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    Iraqi Kurdish girls carry a Kurdistan flag during the celebration of Flag Day in the northern city of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq

    'Vital' Regional Ally: Why Russia 'Should Play Kurdish Card'

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    Russia should increase its influence in the Middle East by playing on regional differences and the Kurds are instrumental in this respect, Russian analyst Vladimir Lepekhin asserted.

    Moscow's relations with the Kurds in Turkey, according to the analyst, are gradually improving at a time when Ankara is essentially in a state of war with its Kurdish population. Turkish forces have recently intensified the airstrike campaign against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) after the ceasefire collapsed.

    "Nowadays Russia's cooperation with the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and elsewhere has not only become possible, but is in fact vital. Russia does not have many friends in the Middle East. So it cannot ignore ties with its longtime ally like the Kurds," the expert wrote in an opinion piece for RIA Novosti.

    Russia could improve ties with the Kurds in Turkey in response to Ankara's "unfriendly steps" towards Moscow, he added.

    "The simplest form of cooperation involves sending Russian weapons to Kurdish fighters in Turkey," he noted.

    Lepekhin maintains that Moscow should be careful in promoting ties with the Kurds since this ethnic group and its aspirations are one of the key factors not only for Turkey, but also Syria, Iran and Iraq. Russia should keep in mind that regardless of where the Kurds live, they want to establish an independent state by carving out parts of the existing sovereign states, he pointed out.

    Russia's relations with the Kurds should be considered within the framework of Moscow's "strategic partnership with Tehran … and the emerging peace process in Syria," the analyst noted. He believes that Moscow and Damascus would want the Syrian Kurds to take part in the negotiations to counterbalance the opposition.

    "Russian analysts mostly agree that Moscow should play the Kurdish card more actively in Turkey and Syria. It should provide support to Peshmerga in return for the Kurdish backing of the Syrian government forces, the Iraqi government and especially Iran," he asserted.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    Middle East, Kurds, geopolitics, cooperation, Turkey, Syria, Russia
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