Jan 22, 2018

Russia: U.S. relationship with Kurds sows division in Syria

Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday the U.S. has been "discouraging the Kurds from dialogue" with the Syrian government and sowing “separatist sentiment” among them, per the AP. Lavrov said this shows a “lack of understanding of the situation or a deliberate provocation” and urged all involved parties to recognize Syria’s sovereignty.

Why it matters: This comes as Turkey is launching an offensive to boot out Kurdish forces with links to the U.S. in Syria over the weekend, and Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has said Turkey has an agreement with Russia over the assault. The U.S. detailed plans last week to continue backing Kurdish forces in the region to ensure that ISIS or other rogue elements don’t regain control of the territory, setting up fuel for the showdown to continue.

Now that ISIS lacks a physical caliphate in the region, the powers with overlapping and conflicting interests in the region are butting heads — not that they weren’t before. The conflict now is taking on a different form, one in which the various parties in Syria tend to disagree about Syria’s future, in which a political solution post-ISIS remains to be determined, and on top of all that, the war is ongoing. These tensions will only ramp up from here.

Keep in mind...

  • Russia supports a Syrian future with President Bashar al-Assad in power.
  • Iran has been backing Assad as well.
  • Turkey's Erdogan broke with Russia and Iran last month when he called Assad a terrorist and questioned whether there could be a political solution involving the president.
  • The U.S. has said there is no future for Assad in Syria, but has also said the future of Syria must be determined by the Syrian people.

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,513,358 — Total deaths: 88,415 — Total recoveries: 329,329Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 430,376 — Total deaths: 14,739 — Total recoveries: 23,707Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
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  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York tops previous day's record death toll

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in the state in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

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New York City's skyline on a smoggy day in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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