently the Chief Instructor of USI of India, the oldest Indian Think-tank in India. Former Additional DG Infantry. Member Board/Governing Council CEE,IOED,IPC, other UN Organisations.

Iraq’s liberation from Daesh: Australia’s strike aircraft will begin returning home in January

Newsroom24x7 Network

Canberra: Australia’s six F/A-18F Super Hornets will return home in January marking the end of Australia’s successful air strike operations in Iraq and Syria.

Australian Minister for Defence, Marise Payne

Australia’s Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, said Australia had reviewed our contribution with our Iraqi and Coalition partners following the announcement of Iraq’s liberation from Daesh by Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi earlier this month.

“The battlefield success against Daesh means our own Operation OKRA has now reached a natural transition point and our strike aircraft will begin returning home early in the New Year,” Minister Payne said.

“Since October 2014, our Hornet pilots and support personnel have made a significant contribution in support of the Iraqi Security Forces and I commend all the ADF personnel who have contributed over this period for their dedication, skill and professionalism.”

“Australia’s Air Task Group has made a valued contribution to coalition operations against Daesh that is highly regarded by the US, Iraq and coalition partners.”

The strike aircraft deployed as part of the Air Task Group conducted more than 2,700 sorties against Daesh targets in both Iraq and eastern Syria.

Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail and KC-30A refuelling aircraft will continue to support counter-Daesh coalition operations. Australia will also continue its training mission, which involves around 300 personnel at Task Group Taji and around 80 personnel in a Special Operations Task Group.

“Australia is committed to supporting the Iraqi Security Forces as it clears the remaining pockets of Daesh fighters in rural areas and ensuring the long-term stability of Iraq,” Minister Payne said.

The Mosul campaign against ISIS will culminate soon

Newsroom24x7 Network

It is our mission to ensure that any foreign fighter that joins this organization in Iraq and Syria dies in Iraq and Syria. We are not just going to push them from one area to another.

-Brett McGurk

Special Envoy of the US President for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS

Brett McGurk

Baghdad: The Iraqi forces, backed by the US and the global coalition to counter ISIS, are in the final stages of the Mosul campaign.

“About 250 meters or so are now left in Mosul against a suicidal enemy that is barricaded with civilians in buildings.”

This is how Brett McGurk, Special Envoy of the US President for the Global Coalition to counter ISIS described in a nutshell how the ISIS fighters now holed up in Mosul at a press conference here on Saturday (8 July 2017).

McGurk said almost every ISIS fighter we are finding now has a suicide vest on. They are killing civilians to defend themselves. This has been ongoing for months. So even 250 meters will remain difficult, but this will culminate soon.

Here in Iraq, we are in the final phase of the Mosul campaign, so that’s the immediate focus. But this campaign against ISIS is global, McGurk pointed out. The objective is not just about defeating ISIS. It’s about defeating the ideology that ISIS represents, it’s about liberating the population, and it’s about working with local actors to return people to their homes after ISIS. Restoring these communities, reconstructing these communities, is something that will take many years, he observed.

Even after Mosul, McGurk said, the fight against Daesh will not be over. It is the mission of the Government of Iraq to restore all of its sovereign territory, and reclaim all of its sovereign territory from Daesh. We are committed to helping Iraq reclaim all of its sovereign space. So we will help the Iraqi Security Forces in future operations. There is Tal Afar, there is al-Qaim, there is Western Anbar, where ISIS still retains a presence, and there is Hawija. So the one thing I will guarantee — and I think our record now speaks to this — ISIS will lose. Any territory they are still holding they will lose.

Describing the hurdles being encountered in the Mosul campaign, McGurk said the fighters in Mosul — almost all of them in ISIS — are wearing suicide vests. There is a large concentration of foreign fighters: Chechens, Uighurs, others from all around the world that came to Iraq to terrorize the Iraqi people are now holed up in this last section of Mosul. They are using civilians as human shields.

