Syrian Kurdish leader says both Damascus and Syrian opposition opposed to Kurdish rights

Wladimir van Wilgenburg
3 min readDec 19, 2020

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) — Former co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and senior PYD member Salih Muslim told Kurdistan 24 in an interview on Monday that both the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition that recently met in Geneva are not interested in dialogue with the Syrian Kurds.

“I have to say that either the Syrian government or the Syrian opposition, especially those of Coalition based in Turkey, have a similar mindset towards the Kurds. Both of them do not accept the Kurdish identity, and they are not willing to discuss the rights of the Kurdish people,” he said.

“A recent example was in the letter of the Syrian government’s representative, eight articles that basically called for all parties to support the Baath government to help Damascus to restore the situation to that of pre-2011. In all these year nothing has changed in their mentality about the Syrian Kurds and their rights,” he added.

“The Syrian opposition, likewise, have a similar stance against the Kurds of Syria.”

The Turkish army and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces in October 2019 attacked areas in northern Syria under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces. As a result, local Kurdish-led authorities were forced to make a deal with Damascus to deploy Syrian armed forces to protect the border against Turkish-backed forces along the northern border.

But despite of the deal with Damascus, relations did not improve between Damascus and the Kurdish-led forces, with Damascus accusing the Kurds with the “US occupation”. As a result, earlier between Damascus and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) have failed, with Damascus refusing to recognize autonomy and insisting on the full return of all territory within Syria’s borders.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), General Mazloum Abdi, earlier told the International Crisis Group (ICG) that the SDF for years have tried to find a middle ground with Damascus.

“Today, we don’t think that a bilateral agreement is possible, and we believe that the status of the north east should be settled as part of an internationally guaranteed deal that would include all of Syria.”

The Syrian Kurdish-led forces also accused the Syrian regime of being behind the assassination of tribal figures in August. The SDF have also arrested alleged regime cells involved in assassinations in the northeast of Syria.

However, Muslim said, that the PYD as “part of the administration will remain an advocate for dialogue (with Damascus), regardless of the second party before us; even if it is a hostile party, we need a dialogue to understand the causes of the hostilities.”

“Therefore, we knocked on many doors in Damascus to keep the door open for talks, yet our words fell on deaf ears, we learned that the government has not changed its old mindset. And they [Damascus] called our friends five months ago, that ‘We are not ready at the moment to discuss this issue [Kurdish question].’”

The Syrian Kurdish leader also indicated that they have no hope for dialogue with Turkey, although they have no problem with the Turkish people.

“The mentality controlling Turkey, is a fascism that does not want to recognize the Kurdish people, let alone their rights. We might be able to reach a solution with the Syrian government and other components.”

Muslim also said the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) should be part of the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva.

Representatives from the Syrian government, non-governmental organizations and the Syrian opposition recently met in Geneva and are planning to hold a fifth round of talks for the writing for a new constitution on January 25–29.

“As of now, the exclusion of the Self-Administration from the talks and the (Constitutional) committee is a major fault. An administration that represents 5 million people in north and east Syria; by excluding this party from the process, any solution would be inadequate.”

“We have said that the UN, either represented by Mr. Pederson or anyone else, must include the Northeast Syria administration so they could preserve their rights in a future constitution,” he concluded.

Source: Kurdistan 24, 8 December



Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Jamestown Analyst & freelance journalist based in Kurdistan vvanwilgenburg m