Turkey open to Kurds participating in Syria negotiations

By Rudaw  13 Dec 2017 –  ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Turkey has expressed it supports a Kurdish representation in a prospective Syrian National Dialogue Congress, so long as the Democratic Union Party is not  present.

NTV, a private broadcaster in Turkey, interviewed Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday about the delayed conference regarding Syria’s future which Turkey, Iran, and Russia have been planning. “Iran is also against the YPG’s presence in Syria. We have handed the list of those who represent the Kurds to Russia,” Hurriyet Daily News quoted the FM as saying.

The Democratic Union Party in Syria (PYD) is the political arm of the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“The YPG is not the sole representative of the Kurds. Actually it represents only a small portion of them,” Cavusoglu added.

The PYD is the largest Kurdish political party in Syria. Separately, the Kurdish National Council (KNC/ENKS) political umbrella has also had representation in the war-torn country; however, the two groups have disagreed on governance in Syrian Kurdistan, also known as Rojava. The disagreements led to violence, jailing and displacement, and their feud remains unresolved.

Rojava authorities, whose official name is Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria and control about one-third of the country, are holding local and parliamentary elections.
Damascus has called the move a “unilateral action” while the KNC is boycotting the elections.
KNC leadership attended the first round of the Syrian peace talks this January in Astana, Kazakhstan, at Russia’s request; however, Turkey opposed a PYD presence.

At least 200,000 Syrians, many Kurds, have sought shelter in the Kurdistan Region during the nearly seven-year-long Syrian conflict. Cavusoglu said 300,000 Syrian Kurds have also gone to Turkey.
“[The YPG] forces people into joining its armed group. Kurds currently cannot go back to the 20 percent of the Syrian lands controlled by the YPG,” claimed the Turkish FM. “We are not against our Kurdish brothers, we stand with them.”

Ankara repeatedly accuses the YPG of “ethnic cleansing.” YPG denies the claims.
A UN commission stated in March after seven-month inquiry that displacements of local populations by the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was done out of “military necessity” and were not cases of ethnic cleansing.
The YPG has formed the backbone of the US-led international coalition’s anti-ISIS partnered SDF in northern and eastern Syria.

Ankara considers the YPG to be an offshoot of the banned and terror-listed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has resumed a three-decades-long guerrilla insurgency against the Turkish government, while calling for greater national and cultural rights for millions of Kurds in Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after meeting with his Syrian and Turkish counterparts on Monday that the Syrian National Dialogue Congress could possibly convene in early 2018 with the presence of Iran and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.