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Syrian PYD Excluded from Syrian Peace Talks in Geneva


The article below originally appeared in Reuters on January 26th, 2015.

Syrian Kurdish officials have yet to be invited by the United Nations to attend this week’s proposed Syrian peace talks, Saleh Muslim, the leader of the Kurdish PYD said on Tuesday, although other people backed by Russia have been convened.

The Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) is the political wing of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which have pushed back ISIS and currently hold a large swath of land in Northern Syria.

Dispute Over Representatives

Preparations for the talks, due to start in Geneva on Friday, have been beset by problems including a dispute over who should represent the opposition.

The U.N. special envoy to Syria sent invitations to participants on Tuesday without confirming the names.

Russia, an ally of Syria’s president, has sought to expand the opposition delegation to include the powerful Kurdish faction that controls wide areas of northern Syria, as well as other individuals it believes represents Syrian society.

The Syrian opposition platform created in Saudi Arabia last month, who were meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday to decide whether to send their delegation to the talks, say the Kurdish PYD party should be part of the government delegation.

‘Join or Fail’

“Of course we would sincerely like to join, and also we think that if we don’t join it, this Geneva 3 will fail as happened in Geneva 2, where they excluded some sides,” Muslim told Reuters, referring to failed talks in 2014.

We are representing a large number of people on the ground … so by excluding us they are not doing well for a political solution.”

The United Nations brought together government and opposition delegations for the “Geneva 2” talks in early 2014, but the process fell apart quickly after they disagreed on which issue to tackle first.

Muslim, who said other Kurds had also not received invites, had earlier in the day appeared confident he would be getting an invite.

Syrian activist Randa Kassis, who was on a proposed Russian list of possible attendees with Muslim, had told Reuters she had been invited as an individual, along with Haytham Manaa, Muslim, Kurdish activist Ilham Ahmed and former Syrian government minister Qadri Jamil.

She said they had all planned to meet in Switzerland ahead of the talks to discuss strategy.

Syrian Democratic Council

The PYD is part of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which was formed in December at a meeting in northeastern Syria with the stated aim of promoting a secular, democratic vision for the country.

Manaa, who is co-chairman of the SDC with Kurdish activist Ilham Ahmed, confirmed to Reuters he had been invited. Jamil was previously deputy prime minister for economic affairs under President Bashar al-Assad.

It was not immediately clear whether Kassis or Manaa would still attend if the Kurds were not represented.

[Read more at Reuters]

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