Why 'Syrian Talks Likely to Reach a Dead End if Kurds Not Involved'

© AFP 2022 / DELIL SOULEIMANMembers of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) monitor the positions of Islamic State (IS) group in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, close to the Turkish border on March 13, 2015
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) monitor the positions of Islamic State (IS) group in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, close to the Turkish border on March 13, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The Geneva talks may reach a dead end if the Syrian Kurds are not involved, Russian political analyst Semyon Bagdasarov believes. For his part, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Alexei Borodavkin insists that the Kurds have every right to take part in determining the future of Syria.

Russia continues to advocate involving the Syrian Kurds in the Geneva talks, insisting that the Syrian crisis cannot be solved with the Kurds sidelined.

"The issue of the Kurdish representation still remains acute," Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, told the Valdai Discussion Club's conference 'The Middle East: When Will Tomorrow Come?', "We support the idea of involving Kurdish representatives in the talks."

Speaking at the conference, Bakhtiar Amir, Iraq's former Human Rights Minister (2004-2005), drew attention to the historically good relations between Russia and the Kurds. Amir emphasized that the interests of all people and ethnic groups living in Syria should be taken into consideration.

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Alexei Borodavkin shares a similar stance.

"We have always advocated and continue to advocate the Syrian Kurds' participation in the [Syrian] negotiations. The Kurds in Syria are a large minority, a political force, a capable military force on the ground, and in addition, they are citizens of the Syrian Republic and they have the right to take part in determining their country's fate," Borodavkin told journalists on February 23.

A Kurdish man waves a large flag of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), during a demonstration against the exclusion of Syrian-Kurds from the Geneva talks in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on February 4, 2016 - Sputnik International
Syrian Crisis 'Impossible' to Resolve Without Kurds
A new round of the intra-Syrian talks has started in Geneva on February 23. Last Monday, the Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) announced the final composition of its delegation which is comprised of various rebel groups including the Free Syrian Army and independent opposition figures.

However, the HNC includes just one Kurdish delegate. Needless to say, such a measly representation is regarded as disproportionate by some politicians.

The Kurds were not invited to the Geneva talks which were held in February 2016 since Turkey and the Syrian opposition strongly opposed the Kurdish participation in the negotiations.

For its part, Russia has repeatedly called upon the parties concerned to involve the Kurds in the peace process.

© REUTERS / Pierre AlbouyUnited Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura addresses the Syrian invitees in the presence of members of the UN Security Council and the International Syria Support Group in the context of the resumption of intra-Syrian talks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 23, 2017
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura addresses the Syrian invitees in the presence of members of the UN Security Council and the International Syria Support Group in the context of the resumption of intra-Syrian talks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 23, 2017 - Sputnik International
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura addresses the Syrian invitees in the presence of members of the UN Security Council and the International Syria Support Group in the context of the resumption of intra-Syrian talks at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, February 23, 2017

Speaking to Sputnik on February 26, Ebdulselam Eli, a representative of the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Russia, opined that it is virtually impossible to solve the Syrian crisis without the Kurds.

"Resolving the Syrian crisis without the Kurds is impossible," he said. The Kurds "are self-sufficient and they have their own armed forces. [All stakeholders] need to find common ground with the Kurds. Otherwise Syria will not have a promising future."

A man holds the flag of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as Kurds living in Greece protest in central Athens on October 8, 2014 - Sputnik International
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He called attention to the fact that the Syrian territory still remains under the control of various military and terrorist factions.

"[Damascus] does not have enough forces to take the entire country under control and rule it," Eli said.

Eli noted that Turkey strongly opposes engaging the Syrian Kurds, most notably the PYD, in the political process.

Indeed, Ankara regards the PYD and its paramilitary wing — the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) — as affiliates of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) which is outlawed in Turkey.

"However, there are forces that are against this, primarily Turkey," Eli underscored. "When Turkey is asked why Kurds who control 22 percent of the country are not taking part in the negotiations, Ankara says that the Kurdish National Council which is part of the Syrian opposition is present in Geneva. However, unlike the PYD, the Kurdish National Council does not really administer any areas in Syria. Turkey does not want to accept reality as it is."

© REUTERS / Khalil AshawiTurkish military vehicles drive in the Syrian rebel-held town of al-Rai, as they head towards the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria January 9, 2017
Turkish military vehicles drive in the Syrian rebel-held town of al-Rai, as they head towards the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria January 9, 2017 - Sputnik International
Turkish military vehicles drive in the Syrian rebel-held town of al-Rai, as they head towards the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, Syria January 9, 2017

Female fighters from the Kurdish People Protection Unit (YPG) take a break on the front line in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh on September 4, 2015. - Sputnik International
Hidden Struggle: Why Kurds 'Must be Kept Under the Roof of Damascus'
Commenting on the issue, RIA Novosti's political commentator Vladimir Ardaev highlights that the Syrian Kurds control almost 500 km (310 miles) out of 800 km (497 miles) of the Syrian-Turkish border. The journalist admits that the YPG remains one of the most capable military forces fighting against Daesh in Syria.

Ardaev quotes Semyon Bagdasarov, Head of the Center for Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies, who bemoaned the fact that Ankara's tough stance towards the Syrian Kurds complicates the ongoing peace process.

"The Kurdish groups [on the ground] include up to 50 thousand armed men, plus about 20 thousand allied troops comprised of Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmen, Alawi and other ethnic and religious minorities," Bagdasarov pointed out.

"This is a real military force, which holds the key not only to 70 percent of the Syrian-Turkish border, but also to the water resources of the Euphrates River, which is crucial for Syria. Negotiations without [the Syrian Kurds] will prove futile," the expert believes.

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