MESOPOTAMIA NEWS LATEST KURDISTAN-SYRIA : DON’T WAIT FOR BIDEN!Change in US officials paused intra-Kurdish talks: ENKS official

Karwan Faidhi Dri  5 Dec 2020 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The recent change of US officials dealing with northeast Syria (Rojava) paused Kurdish unity talks between the ruling Kurdish National Unity Parties (PYNK) and opposition Kurdish National Council (ENKS), an ENKS official has told Rudaw.

“The members of the US team who oversee the talks have been changed, including the ambassador James Jeffrey. We cannot do talks without them,” Ibrahim Biro, head of ENKS foreign relations, told Rudaw English late Friday.

US Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey retired last month and was replaced by Joel Rayburn who had been serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Levant Affairs since 2018.

Mazloum Abdi, commander-in-chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told Rojava’s Ronahi TV that talks were paused because of the absence of some US and ENKS officials from the area.

“The dialogue has not ended. We have taken a break for a while…the ENKS delegation were outside [Rojava] for a long while because they had some work to do. Some of the American guarantors were also not present,” he said.

“I hope we can resume the talks once everyone is ready,” said Abdi.

The PYNK is a coalition of 24 parties which have close ties with the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD). They have held several rounds of talks with the ENKS since late 2019. Both the ENKS and the PYD have been at odds for several years, with the ENKS accusing the PYD of being unwilling to share power and detaining their members in Rojava.

The first talks took place in Duhok in 2014. Initiated by Masoud Barzani, then president of the Kurdistan Region and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the initial talks ended in a deal which was never implemented.

There have been some achievements in recent sessions, including establishing a committee from both parties to unify the stance of Kurds in national issues.

PYD leadership member Foza Yousef told Rudaw on Thursday that talks with the ENKS have been put on hold “primarily due to the subjective demands raised by the ENKS,” referring to the opposition umbrella group’s demand of a 50/50 power share.

“Their demand is non-democratic because there are many Kurdish parties and many of them are not part of either the ENKS nor the PYNK. So, these parties will be excluded permanently [if ENKS demands are met].”

Biro denied Yousef’s claim, saying the share was agreed upon during the first phase of talks in Duhok province in 2014.

Yousif also said that council positions wanted by the ENKS “have been elected and none of their members can be removed under any pretext because this violates their rights.”

However, Aldar Khalil, who leads the PYD delegation, said in late September that all PYNK parties “have expressed their willingness to give them a number of places” to help the talks succeed.