Further, McGurk explained, what mainly fueled ISIS, particularly in Iraq, was the injection of foreign fighters. Almost 40,000 foreign fighters from all around the world came into Syria. Many of them came into Iraq. These are mostly the suicide bombers, the snipers, the very hardened kind of units that we see on the battlefield. Many of these are foreign fighters. We have largely stopped the flow of foreign fighters flowing into Syria, and Turkey has been quite instrumental in that. And we continue to work very closely with them.

The effective tactics against Daesh require intelligence, local knowledge, a very good military plan on the ground to root them out. You don’t fight this enemy with ballistic missiles, the prsidential envoy observed.

In McGurk’s words: “The Mosul campaign has been a political campaign, a military campaign, a humanitarian campaign, and a stabilization campaign. The military campaign, I think at this point, speaks for itself. This has been a year-long campaign. It really started when the Iraqi Security Forces recaptured the Qayyarah West Air Base south of Mosul. That was about a year ago, and that has proceeded almost precisely on the plan that the Iraqi commanders and Prime Minister Abadi laid out, and laid out for our generals. And we have been very proud to help them. Step by step, this has proceeded almost according to plan.”

The Iraqi military has put civilian protection at the top of its campaign plan. This is one of the most difficult urban battles—and I defer to my military experts, many of whom are combat-hardened veterans. One of the most difficult urban campaign battles we have seen since World War II, particularly in the western side of the city, in these last phases of the campaign. Many of my military colleagues were recounting last night they have never seen anything like it. The heroism of the Iraqi Security Forces, which are fighting to liberate people in Mosul, taking casualties to liberate their citizens, and continuing to advance, has been remarkable and heroic, and we are proud to work with them.

McGurk spoke about the global coalition, almost 73 members, scheduled to gather in Washington, D.C. this week, with a focus on continuing to support the Government of Iraq in this very difficult effort. He also disclosed that he held discussions with the Prime Minister on Tuesday night on “their Vision 2030” about economic reform, about critical reconstruction needs. The US is working under the Strategic Framework Agreement that it has with Iraq to support those efforts, he added.

In Syria, McGurk said, the campaign to liberate Raqqa is now underway. Syrian Democratic Forces have penetrated into the old City of Raqqa. Similar to Mosul, step by step, block by block, ISIS is being defeated and is now totally isolated and surrounded in Raqqa.

On engagement with Russia on Syria, McGurk said this is something that nearly all of the coalition partners in the region have encouraged. Hence that engagement will continue. The US has worked out de-confliction arrangements with the Russian Federation, which is helping to enable and speed up the overall campaign against ISIS, and that is going fairly well. After the very important meeting between President Trump and President Putin in Hamburg, an arrangement for a ceasefire in Southwest Syria has been concluded, together with close partner Jordan,. This is the first step in a process for a more durable arrangement in Southwest Syria.

Inside Syria, McGurk said, it is our mission to ensure that any foreign fighter, anyone that came around the world thinking they would be able to sit here in Iraq or in Syria and terrorize the Iraqi people or the Syrian people, or plan and plot attacks against the United States, against our partners, against concert-goers in Manchester, against people trying to take a train, against people eating ice cream here in Baghdad, if they thought they were going to come here and then be able to go back to their home and live a safe life, they are mistaken.

On referendum, McGurk said the US has made its opposition to holding this referendum on September 25th quite clear. We have called on the Kurdistan Regional Government to reconsider the decision. And we urge on the pursuit of dialogue with the Central Government on the basis of the Iraqi constitution. All eyes right now must remain fixed on the enemy of Daesh, which is not defeated.

