Three KNC officials to join Syria peace talks in Geneva

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Supporters of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) protesting in Qamishli. File photo

ARA News

Three representatives of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) will be included in the next round of U.N.-backed Syrian peace talks in Geneva planned for later this month, Kurdish officials told ARA News on Sunday.

The next round of United Nations-sponsored talks on the Syrian conflict have been scheduled for February 20.

Abdul Hakim Bashar, Fuad Aliko, and Hewas Xelil will represent the KNC as part of the 21-member Syrian opposition delegation, Yekiti party member Zara Salih told ARA News.

The opposition delegation includes both military and political groups headed by Nasr al-Hariri from the Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

Moscow and Ankara brokered a shaky nationwide ceasefire in December between the Syrian government and rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), a main Kurdish player in northern Syria, was excluded from the talks, despite Russian insistence on the inclusion of the PYD.

“We believe that these negotiations should be direct, that the opposition delegation should be broadly representative of all political forces in modern-day Syria who seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict in that country, including the Kurds,” Russian envoy to UN Office in Geneva Alexei Borodavkin said last week.

Turkey opposed any form of participation of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the PYD from the talks.

The PYD in the past have said that any peace talks without the inclusion of the PYD will not be successful, and that they will not abide by the results of the talks.

“Turkey has tried to legitimize its opposition with propaganda falsely depicting Rojava [Syria’s Kurdish region] 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 co-leader Salih Muslim wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times in April 2016.

“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.

Doctor Kamal Sido, a consultant at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), told ARA News that all Kurdish factions should be included in the Geneva talks.

“I don’t know if Geneva 4 will succeed. Turkey and the Syrian Islamists and pan-Arabist parties are trying everything to exclude the PYD, YPG and SDF from the peace talks, since the PYD, YPG and the SDF have a project against the Islamist project of Erdogan and the Syrian National Coalition,” Sido said.

“It’s important that the US and Europe support and strengthen the PYD, YPG and SDF on the ground. Turkey and the Islamists should not be allowed to attack Efrin, Kobani, and Cizere [Kurdish cantons in northern Syria],” he stated.

Yekiti politician Zara Salih told ARA News that it’s unlikely that Geneva will reach a political agreement.

“I think it will be difficult to reach a political solution, but Turkey and Russia could pressure both sides [the opposition and the Syrian regime]. Despite the ceasefire, there are still many ongoing battles in several areas,” he said.

“I think they can ensure the stability of implementing the ceasefire all around Syria, but a final political solution in Geneva 4 seems far away. Another fact is that the regime continues to adhere to its position, and the opposition delegation mostly represents militia groups,” Salih added.

“Hopefully, they could secure a real ceasefire and deliver essential humanitarian aid to people in different areas,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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