ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – On Monday, the chief coordinator of the central Western-backed Syrian opposition visited the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and discussed the latest developments regarding the Syrian conflict and the Kurdish question in Syria with President Masoud Barzani.
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Riad Hijab, who heads the Syrian opposition council backed by Saudi Arabia, said, “Again, I confirm that Syrian Kurds are represented in Geneva peace talks, and they are an essential faction of the Syrian social structure.”
Hijab’s surprise visit to the Kurdistan Region came after the Kurdish National Council in Syria (ENKS) condemned the unfair words about the Syrian Kurds uttered by the head of the Syrian opposition delegation to Geneva talks Asaad al-Zoubi two weeks ago.
“I confirm that what al-Zoubi said is unacceptable,” Hijab continued. “[al-Zoubi’s] words may have been misinterpreted or slipped off the tongue because I know him as a patriotic person, yet we do not accept his unfair words against the Kurds.”
Hijab added that Kurds played, and are still playing, an essential role in the Syrian revolution since it broke out in March 2011. “The Kurdish youth in Syria have been at the forefront of the anti-regime protests since the very beginning of the revolution,” he said.
Hijab also commented on the role of the Kurdish forces of People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “These forces are related to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which we consider an ally of the Syrian regime, so these forces are away from the Syrian revolution, and do not serve Syria’s national interest or the objectives of the Syrian revolution,” he stated.
Regarding federalism voted by Syria's Kurdish-controlled northern region two weeks ago, Hijab said, “Federalism should be agreed by all Syrians, and what was declared in the north of Syria two weeks ago was one-sided.”
“We hope Syrian Kurds run their affairs in coordination with the other factions and elements, not from one side,” Hijab said.
Asked about the Syrian Kurds’ worries of not being mentioned in the UN Special Envoy’s Paper on Points of Commonalities, Hijab said, “I confirm that Kurds are a key inherent component of the Syrian people, and will enjoy all their national rights in the new Syria like all other Syrian people.”
Further, Hijab pointed out that ENKS represents the Syrian Kurds. “I will have many discussions with ENKS regarding its military wing [Rojava Peshmerga] and many other matters regarding its participation in the Geneva talks,” he said.
Hijab, Syria’s former prime minister, was chosen by Syrian opposition groups as coordinator of a negotiating body to lead future peace talks held in Geneva on April 9.
Reporting by Hisham Arafat
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa