Syria, Turkey trash talks of separate Kurdish state

17 March 2016

The Syrian government on Wednesday dismissed the possibility that the Syrian Kurds will declare a federal region in northern Syria saying that creating any kind of divisions among the Syrians will be ''a total failure''.

''The basic references for the indirect talks prohibit raising such scenarios [of discussing the possibility of a breakup of Syria]. What we are talking about here is how to keep the unity of Syria, how to respect the unity of Syria, the independence of Syria, the territorial integrity of Syria, the unity of Syria [in terms of the] land and people,'' Bashar Jaafari, Syria's current ambassador to the UN in New York and the Syrian government's chief negotiator, told reporters in Geneva.

 ''The Syrian Kurds are an important component of the Syrian people. We are proud of them, they are proud of us. We have established our state together for centuries. So betting on creating any kind of divisions among the Syrians will be a total failure,'' Jaafari added.

A spokesperson for the Democratic Union Party - a powerful Syrian Kurdish political party - had earlier today told The Associated Press that they planned to declare a separate, federal region for the Kurds.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an address on Wednesday also dismissed the idea of Kurdish self-rule in Turkey, though Turkey and the Syrian government are at the opposite ends of the table in this conflict. Erdogan further said that Russian and US weapons are landing with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist organisation.

To complicate matters, though the US shares common interests with Turkey in toppling the Assad regime, it considers the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) - which Ankara considers an affiliate of PKK - an ally given their proficiency to counter the Islamic State.

Jaafari further said that the discussions on Friday with the UN deputy special envoy for Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, were on the format of the talks and not the substance.

The ambassador said that they ''examined the format'' of the talks to ensure the participation of the broadest spectrum of Syrians in accordance with UNSC resolution 2254.

The UN is holding ''proximity talks''- indirect negotiations where UN talks separately to the Syrian government, the different opposition groups and other parties- that began on Monday in Geneva. The Saudi- and Western-backed opposition group called the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is the opposition's main negotiating group, led by Mohammed Alloush, apart from other opposition groups.

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