Main Syrian opposition against Kurdish PYD participation in Geneva

Syrian opposition chief Riad Hijab (R) stands next to High Negotiations Committee (HNC) spokesman Salem al-Meslet during a press conference on February 3, 2016 in Geneva ((c) AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Syria’s main opposition group, says it will not accept the participation of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the upcoming fourth round of Geneva talks.

Mohammad Sabra, a leading member of the HNC and the group’s legal adviser told Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, “Our objection to the participation of the Democratic Union Party is a matter of principle and should the party want to take part, it has to do so on the regime side.”

Sabra’s comments came after UN Special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura suggested that he could select members of the opposition if they could not agree on a delegation.

The PYD has popular support in the autonomous region in Syria’s north but has so far been excluded from talks on grounds that Turkey views it as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group Ankara has been fighting since 1984.

The PYD’s France representative Khalid Issa recently told the same newspaper, following a meeting in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, they would be included in February’s Geneva talks.

The PYD has refused to join talks on the regime side and has claimed that it represents a “third way” independent of the Syrian government and opposition, which it has said does not have a solution to the Syria crisis. Meanwhile the Syrian opposition has accused the PYD of working with the government, while Damascus has refused to accept the federal system supported by the PYD.

The Kurdish dominated PYD is affiliated to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), groups that are supported by the US-led global anti-IS coalition.