PYD leader: We should be invited to Geneva talks as representatives of Syrian Kurds

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Salih Muslim, co-chair of the PYD. File photo

ARA News 

DUHOK  – Syrian Kurdish leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, blamed Turkey  for excluding the PYD from the Geneva peace talks that will resume this week. The PYD leader stated that their fight is in Syria and not Turkey.

“This week, United Nations talks meant to chart a path toward a peaceful, democratic future for Syria are set to resume in Geneva. But, in an absurd twist, the legitimate representatives of a large, democratically governed area in the country will not be invited to attend,” Muslim wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times Wednesday. 

“This area is called Rojava, in the northern part of Syria, and despite its frequent description as “Kurdish,” it is governed inclusively by Kurds, Arabs, and the area’s other ethnic groups. Furthermore, its self-defense forces are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces backed by the United States that have advanced toward Raqqa, the center of the Islamic State’s power in Syria,” he added, suggesting it is a bottom up model for the rest of Syria.

The PYD co-chair called the exclusion of his party from Geneva talks “unfair and undemocratic”, blaming Turkey. “The primary reason for this injustice is that Turkey opposes Rojava’s military force, the People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., claiming it is one and the same with the P.K.K., a Kurdish group with a long history of armed conflict with the Turkish government,” he said.

“This is not true,” he said. “The Y.P.G.’s fight is about Syria, not Turkey. Its role is to defend the institutions of self-government in Northern Syria (the party of which I am co-president, the Democratic Union Party, is part of this political coalition, along with other parties and civil society organizations),” Muslim said.

Speaking to ARA News, PYD official Zuhat Kobani said: “Turkey is afraid of the participation of Kurds, because they know their impact on northern Kurdistan [Kurds in Turkey].”

The PYD-leader also suggested that the Kurdish National Council (KNC) that will participate alongside the opposition’s coalition does not represent the Syrian Kurds, although the KNC insist they represent Kurdish demands in Syria in Geneva and demanded the opposition to accept federalism.

Senior KNC-leaders Abdulhakim Bachar and Fuad Aliko, are the Kurdish members in the opposition negotiation delegation to the Geneva III talks. 

“[It] claims to speak for Syrian Kurds, was invited to the talks as part of a coalition of opposition groups, they do not legitimately speak for Rojava. The decision was made not to invite our own representatives,” he said.

However, the KNC says they do not represent all Kurds. “I think nobody can say that they completely represent the Kurds,” Zara Salih, a member of the Political Committee of the Yekîtî Party told ARA News. “The best solution for the Kurds now is that they make a political deal between the PYD and the KNC to make an independent Kurdish delegation in Geneva 3 and work together to demand federalism.”

“At that time they can say that they represent all Kurds. Both the Syrian regime and the opposition are anti-Kurdish and are against federalism, so there is no choice except unity for the Kurds in this historical and critical moment,” Salih said.

The PYD leader also said that the West have their own incentives to placate Turkey, due to the refugee crisis and the need for the Turkish support in the campaign against the Islamic State. “We understand the demands of realpolitik, but the exclusion of Rojava from the U.N. talks is shortsighted and unjust,” he said. 

“Turkey has tried to legitimate its opposition with propaganda falsely depicting Rojava as an ethnic project for Kurdish dominance that aims to divide Syria. They have spread grotesque accusations of “ethnic cleansing” by Kurdish forces, reports not supported by more measured analyses, for instance, those by the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria,” the PYD leader said, asking human rights organizations to visit Syria. 

“We want to make common cause with democratic opposition throughout Syria, and so we ask the United States and the international community to immediately act to end our exclusion from talks about the country’s future,” Muslim said.

Speaking to ARA News, Nicholas Heras, a Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security, said: “The PYD/YPG is like a forbidden romance for US anti-ISIS policy. The Americans are working more closely with the YPG as the campaign continues, while Turkey, some of its Arab state allies, and the Turkish-backed Syrian rebels forbid the Americans from bringing the YPG to Geneva.”

“The truth of the matter is that although the YPG and PYD are not invited to Geneva, everyone involved with the negotiations knows that Assad’s statelet and the Rojava administration are the two non-negotiable components of the post-conflict settlement,” he said.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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