Uninvited to Talks, Syrian Kurds Leave Geneva

Turkey Blocks Kurdish Participation

A negotiation team from the Kurdish PYD, the political wing of the powerful YPG militia, has departed Switzerland today after being told they would not be allowed to participate in the UN peace talks on Syria, which began Friday.

Though they are one of the largest factions in the Syrian Civil War, and hold almost the entire Hasakeh Province, the PYD/YPG were not invited to the talks, on the demand of Turkey, who insists they are terrorists. Both Russia and the US had sought their inclusion, with Russia suggesting they might be able to participate later even if they didn’t get in the first day.

PYD co-president Saleh Muslim was among the delegation sent to Geneva, and while the group was carefully sequestered from the pro-Saudi “Higher Negotiations Committee” it was hoped they might find a spot at the table, given how few factions managed to show up in the first place.

Turkey’s refusal to allow any Kurds at the talks, along with resistance from other rebel factions, who insist the Kurds’ focus on fighting ISIS means they aren’t proper rebels, ultimately kept them out of the talks, which means the first round will be between the Syrian government and a coalition representing a handful of mostly trivial rebel factions.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.