Date: June 12, 2020
Author: Karwan Faidhi Dri

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish opposition and ruling parties in northeast Syria are to begin a new round of unity talks in the “coming days” according to a member of the opposition delegation. 

Mazloum Abdi, general commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), tweeted on May 29 that the first stage of talks between the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (ENKS) ended  “successfully.” 

However, the ENKS and PYD have not met since then, making some speculate that new meetings may not take place after Aldar Xelil, head of the PYD delegation told party media that they are not willing to share political and military power with the ENKS.

Xelil’s comments were slammed by Sulaiman Oso, a member of the ENKS leadership, who said that they want a 50/50 share in running the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

However, Oso, who is also a member of the ENKS delegation, told Rudaw English late Tuesday that they have spoken to William Roebuck, the Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and top US diplomat in northern Syria who mediates the talks, and decided to resume in the “coming days.”

“New meetings will take place in the coming days,” said Oso, adding that they do not have direct contact with the PYD but instead communicate through American mediators.

He also said that there were “some issues” that prevented the two parties from resuming talks, such as Xelil’s comments. 

“The comments from Aldar [Xelil] were bitter and a message attempting to end the talks. We contacted the Americans and the SDF to tell them that these comments do not serve the  purpose of the talks,” said Oso.

Rudaw English talked to three members of the PYD delegation – Salih Gado, Nasraddin Ibrahim and Jamal Sheikh Baqi – who all said that they do not have any issue with the resumption of talks but they are “waiting for a response from the ENKS.” 

The three officials, who are from other Kurdish parties but have formed the Kurdish National Alliance (HNKS) with the PYD, claimed that the ENKS has delayed meetings a number of times for “unclear” reasons.

“We do not have an issue to resume. Roebuck promised two to three times [to resume talks] but nothing happened and the meetings were postponed. This means that the ENKS is not ready,” Sheikh Baqi claimed. 

Salih Muslim, member of the PYD leadership, also said on Saturday that “we are waiting for the ENKS’ response to resume talks.” 

However, Oso denied this.

“We have not postponed the meetings. We are in contact with the US,”  he told Rudaw English.

The ENKS and PYD have been at odds for several years, with the ENKS accusing the PYD of being unwilling to share power in northeast Syria, known to Kurds as Rojava. 

The talks first took place in Duhok in 2014. Initiated by Masoud Barzani, then president of the Kurdistan Region and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the initial talks ended in a deal which was never implemented.

The first stage of the new talks were initiated by Abdi in October after Turkey launched a military operation against Kurdish forces in Rojava.