Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using





Implications of exclusion of PYD from Astana talks on Syria

By Paul Iddon 21/1/2017
A Syrian Kurdish women holds a portrait of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan during a rally in Qamishli last Monday denoucing that Kursdish reprensantatives were not invited to take part in the upcoming Astana peace talk to be held on Monday. Photo: AFP
A Syrian Kurdish women holds a portrait of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan during a rally in Qamishli last Monday denoucing that Kursdish reprensantatives were not invited to take part in the upcoming Astana peace talk to be held on Monday. Photo: AFP
The latest talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict are set to take place in Astana, Kazakhstan on Monday. One group has been conspicuously excluded: the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). 

“This absence of Syrian Kurds, particularly from the dominant PYD party, continues the pattern set in Geneva,” David Pollack, the Kaufman Fellow at the Washington Institute, told Rudaw English. “It is not new. Turkey and Assad, and the mainstream Syrian opposition, for different reasons, have all objected to them, and Russia has gone along with that.”  

“Turkey is adamant that the PYD not attend peace talks,” said the Atlantic Council's Aaron Stein, whose area of expertise is US-Turkish relations. “This is a pillar of Turkey’s Syria policy, and therefore a ‘red line’ in its negotiations with Russia over the Astana process.” 

“With that said,” he added, “the strategy is bound to fail. It’s not feasible to isolate in perpetuity one of the strongest actors in a civil conflict, if indeed the goal is a viable peace agreement with a coherent political arrangement.”

Washington has said that the PYD should be invited. Washington has relied on the PYD, particularly its armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), in its fight against ISIS in northeast Syria since it began two and a half years ago. 

“The US has wanted Syrian Kurdish participation in Astana, but has not insisted,” Pollack said. “I think this all reflects the relatively small numbers and weak overall position of Syria's Kurds.” 

“But even their enemies understand that at some point they need to be addressed,” he added, “not only for their role against ISIS but also because they control strategic enclaves of Syria along the Turkish border.”

The PYD currently rules Syria's Kurdish territories, which achieved de-facto autonomy early in the ongoing Syrian war. While it has clashed with pro-regime militiamen in Hasakah and Qamishli in the past, the PYD/YPG has not gone to war against the regime, much to the consternation of some in the Syrian opposition. The Kurdish National Council (KNC/ENKS), the PYD's political opponent in Syria Kurdistan, is a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC) opposition group and is attending the Astana talks.  

“There cannot be a Kurdish buy-in to a settlement without the involvement of the PYD,” Robert Lowe, the Deputy Director of the London School of Economics' Middle East Centre, told Rudaw English. 

“The PYD's exclusion from the talks reflects Turkey's position rather than making a meaningful effort to forge an inclusive peace,” he added. “Turkey prefers to try to weaken the Kurds through their divisions but the PYD holds the power on the ground. It also makes amity between the Kurdish factions less likely.”

Russia is presently militarily coordinating with Turkey in Syria against ISIS in the northwestern Syrian city of al-Bab. The Turks, according to an unnamed Turkish official cited by Reuters late last month, hope participation in the Astana negotiations will give them a free hand to target the PYD/YPG in Syria once ISIS is defeated. 

“Relations between Russia, Turkey and the PYD may shed a light on Moscow's political mid-term priorities in the Syrian conflict,” Timur Akhmetov, a researcher on Russia's Middle East policy, told Rudaw English. “After Aleppo's fall Russian military forces in Syria are preparing for operations in northwestern Syria, where Turkish-backed armed fighters are in close proximity to ISIS and Nusra militants who are legitimate targets for Russian airstrikes. It is therefore important for Moscow to structure its indirect conflict with Turkey.” 

“The Astana talks were not designed to seal a political resolution per se,” he added. “It has to be seen rather as an attempt to bring the conflict between the government and armed opposition into a political conflict. Bringing Turkey into the negotiations as a guarantor is part of Moscow's goal to channel the conflict into a more predictable and controllable one.” 

“The fact that the PYD is not present at the Astana talks is not very important for Russia,” Akhmetov argued. “The PYD has not been representing a tangible threat to Russian interests in Syria so far and it is, it seems, viewed by Moscow as a more or less predictable actor, at least in military terms.” 

“It is the Geneva talks and Russian statements on PYD's participation in them that might actually reveal Moscow's genuine view of the PYD,” he concluded, referring to the stalled Geneva III talks last year which the Astana talks might, if successful, reinvigorate. “So far Russia has been vocal about Kurdish presence at the political negotiations in Geneva.”


Muraz Adzhoev | 21/1/2017
Absolutely wrong and incompetent conclusions, far from realities and knowledge of the Kurdish issue and the true political situation in Western Kurdistan.
Brzoo Kurdi
Brzoo Kurdi | 21/1/2017
Rex Tillerson the new secretary of state calls PYD "the most reliable partner in middle east to fight ISIS " is not amazing he did not even mention Turkey as a partner? . Turkey is on its way to become like Iran , Hamas is happy about this.

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

Hhsh | 11/15/2018 7:23:15 AM
Wow great move turkey. NOT killing the PKK is one thing but targeting them and killing peshmerga even if by accident BIG MISTAKE!
Turkish airstrikes kill at least 3 people including Peshmerga in Amedi
| yesterday at 09:25 | (1)
The Reader | 11/14/2018 10:34:54 PM
Who can explain why does the USA fear Erdogan? Turkey hates and humiliates the Americans while the US, fearful, bows to Turkey and behaves ...
Tahir Fatah | 11/15/2018 6:09:44 AM
Erdogan, Ottomanism and Turkish nationalism a century after WWI
| yesterday at 10:44 | (4)
Yassir Fekaiki
Yassir Fekaiki | 11/14/2018 3:37:53 PM
He should contact Bafel Talabany' and his Cunter Terrorists Group who own and use the real $500,000 ones for fun on London streets with Registration...
Saleha Bhayat | 11/15/2018 2:02:12 AM
Well Done on building your super car.
Kurdish chop shop builds homemade Lamborghini
| yesterday at 03:43 | (2)
JamKurd | 11/15/2018 12:43:11 AM
This Daesh SOB should be delivered to the Kurds to be executed with families of the Peshmarga martyred participate in tightening the noose around...
Senior ISIS leader confesses to capturing, parading Peshmerga
| yesterday at 07:14 | (1)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Khashoggi murder: US hits 17 Saudis with sanctions 14 hours ago |

Khashoggi murder: US hits 17 Saudis with sanctions

Saudi Arabia admitted that 59-year-old Khashoggi more
Trump administration unveils 3 goals for Syria 19 hours ago |

Trump administration unveils 3 goals for Syria

De-escalation, "reinvigorated" political process, more
0.875 seconds