nsnbc : U.S. States Department spokesman Mark Toner noted on Tuesday that Syrian Kurds should be party to any Syrian peace talks. The statement was made as preparations for talks in Astana aimed at restarting a talks in Geneva are underway.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Syrian Kurds should be party to any Syrian peace talks. He added: “This process has to include all Syrians, and that includes the Syrian Kurds.”
Responding to the question whether this would include the Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Toner implied that they PYD sooner or later should have a place at the negotiating table, saying: “At some point they have to be part of this process.”
Toner’s statement came as Russia and Turkey are scrambling to prepare preparatory peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana to get the political process back on track and to restart talks in Geneva.
Russia has previously been outspoken in insisting that Syrian Kurds should be included in the Geneva talks. However, after a Russian – Turkish rapprochement that led to the agreement to have talks in Astana, Moscow has significantly toned down its rhetoric and demands about Syrian Kurds.
Turkey perceives the PYD and its military wings, the YPG and the all-female YPJ as terrorist organizations that are allied to Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Although the PYD officially denies a formal alliance with the PKK, the situation is more complex as political utilitarianism and rhetoric may suggest.
The PKK launched its armed insurrection against the Turkish State in 1984 and has since then enjoyed more than just “goodwill” from Moscow, and in part Tehran and Syria.
The PKK – YPG nexus is according to most informed geopolitical analysts part of a Syrian – Russian (former Soviet) strategy that aims at having insurgents on standby for a potential conflict between Syrian and Turkey, Russia and Turkey, or NATO and Russia.
The United States for its part has allied itself with the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) in northern Iraq which is a traditional PKK and PYD rival. However, the United States have granted limited support to the PYD – YPG – YPJ since 2012 – 2013.
Washington designated the PYD – YPG – YPJ and the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces as “ally in the fight against the Islamic State”. However, it is not only Moscow that that has “toned down” its statements about the inclusion of Syrian Kurds in Geneva talks, and media coverage about Turkish military campaigns against Kurds in Turkey to “appease Ankara” and to get talks in Astana started.
U.S. State Department spokesman Toner’s statement was also “toned down”. “His statement that “This process has to include all Syrians, and that includes the Syrian Kurds” was followed up by the statement that the United States is “mindful of Turkey’s concerns about this group.” That said, he stressed that including the PYD is vital for “the long-sought political resolution” of the nearly six-year-long war in Syria.
Toner added: “Their voice will need to be heard in any kind of long term solution to the situation in Syria. And it’s in that spirit that we say that if there’s going to be a political process that leads to a political transition, a more Democratic one, it’s going to have to be accepted by all of the Syrian people”.
The preliminary talks in Astana are scheduled to begin on January 23, 2016. The Syrian government previously signaled that it is open for a dialog with the PYD and other Kurdish organizations. The Baath Party administration in Damascus has, however, stressed that the establishment of an independent Kurdish State in northern Syria is out of the question.
Damascus signaled that the establishment of the autonomous zones of Jazera, Kobani and Afrin in northern Syria in 2013 and the declaration of a “federal region of Syrian Kurdistan” on March 17, 2016 is an intermediate measure. However, on December 30, 2016, Syrian Kurds dominated by the PYD approved a blueprint for a federal government in Syrian Kurdistan in northern Syria, reaffirming plans for the establishment of an autonomous region in areas under their control.
CH/L – nsnbc 11.01.2017