Syrian opposition leader calls for Kurdish inclusion

Syrian opposition leader calls for Kurdish inclusion
REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
5 years ago

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RIYADH — A leading member of Syrian opposition group the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said on Saturday (April 9) that the Kurds are an essential part of Syria and its future.

Assad al-Zoubi, speaking in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, was seeking to clarify comments he made in March that angered Syria's Kurds and caused the Kurdish National Council to suspend its participation in the HNC.

Al-Zoubi, who leads the HNC's delegation at UN mediated peace talks in Geneva, said his previous comments were aimed not at Kurds in general but at the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which al-Zoubi said advocates secession from Syria and are linked to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

"Our Kurdish brothers are an essential part of the Syrian social fabric. And therefore when we talk about an essential part of the national social Syrian fabric, this means they are an original component of the Syrian people. They have what we have and we have what they have. I will work with the national opposition forces together to eliminate the corrupt and tyrannical system, in order to build a new Syria. In order to preserve national rights of our brothers the Kurds and the Syrian people with all its components," he said.

The HNC want the Geneva talks to result in a halt on attacks on civilians and a transitional governing body for Syria that does not include President Bashar al-Assad.

Al-Zoubi said Kurds would have equal rights in a future government.

"We're working on finding a democratic, pluralistic, civil rule, where all rights and duties are equal. There is no difference between one citizen and another, not in terms of nationalism or sectarianism, nor in terms of denomination, absolutely not. We must live like this in Syria, to build the real beautiful democratic Syria which can accommodate everyone. Syria will be one heart for all," he said.

The first round of Geneva talks ended on March 24. UN mediator Steffan de Mistura said he had already heard some interesting ideas from Russia and would also consult Turkish, Saudi, Jordanian and Lebanese officials before the talks resume on April 13.

The talks are part of a diplomatic push launched with U.S. and Russian support to end a conflict that has killed more than 250,000 people, created the world's worst refugee crisis and aided the rise of Islamic State.