6 days ago
SULAIMANI – In an interview with NRT English, co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) says he does not think post-war Syria will return to a dictatorship, and that the YPG will continue to exist and be strengthened post-war.
Salih Muslim, co-head of the PYD, said he believes Syria will not return to a dictatorship post-war, and that a new Syria must be built founded on new relationships between all socio-ethnic groups in the country.
“With the expansion of the liberated areas, we proposed the democratic federal project [as seen in PYD areas in northern Syria] for the future of Syria. This project is based on geography and not ethnicity,” Muslim said in an interview about post-war Syria carried out by Manish Rai for NRT English.
The PYD would “continue its political work within a democratic federal Syria,” post-war, Muslim added.
Whether or not Bashar al-Assad should step down from his position as President as part of any peace process however, is something the people “should decide.”
“If stepping down would help the political solution and brings about the desired peace and stability, then it is obvious that he should step down,” Muslim said.
The PYD was a banned political group under the Assad regime.
On the role of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the PYD that has been highly successful in battling Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Syria, Muslim says the YPG will become part of the overall defense system of a new post-war Syria.
The Kurdish official also made clear that YPG forces would not be weakened or downgraded, even if, and when, ISIS is defeated in Syria.
“Strengthening and supporting the forces that have managed to defeat the worst enemies of humanity are beneficial for the Syrian people and the components of the democratic federal region of northern Syria.”
The United States called for the inclusion of the PYD in Syria peace talks on Tuesday (January 10) saying that any peace talks must include “all Syrians, including the Kurds.”
A nationwide ceasefire had been thrashed out last month between pro-regime Russia and pro-opposition Turkey in an attempt to bring to an end nearly six-years of war in Syria.
The ceasefire agreement however did not include ISIS, or the YPG. There has been some confusion over whether a former al-Qaeda affiliate, previously known as the Nusra Front, is included in the ceasefire or not.
The United States has backed the Kurdish-led forces in their fight against ISIS, infuriating Turkey, which sees the PYD and YPG as an extension of Kurdish PKK fighters who have waged a three-decade insurgency in southeastern Turkey.
Turkey fears the PYD will try to connect three de facto autonomous Kurdish cantons that have emerged during the five-year war to create a Kurdish-run enclave in northern Syria, stoking the separatist ambitions of Kurds on its own soil.
Peace talks are set to begin in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on January 23.
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Interview carried out by Manish Rai for NRT English. Rai is a columnist for the Middle-East and Af-Pak region and Editor of the geo-political news agency ViewsAround.