Kurdish National Council suspends participation in Syria peace talks

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

ARA News

The Kurdish National Council (KNC) on Saturday decided to suspend its participation in the negotiations in the Syrian peace talks in Geneva, after the Syrian opposition refused to recognize Kurdish demands.

“The Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) has taken part in the Geneva negotiations as a member of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) in order to achieve a political solution for Syria,” the KNC said in a statement. “It has continually sought a common policy with the High Negotiations Committee, and has striven for this policy to fulfill all Syrians’ hopes and to correspond to their aspirations.”

“For this reason, the KNC’s representatives presented a document within the HNC and the negotiating delegation, intending to mutually submit this document to the UN Special Envoy, Mr. de Mistura. The paper requests the confirmation of the representation of Kurds in the negotiation process, in order to refute false reports claiming the opposite. Furthermore, the document presented by the KNC contains the demand to include the Kurdish Question and the question of other components of Syria’s population into the agenda of the negotiations,” the KNC said.

However, the KNC said that the Syrian opposition and members of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Changed (NCB) opposed it, and persisted on leaving the Kurdish question aside. “This raises doubts as to the HNC’s credibility, in particular with respect to its commitment to uphold the national rights of the Kurds and those of other groups in Syria, like the Turkmens and the Assyrians, in accordance with the constitution,” the KNC said.

”While we address our genuine gratitude towards those patriotic voices, who have supported our demands, and while we appreciate the opinions they have expressed, we refuse to accept ignorant political practices excluding others. In our view, more dialogue is needed, and we hence emphasise, that the continuation of our participation in the HNC’s meetings is pointless within the current round of negotiations,” the KNC said.

“We therefore declare our suspension. Consequently, we will deem all resolutions taken and documents produced during our absence as non-binding,” the Kurdish council stressed.

As a result, KNC members Dr. Abdulhakim Bashar, Fuad Aliko, and Hawas Sadoon will not participate anymore in the Geneva talks.

Majdal Delli, a member of the KNC-affliated Kurdish Yekiti Party, told ARA News that the decision to pull out from the negations was decided by the KNC leadership in Qamishli city. “We are still a part of the Syrian opposition,” he said. “The Syrian opposition until now hasn’t accepted federalism as a solution to the civil war in Syria.”

Nevertheless, he said he doesn’t expect the withdrawal from the Geneva talks to lead to better relations between the KNC and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), that has set up a local administration system in Northern Syria.

“As we expected, the round of peace negotiations on the crisis in Syria ended in Geneva without any tangible progress,” said Abdulkarim Omer, head of Foreign Relations at the PYD-led Cezire canton.

The PYD has said they will not recognize any outcome of the Geneva talks, as long as it is excluded.

While the PYD was excluded from Geneva as result of Turkish pressure, the KNC participated in the talks, but did not achieve results on behalf of the Kurdish cause in Syria.

The PYD and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) became the most dominant actors in Syrian Kurdistan after they took control of most Kurdish cities in July 2012 and established local autonomous canton administrations in Efrin, Kobani, and Cezire [Hasakah Governorate] in 2014.

The KNC is considered the main rival to the PYD, and backed by Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The PYD, on the other hand, is closer to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Both the KDP and PKK have significant influence over the Kurdish parties in Syria.

The KNC has refused to recognize the PYD-led canton administrations in Rojava-Northern Syria, and called for a return to previous agreements signed in Duhok and Erbil to share power between the Kurdish parties. This while the PYD has called on the KNC to recognize its administration as a precondition for power-sharing.

While the PYD has accused the KNC of working for foreign agendas and Turkey, the KNC has accused the PYD of working with the Syrian regime.

So far, the two sides have not been able to share power in northern Syria, and have been working against each other after the failure of the Duhok agreement which was signed in October 2014.

After clashes in the region of Sinjar between the KDP-affiliated and PKK-affiliated groups on 3 March, in which seven fighters and one journalist were killed, tensions increased.

Over 40 members of the KDP-backed KNC were arrested by pro-PYD security forces in northern Syria, and several KNC offices were either closed and burned down.

Moreover, in a protest against the KDP in Sinjar by PKK supporters, one civilian got killed and seven wounded on March 14. Also six activists, who protested against the KDP in Erbil on 4 March, are still held in prison in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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