PYD ally Manna won't join Syria talks without his 'friends'

PYD linked Syrian Democratic Council’s co-leader Haytham Manna says he will not join peace talks in Geneva unless Ilham Ahmed and PYD leader Saleh Muslim are invited for negotiations

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, shakes hands with Haytham Manna.

Haytham Manna, the co-leader of the Syrian Democratic Council, said on Wednesday that he would not attend the Syria peace talks in Geneva if Ilham Ahmed and PYD leader Saleh Muslim do not receive invitations to participate.

Syrian Democratic Council is the political representative of the newly formed Syrian Democratic Forces, an armed group led by PYD operating in northern Syria.

"I'll go with my friends or not [at all]. There is no compromise in this question," he said, a day after the UN envoy to Syria Staffan De Mistura sent out an invitation to oppositions to join the talks, excluding the two.

Inclusion of PYD in the opposition side became a matter of controversy, as many opposition factions and international actors, led by Turkey rejected the idea saying that the group is collaborating with Bashar al Assad’s regime.

Russia, one of the biggest allies of Assad, has been pushing for inclusion of PYD in the talks as an opposition group.

Deputy Chief of the Opposition Delegation George Sabra said last week that the opposition delegation is chosen by only the opposition council and countries such as Russia had no right to oppose and dictate which opposition groups will be present at the talks.

Sabra underlined that PYD should be classified as on the side of the regime, if they are to join negotiations.

"The PYD, which cooperates with the [Syrian] regime, cannot represent the rightful fight of the Syrian people," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Tuesday.

Turkey considers PYD as the PKK's Syrian extension, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the EU, and the US.

Saleh Muslim of the PYD stands at a poster that belongs to Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday that PYD representatives will not be invited to the talks in Geneva, which are expected to begin on Friday

Laurent Fabius mentioned the United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura informed him the PYD in northern Syrian would not join the negotiations.

"The PYD group was causing the most problems, and Mr de Mistura told me he had not sent them an invitation letter," Laurent Fabius told France Culture radio.

France has been playing a key role to coordinate opposition forces fighting against the Syrian regime and has been giving advice to them on how to be ready for the talks.

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, also announced earlier on Tuesday that Turkey will boycott the Syrian peace talks if PKK’s Syrian extension PYD is invited to the latest Geneva meeting, organised by the United Nations.

“The PYD is a terrorist organisation and has no place with the opposition at the negotiating table,” Cavusoglu said.

"Under what title will PYD sit at the table? Could a terrorist organisation be a representative of [Syrian Kurdish] people? Will Al Qaeda and Nusra Front be able to take a seat at the table?" Cavusoglu asked.

Members of the High Negotiations Committee, which was constructed in the Saudi capital last month in an attempt to unite Syria's opposition, met on Wednesday in Riyadh for a second day on a final decision for the talks.

The Committee persists on just sole opposition delegation must attend the talks and is calling for "clarifications" following the UN sent invitations to other regime opponents.

Committee spokesman Monzer Makhous indicated that the talks had restarted and could last all day but rejected to make a remark.

TRTWorld and agencies