The interview below was conducted by Sputnik, and was originally published on January 27, 2015. Photo courtesy of AFP.
Washington Kurdish Institute Director of Media and Policy Yousuf Ismael said that the Kurdish opposition in Syria must have a seat at the negotiating table in Geneva if the international community truly wants the peace talks to be productive.
Talks Will ‘Fail’ Without Kurds
“Kurds are represented in Syria by the Democratic Union Party (PYD),” Ismael told Sputnik on Tuesday. “[I]f the great powers want fruitful results at the Geneva conference they should include the co-chair of PYD, Mr. Saleh Muslim, since he represents the far majority of the Kurdish people in Syria.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the intra-Syrian reconciliation talks to be held in Geneva on Friday will fail to result in a political settlement without the participation of the Syrian Kurds.
Turks Seek to Exclude Kurds
Turkish officials have sought to exclude the PYD, which is viewed in Ankara as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey makes no distinction between the PKK, PYD and the Islamic State, which is also known as Daesh and is outlawed in Russia and other countries.
Ismael pointed out the Syrian Kurds agree with Lavrov’s statement. Said Ismael,
The Kurds in Syria are an essential side in the political dynamics in Syria in addition [to] being the most effective forces to fight ISIL [Daesh] terrorists.”
Ismael also said the United States believes the PYD should be represented in the intra-Syrian peace talks, even though it has not voiced its support publicly.
Geneva Talks Begin Friday
UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, who scheduled the much-anticipated talks between Syrian government and opposition delegates to be held on Friday in Geneva, began issuing official invitations on Tuesday.
Qadri Jamil, one of the leaders of the Syrian Popular Front for Change and Liberation coalition, told Sputnik that PYD chair Saleh Muslim was included in the list of moderate opposition members, but could not confirm whether he had received de Mistura’s invitation.
The Washington Kurdish Institute is a nonprofit organization that promotes human rights and advocates for effective solutions to Kurd-related issues. The Institute was founded in Washington, DC in 1996 by Najmaldin Karim, who currently serves as the governor of Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan.[Read more at Sputnik]