 

 

 

 

 

Russia and the US working to launch a political process for peace in Syria

Newsroom24x7 Staff

Terrorist groups – Daesh and al-Qaida – continue to menace the Syrian people and the Syrian regime and opposition parties are on the brink of going back to a state of all-out war.‎ – US Secretary of State John Kerry

Aleppa bombingGeneva: Syrian warplanes targeted a funeral on Saturday morning in East Aleppo, killing many civilians who were mourning the deaths of at least a dozen people killed in barrel bombing earlier on Thursday. This was within hours after the US Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken to the international media about the Syrian crisis by pointing out that terrorist groups – Daesh and al-Qaida – continue to menace the Syrian people and the Syrian regime and opposition parties are on the brink of going back to a state of all-out war.‎
Kerry along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was addressing media-persons in Geneva on Friday, 26 August, 2016. Presenting the ground picture, he told journalists that Aleppo continues to be besieged and bombarded by the Assad regime and its allies, including Iran, Russia, and Hizballah. And the regime had that very day forced the surrender of Daraya after a brutal four years of the siege and continues to take territory in the Damascus suburbs. This, he said, ran counter to two iterations of a previously announced cessation of hostilities. To discuss this, Kerry said, he was in Geneva to meet his Russian counterpart.

All those who possess the special operation forces and other divisions of armed forces on the ground in Syria will have to realize that priorities need to be set, and choosing among those priorities I am confident no one will be able to turn a blind eye to the problem of terrorists, ISIL, and Jabhat al-Nusrah. – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Kery touched the emotional chord by drawing attention to the photograph of two young boys from Aleppo, one of whom died in the ambulance and how the entire world has been shaken by this image. It should motivate all of us to get the job done, to provide for a real ceasefire, and to meet the needs of the Syrian people, Kerry went on to observe.

The situation, Kerry stated, has dramatically deteriorated since the brief oasis of calm that followed the launch of the cessation of hostilities in February this year. Expressing satisfaction, Kerry said that Sergey Lavrov and he were able to work together with other colleagues in the international community through the International Syria Support Group and were able to cobble together the concept of the cessation of hostilities.

Kerry said: “Well into March of this year, Syrians had benefited from a degree of calm they had not experienced in years. For a period of time, the cessation of hostilities held. And the cessation – even flawed – became something of real value to them. For a brief moment, a brief instant, life changed in some communities. People sat in cafes. People went out and began to try to resume life again, but that was lost. And it was lost because of the lack of accountability and the inability to be able to deal with violations.

So as much as we have all seen a benefit to the humanitarian assistance that was delivered – some communities that hadn’t seen humanitarian assistance in years got it. More than a million people were able to be served with humanitarian assistance. And the cessation – even flawed – was valuable.”

Giving a narrative of what has been unfolding, Kerry said hat violations eventually became the norm rather than the exception. And the regime continually pressed its military objectives in key strategic locations, and continued indiscriminate aerial bombardment of densely populated areas with barrel bombs, and as the UN report points out, also chlorine.

Sergey Lavrov from Russia may dispute his narrative, Kerry said adding, he just laid out and attribute most of the regime actions to Nusrah. Obviously, there is illegitimate Nusrah activity and we are all opposed to that, said the US Secretary of State as he went on to assert that Nusrah has never been part of the cessation. The fact that people are going after Nusrah in some cases is true but in other cases it’s clearly, by virtue of the evidence of children and women and hospitals and other things, clearly not the case, observed Kerry.

Kerry informed media-persons that he and Sergey had reached anagreement in Moscow last month after discussions with Russian President Putin on a broad set of concrete steps to achieve a meaningful, lasting ceasefire. After that both sides – the US and Russia – have been engaged in a series of technical discussions primarily aimed at making cessation real, allowing for humanitarian assistance and getting the parties to the table for serious negotiations to end the war. Nevertheless, he went on point out that some narrow issues are still remaining that need to be resolved.

Kerry emphasised that the conflict in Syria will not end without a political solution. Once the narrow issues are resolveed, UN Special Envoy Staffen de Mistura will bring the parties to the table for a political transition.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov referred to Aleppo and said although we are focused mostly on Aleppo, we also touched upon the situation in Manbij, in Hasakah and many other parts of Syria. We also discussed the humanitarian situation in Iraq, in Yemen, where the international observers keep informing on the gravest humanitarian situation.

Lavrov said while discussing those gravest problems and sufferings of people we should adopt an approach not of journalists or people who express their emotions taking to one side or another, but rather as professionals, as diplomats, that together the military should find concrete solutions. Kerry’s visit to Moscow on 15 July was very useful and the basic principles that were agreed upon during their negotiations and reinstated during the meeting that took place between Kerry and Putin had been followed up in Geneva, he added.

Lavrov was forthcoming in telling journalists that they were going to work together with the parties – Russia with the government and the opposition that is cooperating with Russia and United States with the opposition that is cooperating with them, as well as with regional players. Both are going to do that together to remove all stumbling blocks on the way towards the compliance with the cessation of hostilities.

Stressing the problem, Lavrov said that the troops cooperating with the United States or under U.S.-led coalition are located on the territory where Jabhat al-Nusrah is located. Not only are they located there, sometimes they are cooperating with Jabhat al-Nusrah, and within the framework of their operations, without delineating adequate opposition from terrorists, I don’t think there would be a way to ensure actionable, durable, and full-fledged cessation of hostilities – our overarching priority, by the way. And I note with satisfaction that there is a current understanding regarding this task, and this understanding is become more clear. We talked about specific detailed steps. We have agreed upon almost all of those steps, but some final things need to be finalized, particularly regarding the ensuring the humanitarian access to the Syrian people who need it first and foremost in the Aleppo regions both in eastern and western parts of Aleppo.

Lavrov further said: “we have agreed to step up our bilateral contacts that have been put on hold over the last couple of weeks. I’m referring to the contacts between our representatives in Geneva which until recently took place on a daily basis. And I’m talking about the contacts between the Russian military base in Khmeimim and representatives of the American command located in Amman, the capital of Jordan. I believe that the day-to-day dialogue without any interruptions will be a key to addressing all the goals we are facing.”

The Political process, emphasised by Kerry, is our utmost priority Lavrov said adding to come closer to this priority, we are going to ensure the calming down of the situation on the ground so we would ensure improved humanitarian assistance being delivered. But here there can be no preliminary conditions. If we want to wait until the situation is 100 percent calm and only then proceed with the political process, I believe nothing could be achieved at all. All of the things are interconnected. Yes, indeed, reducing violence would be instrumental in bringing all the sides to the table. But in the same way, the launch of the negotiations would help reduce violence on the ground and be more efficient in having an influence on opposing sides both on the side of Russia and United States.

Answering apointed query about delinking the moderate opposition forces from terrorists Lavrov said: “we know that this task is very difficult because Jabhat al-Nusrah keeps transforming, changing names, coming up with new umbrellas under which they bring together various groups which aren’t formally part of Jabhat al-Nusrah.”

Lavrov went on to state that in Syria there are a number of countries represented through the military and armed forces on the ground. They entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian authorities. In the context of the Russian and Iranian troops, he said that the Iranian forces are on the ground upon the request of the Syrian authorities. And according to the balanced pragmatic approach, there are statements from Damascus according to which they are willing to cooperate with all those who want to fight against terrorism.

Lavrov was piercing as he stated that at the beginning some stakeholders planned to use their forces to weaken Assad’s regime, but now everyone understands that one cannot make these mistakes once again, as happened in Afghanistan and Iraq wherein similar attempts were made. The same took place in Libya, and right now we can see the echoes of it far from the territory of Libya.

The Russian Foreign Minister also emphasised that all those who possess the special operation forces and other divisions of armed forces on the ground in Syria will have to realize that priorities need to be set, and choosing among those priorities I am confident no one will be able to turn a blind eye to the problem of terrorists, ISIL, and Jabhat al-Nusrah.

On the Turkish presence on the Syrian ground, including the Kurds factor Lavrov said that together with his American colleagues he would like to confirm the need to promptly launch a political process with the participation of all the Syrian parties without any exceptions. The Kurds also should be involved in this process. They should remain part of the Syrian state, and they should be part of the solution rather than an actor that’s going to be used to atomize and fragment Syria that would also have a fallout effect in other areas of the region, and no one is interested in that.