ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Syrian Kurdish leader says that Kurdish forces and the self-administration in the country’s northeast will only begin a dialogue with Turkey if Ankara changes its stance toward the Kurdish people.
According to Salih Muslim, the former co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), talks between Syrian Kurds and Turkey are impossible if Ankara's views and behavior remain unchanged.
“Until now, Turkey has not opened the door for dialogue and continues to label the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] as terrorists—not only the Kurdish forces but also Kurds in general,” Muslim told Kurdistan 24.
The Turkish government considers the SDF and the Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG)/Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) as offshoots of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and thus considers them as “terrorist” groups.
“Turkey views us as terrorists, and it continues to threaten Kurds in southeastern Turkey as well as northern Syria,” he added. “Unless Turkey changes its view on the Kurdish people, I don’t believe there can be an opportunity for dialogue.”
The Syrian Kurdish leader’s comments come following remarks by General Mazlum Kobane, the Commander-in-Chief of the SDF, made during a speech at a ceremony on Tuesday near Kobani to celebrate the so-called Islamic State’s final military defeat.
General Kobane said the civil and military administration of northeast Syria “is ready to open negotiations with Turkey” only if it withdraws from Afrin.
Turkey occupied Afrin following a three-month-long military campaign which began in January 2018 and ended in March.
“The second condition is that Turkey ends its threats against northeastern Syria,” Kobane added. “This will allow the national forces in Syria to find peace in the next phase after the defeat of ISIS.”
However, the Commander-in-Chief underlined that the SDF has the legitimate right to defend itself if attacked by other forces, especially Turkey which has repeatedly threatened to launch an attack against Syrian Kurds in areas east of the Euphrates.
Editing by John J. Catherine