Syrian Kurds fragmented in Geneva III peace talks

Syrian Kurdish political groups are fractured to take part in the upcoming Syrian peace talks in Geneva

QAMISHLO, Syrian Kurdistan (K24) – Syrian Kurdish groups of both regime and opposition sides announced on Sunday that they are taking part in the upcoming Geneva conference, while other leading parties remain out of the negotiations.

Syrian Kurdish political groups are fractured among three delegation bodies. Damascus-based Syrian Kurds' National Initiative (SKNI) are within the Syrian Government’s negotiating body, while the Kurdish National Council in Syria (ENKS) belongs to the Syrian opposition. The third, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), are excluded from the negotiations.     

In an exclusive satement for K24, Omer Ose, a Kurdish member of the Syrian parliament and the head of SKNI, said, “As one of the 15 members in the [Syrian] Government's delegation to Geneva talks, I will participate in the negotiations as the head of both SKNI and the National Reconciliation Commission in the Syrian Parliament.” 

On the Kurds' situation in the Syrian opposition, Ose commented, “The inclusion of both ENKS and PYD in the peace talks is an essential prerequisite for making the Kurdish issue in Syria successful at the negotiating table.”

“Unfortunately, Kurds always disagree in key historical moments, and I feel sorry for the Kurds in the [Syrian] opposition for being fragmented,” Ose said.   

“With ENKS present and PYD absent, the Kurdish representation in the peace talks will be fragile and inactive, and vice versa,” Ose added, pointing out that Kurds in the opposition had to insist on unity where no party negotiate without the other. 

He confirmed that the Syrian government delegation promised to be flexible towards the Kurdish issue in Syria provided that it doesn't "harm national sovereignty and preserves the unity of Syria."  

“The talks won’t be face-to-face, because one of the opposition groups involved, Jaysh al-Islam, is considered a terrorist organization such as al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS),” Ose said, explaining that the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura will coordinate between both groups of negotiators.

Representing Kurds in the ENKS, Fouad Aliko told K24 that the group is a key component of the Syrian opposition and has representatives in the opposition’s negotiating delegation at the Geneva III peace talks.

Aliko said that over six hundred thousand Kurds in Syria have signed off on a document recognizing ENKS as their representative. He mentioned that the document will be presented to the United Nations.

In a statement published by the Syrian Coalition on Saturday, Aliko said that his inclusion in the opposition’s negotiating team is part of a national project aimed at preserving the rights of all Syrians and guaranteeing the rights of the Kurds. 

On the PYD exclusion from the peace talks, PYD co-president Saleh Muslim said in an interview for Kurdish Ronahi TV, “If Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] administration and PYD are not on the negotiating table, there will be nobody defending the Western values of democracy.” 

“The Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) are fighting terrorism not only for the Kurds of Syria but rather for the world and humanity,” Muslim added.

Furthermore, Muslim argued that the negotiations and the political solution will fail so “we are keen to have everyone at the table.”

On June 30, 2012, then UN peace envoy to Syria Kofi Anan initiated an "action group" conference (now referred to as Geneva I Conference on Syria).

The Geneva II Conference on Syria took place on Jan. 22, 2014 in Montreux and on Jan. 23-31 in Geneva. The UN peace envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi pursued the conference in cooperation with the United States and Russia. 


Reporting by Hisham Arafat

Editing by Richard Eagleton and Karzan Sulaivany