By Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Russia and Iran’s sudden love for Syria’s Kurds is strange.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said he was “shocked” over the alleged death of’ 450 peaceful Kurds in Aleppo’s countryside by groups affiliated with Al-Qaida. In Iran, the basij militia sent a letter to UN-chief Ban Ki-moon to condemn the massacres of Kurds and Alawites in Latakia.
But what is behind this sudden love for Syrian Kurds?
Both the Iranian and Russian media used fake photos and video to depict the killing of Syrian Kurds. Tehran and Moscow did not care about the death of Sunnis in Syria, so why this sudden care over the death of Kurds?
One of the disseminated videos was of three Iraqis who were set ablaze by Al-Qaida in 2008. Another video that was used was actually of Syrian forces bombing the Kurdish village of Tall Haddad in April 2013, which killed 16 civilians.
It is quite clear that Kurdish civilians were indeed victims of the conflict — just like other civilians living in Syria. Al-Qaida groups have killed thousands of civilians in the past. So why the sudden surprise in Tehran and Moscow?
It is clear that Russia and Iran have an interest in playing up the Al-Qaida card.
Lavrov stated that if the Syrian opposition would continue to try to overthrow the Syrian regime, it would benefit Al-Qaida in the end.
Moreover, Russia was extremely interested in the CIA’s recent statement that Syria could become a safe haven for Al-Qaida, and that the US congress was slightly worried about arms going to Syrian rebels.
Some observers believe that Russia and Iran – which have both turned into linchpins of the Damascus regime — are actually benefiting from the presence of Al-Qaida in Syria. It is clear that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime also benefits from this relationship with Al-Qaida – although there is no real proof of links between the pro-Qaida Jabhat al-Nusrah group and Assad’s government.
Any massacre of Syria’s ethnic and religious minorities would underscore Assad’s argument that he is needed for stability.
The fear of a new “Afghanistan” would stop any Western support for armed groups against Assad, and would make any outside intervention unlikely.
This is why Russia and Iran suddenly care about Syrian Kurds, and that is why a US spokesperson recently condemned the killing of Kurdish civilians in Aleppo.