“He [President Putin] talked about the negative view of Assad against the PYD-YPG. He mentioned that he [Assad] does not want the PYD-YPG on the [negotiation] table either. This is not so surprising,” Erdogan told reporters after his visit to the Russian resort of Sochi. PYD is the political wing of the YPG.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region(Rudaw) – Following a summit in Russia on the Syria crisis Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he does not rule out future cooperation with Damascus against the Kurdish authorities in Syrian Kurdistan-Rojava.
Erdogan said his government did not have any problems with Kurds, but with what he labelled terrorist organizations such as YPG, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad does not even believe in the existence of Kurds.
“Turkey’s issue is not with Kurds, but with terrorist organizations. Whatever happens tomorrow is based on the circumstances. It is not appropriate to have an understanding of saying ‘no way at all.’ The doors of politics are always open until the last moment,” Erdogan said about future cooperation with Syria, Hurriyet News reported.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria where they have been the primary fighters against ISIS.
Turkey considers the YPG and the SDF as extensions of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has waged decades-long armed insurgency against Turkey. The YPG denies any organic links with the PKK.
Apart from Turkey, no other country, including Syria, labels the YPG as a terrorist organization.
Erdogan claimed that Assad does not want the YPG to be part of any peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war that began in 2011.
The Kurdish authorities in Syria who control about a quarter of the country have repeatedly said that peace talks will not succeed without their participation.
Both Russia and Turkey have said a final list is being prepared to invite the Syrian regime and the opposition for the Moscow-backed Sochi talks. Ankara says it has informed both Russian and Iran-two countries present at the summit-that it does not want the YPG to be invited under any name.
No date has been set for the Sochi talks. The Kurds in the past expressed their willingness to take part, if invited.
Asked about a possibility for a future cooperation with the Syrian regime against the YPG, Erdogan said that the two do not have the same view: Ankara is against the YPG, but does not have any problems with Kurds “whereas the Syrian regime does not even accept the existence of Kurds.”
He, however, did not rule out cooperation between Ankara and Damascus in this regard, adding that it is wrong to say there is currently indirect dialogue between his country and its neighbor Syria.
The Saudi-backed High Negotiation Commision that has close ties with Turkey stated on Thursday that it calls for direct and unconditional talks with the Syrian regime as part of the UN-backed Genval talks scheduled for next week. It did not set the condition for Assad to leave, but added that a successful political transition with Assad in place is not possible.