Syrian Kurds demand representation at Geneva talks

Published January 22nd, 2016 - 01:37 GMT

A Syrian Kurdish leader has insisted that Syrian Kurds must be represented at peace talks in Geneva or the peace talks will fail.

Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), also claimed that another of the opposition groups, known as Jaysh al-Islam, had the "same mentality" as al Qaeda and Daesh.

The talks, due to start in Geneva on January 25, appear more and more uncertain as a result of disagreements over the members of the opposition delegation, among other issues.

Muslim added "If there are some parties that are effective in this Syria issue who are not at the table, it will be the same as what happened in Geneva 2," in reference to collapsed negotiations in 2014.

"The negotiations and political solution will fail so we are keen to have everyone at the table."

Russia is lobbying for the opposition negotiating team to include members with a similar political agenda to their own, as well as the main Syrian Kurdish party, the PYD, and the affiliated YPG militia.

In the meantime, the YPG has developed close ties with the United States, and is an key partner in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

The Saudi-backed opposition council has threatened to boycott the Geneva negotiations if Russia persists in such modifications.

Its chief negotiator Mohamad Alloush claimed that the "natural place" of the PYD's was with the government delegation and the opposition accused the Kurds of combatting rebel groups.

Muslim dismissed those claims as propaganda, explaining that Kurdish groups were not cooperating with the Syrian regime and were defending themselves against groups who switched from being affiliated to radical Islamists to calling themselves moderates overnight.

When questioned about the Riyadh opposition platform, established in December, Muslim said of Alloush's Jaysh al-Islam group that "their mentality is the same as the Nusra Front and Daesh. They clearly want to establish an Islamic state."

"The Riyadh platform is accepting to establish an Islamic caliphate. It's not acceptable", he added.

Zahran Alloush, the late leader of Jaysh al-Islam, had refrained from previous hardline rhetoric and claimed that the Syrian people would freely decide the type of state they wanted and called Alawites part of the Syrian people.

The YPG militia has seized vast areas of Syria from Daesh with the help of US led strikes.

The Syrian Kurds have declared an autonomous administration across parts of northern Syria along the Turkish border. The move caused tension with Ankara, which has battled decades of insurgency against Kurdish PKK separatists.

"I don't know what will happen, but we are very keen to stop the bloodshed," he said. "I think this is beginning of the political solution. It will take time."

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