PYD excluded from Geneva talks again, KNC to attend

United Nations mediator and the opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) at the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. (c) UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

21 opposition delegates to represent the Syrian coalition in the upcoming 4th round of Geneva were selected in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The delegation will be headed by Nasr al-Hariri, a former member of Syria’s legislative body.

Also included in the delegation is Fouad Aliko from the Kurdish National Council, which represents about 12 Kurdish parties in Syria, and is backed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KNC has been present at previous talks and was also part of the recent meeting in Astana but lacks any real authority on the ground in Syria’s predominantly Kurdish north.

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is seen as the most popular group in northern Syria and officials from the region’s autonomous federal structure (Rojava) have once again been excluded from the talks due to a veto by Ankara.

Speaking to Syrian Kurdish news agency ANHA on Monday, Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) co-leader Ilham Ehmed confirmed they had not been invited and said the delegation selected in Riyadh did not represent the “reality on the ground and the people.”

Ehmed also said they would not recognise any decisions taken at the fourth round of the Geneva talks facilitated by the United Nations and that the meeting was doomed to fail without their participation.

Turkey sees the PYD and allied entities as being affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Ankara views as a terrorist organisation. However critics have accused the Turkish government of using this as a pretext for its anti-Kurdish policy in the region.

Approximately 10% of Syria’s current 18 million population are thought to be living in areas controlled by the autonomous administration, which in 2016 declared the Northern Syria Democratic Federal System Constituent Assembly for a federal solution to the Syria crisis.