Syria’s Kurds are trying to negotiate a settlement with Damascus as they seek to protect gains made in seven years of war, wary of its unpredictable partner now they are eager to negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad. Initial round of talks has already taken place when Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), a political arm of Kurdish dominated SDF delegation led by Ilham Ahmed, visited Syrian capital Damascus last month. This marks the first diplomatic engagement between the Assad’s regime and Kurds since 2011.The Damascus negotiations are more realistically an attempt to test the waters and we should not have any big hopes from these initial talks. The negotiations will be long and arduous process because the Damascus regime is very centralized. But there are speculations that in the meeting, both the SDC and Syrian regime representatives agreed that it is not possible to carry on with the current administrative system of the country and that a decentralized state structure is a necessity. But it will be a long negotiation process to decide the exact form of a decentralized state structure. In the meantime, until a final agreement is reached, goodwill and confidence building measures should be taken by both sides, so that talks can progress in a positive environment. Return of Tabqa Dam to Syrian government by Kurds was a good example of that. Now Syrian conflict is entering into its final stages as not many enclaves are left outside government control. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has already stated that if Kurds controlled areas are not returned to his regime through negotiations then he will not hesitate to use force. Moreover, United States has announced its desire to withdraw from Syria, which could leave the SDF exposed and embolden its enemies.To avert such an outcome and secure its gains on the ground, the SDC political arm of SDF appears to be in a hurry to reach an agreement with Damascus while its negotiating power is still strong. The Syrian regime also desires to restore its authority over SDF controlled areas without any major military campaign and it can save its military resources for Idlib, which is the last major rebel stronghold. SDC negotiators appear to be hoping for a devolution agreement along the lines of a 2011 decree issued by the Syrian government detailing the role of local authorities. Decree 107, also known as the “Local Administration Law,” was introduced as part of a package of political reforms passed in August 2011, in response to demands by a civil uprising sweeping the country at the time. The decree was designed to devolve political and administrative responsibilities to institutions at the local level, but it was never fully clear how it would be implemented.Syria is a multi-ethnic society consisting of Sunni Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkomans, Alwaites and Yazidis. To keep the country united and stable it is required to delegate powers at the local level. In multi-ethnic countries like Nigeria and India, this kind of model has arguably helped to hold these nations togetherThe two million Kurds in Syria, accounting for 15% of total population, has only aspired before the civil war to nothing more than a degree of autonomy; an aspiration always denied to them. Last September, Syria’s foreign minister WalidMuallem said that his country was open to the idea of greater powers for the country’s Kurds. He said “They want a form of autonomy within the framework of the borders of the state, this is negotiable and can be the subject of dialogue.” The SDC delegation’s visit to Damascus may be the start of that process. With a shared enemy that is Turkey and perceived advantages from cooperation, the outcome of the current negotiations could well be a continued Assad presidency, sustained by Kurdish support. The Kurdish forces need help from the Syrian Arab Army to protect the Kurds from Turkey’s military and the Syrian Arab Army need help from Kurds ruling north Syria and policing against both rebel and ISIS attack. Hence, it’s a mutual benefit for both the parties to engage with each other. Due to seven years of conflict, Syria now suffers from deep divisions along both ethno-sectarian and geographic lines. While economic links and interdependency still very much persists between the various parts of the country, and most Syrians remain remarkably attached to the idea of national unity, the country is fragmenting into competing centres of power.So, one thing is clear that Syria can’t be monolithic nation state. But whether they select decentralisation, federalism, or a confederation, that needs to be decided by the Syrians themselves. Syria is a multi-ethnic society consisting of Sunni Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkomans, Alwaites and Yazidis. To keep the country united and stable it is required to delegate powers at the local level. In multi-ethnic countries like Nigeria and India, this kind of model has arguably helped to hold these nations together.Future Syrian state should be the nation which accommodates and grants rights of all the ethnic groups, and everyone feels their participation in running of the state.The writer is a columnist for Middle-East and Af-Pak region and Editor of geo-political news agency Views Around and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, August 20th 2018.