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Kurdish PYD Not Invited to Syria Talks at Behest of Turkey

teleSUR | January 26, 2016

The U.N. sent invitations to several sides of the Syrian conflict but Syrian Kurds said they had not received an invitation likely due to Turkish pressure.

The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura has sent invitations to warring parties in the Syrian conflict to attend peace talks in Geneva Friday it was revealed Tuesday. Mistura has not officially elaborated on who has been invited, but the head of the Syrian Kurdish PYD group said he has not received an official invitation despite promises.

Mistura said details of the guest list were too “sensitive” to reveal. His office said that he does not expect formal responses but he hopes those invited show up in Switzerland Friday.

One of the most contentious issues in the talks was whether or not the Kurdish PYD will be present at the negotiation table. PYD leader Saleh Muslim, who is currently in Geneva, said he has not received an invitation and is not aware that any Kurdish representatives have been asked to attend. He had earlier told Reuters that he expected an invitation letter.

One of Russia’s demands was the inclusion of the PYD in the peace talks, a stipulation that Washington objected to. But Moscow and Washington reached a compromise last Saturday that both the PYD, a former Syrian official and the Saudi-backed Army of Islam would attend the talks.

Analysts say the PYD were not sent an invitation due to Turkish pressure as Ankara said it would boycott the talks if the Syrian Kurds attend. “There cannot be PYD elements in the negotiating team. There cannot be terrorist organisations. Turkey has a clear stance,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Tuesday.

The PYD, who Turkey labels a terrorist organization, has been one of the main forces fighting the Islamic State group and have full control of almost all the Kurdish regions in northern Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it would be impossible to reach a peace agreement in Syria without inviting Kurds to join the negotiating process. The PYD says the autonomous government they have established in the northeast is a decentralized model for how to resolve a war that has splintered the country.

Meanwhile, the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiations Committee (HNC), an opposition body made of several anti-government groups, have threatened a boycott unless Russian and Syrian forces stop operations in rebel-held areas.

The HNC met in Riyadh Tuesday to debate whether it would attend and confirmed to the French news agency AFP that it had received an invitation. “The response will be a request for clarifications and not an acceptance or rejection,” the unnamed source told AFP.

HNC member Salem al-Meslet said the group would resume talks Wednesday, adding that the “climate is positive.” However, the HNC says they should be the only opposition delegation and that the Kurdish PYD should be part of the government delegation.

The Syrian government has confirmed that it is attending the talks.

Other opposition figures who don’t belong to the Kurdish side or the HNC side have said they have received invitations to attend and will be present. “I am on my way to Geneva after receiving an invitation,” said Qadri Jamil, a former deputy Syrian Prime Minister who was sacked in 2013 and has good ties with Russia.

The developments come as the Syrian government has been making major advances against the rebels in recent weeks.

On Monday they captured the rebel-held town of Sheikh Maskin in southern Syria near the border with Jordan. The Syrian army also took control of Rabia Sunday, another major town in the northern Latakia province in a bid to cut supply lines for rebels through Turkey.

January 27, 2016 - Posted by | Militarism | , ,

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