Major Syrian Kurdish faction not invited to Geneva talks


PYD supporters. File photo

ARA News 

ERBIL – The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura has said that Syria’s Kurds would not be invited to the upcoming week’s peace talks in Geneva. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) protested his statement, saying only the Kurdish PYD party is not invited.

While the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is not invited, the KNC that is part of the Turkey-backed Syrian Coalition is. This despite the fact that the Syrian Coalition does not accept federalism in Syria.

“We hope that the UN will recognize the Kurdish representatives amongst the invited groups for the Geneva peace talks and their contribution to a peaceful solution for our country,” Siamand Hajo from KNC’s foreign relation office told ARA News.

“We demand the removal of Assad and an open discussion about the constitution of a future Syria that provides for social justice, democratic participation and human rights,” he stated.

“It is essential to maintain the unity of Syria which can best be realized by the implementation of a federal system. Besides we stress that the UN should not equate an entire ethnic group with one political party,” Hajo added. 

Speaking to ARA News, head of the KNC Ibrahim Biro said that the Western media mistaken the PYD to represent all Kurds. “We as KNC are ready for Geneva, and asked the office of de Mistura for clarification.” 

However, Sherzad Yazidi, the representative of the PYD-led canton administrations in Syria, disagrees with the KNC.

“Those [KNC] people in Geneva, they are not the real representatives of the Kurds,” Yazidi told ARA News. 

“Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are against us, because we are a democratic movement. The representatives of the Kurds are clearly the PYD and they fight against ISIS, why are they not involved in Geneva? Any solution cannot be reached without the Kurds [PYD].” 

The US state department on Friday confirmed that the PYD is not invited to the talks, despite the fact the People’s Protection Units (YPG), affiliated to the PYD, is the most effective force against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. 

“And so as we understand it, as the invitations went out they didn’t include the PYD, similar to the last round of talks. That doesn’t mean we won’t have consultations with them going forward,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said Friday. 

“(…) I have said they have been effective going after Daesh (ISIS) inside Syria. And we respect that, but this is a different process than the fight against Daesh,” Kirby stated.

“This is a political process moving forward to try to end the civil war,” said Kirby. “It doesn’t mean that at some point in the future they won’t be – it won’t be more inclusive in that regard. We’re just going to have to see how it goes,” he added.

Analysts suggest that Turkey blocked the PYD’s participation in Geneva for the PYD’s ties to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

“They were not invited because Turkey, and a large segment of the ethnic Arab and Turkmen rebel groups, are convinced that the PYD is the PKK by another name, and that the YPG is the vehicle of the PKK’s expansion in Syria,” Nicholas A. Heras, a Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security (CNAS), said in an interview with ARA News.

“The Turkish government does not want to legitimize the PYD by agreeing to have it at the table in Geneva,” Heras added. “The United States, for its part, is willing to maintain the fiction that the Turks call some of the shots in the diplomatic process.”

“But in reality, the US will keep the PYD from the negotiating table in Geneva, while expanding military cooperation with the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces coalition on the ground in Hasakah province,” the Washington-based analyst said.

“Ankara is less relevant than Washington for Syria’s Kurds,” Heras concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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