The leader of the main Kurdish group in northern Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has reportedly returned to Turkey for talks with Turkish officials, in his second visit in less than a month.
The Turkish government had expressed strong concerns about the imposition of a de facto autonomous region in northern Syria after the PYD, which is affiliated to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), increased its control in the area.
While underlining that there was no problem in Ankara in holding talks with PYD leader Salih Muslim, Turkish officials declined to specify an exact date for the imminent arrival of the Kurdish politician. However, Fırat news agency, which is known to have close links to the PKK, reported that Muslim has arrived in Turkey.
“There is no date requested from us by the PYD for holding the next meeting. Still, they may convey this request right after this conversation; it may be too imminent as there is no problem for us in holding talks with the PYD leader. When and if he comes to Turkey, he will be holding talks with officials from the Foreign Ministry and MİT [the National Intelligence Organization],” a Turkish diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News.
Noting that it would be better to elaborate on the agenda and the content of the meeting with Muslim only after the meeting occurs, the same diplomatic source said nobody should look for a specific item on the agenda of the meeting.
“Nobody should behave as if the PYD is the only Kurdish group in Syria that the Turkish government has been talking to. Our contacts with several Syrian Kurdish groups and parties have been going on at different levels,” the source said, while admitting that the traffic between Ankara and the PYD had become more visible in recent weeks given the clashes between Kurds and al-Qaeda-linked fighters.
The People’s Defense Units (YPG), PYD’s armed wing, has been engaged in a violent fight with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front since mid-July, gaining control of the Syrian town of Ras al-Ayn, across from the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar.
Muslim said the possible discussion topics would include humanitarian aid to northern Syria, the opening of border gates and other issues concerning the region. “We are already in dialogue with Turkey. We discussed some topics and they are still on the agenda. We will surely touch on these,” Muslim told Anadolu Agency. “Talking with the leader of the PYD is a major change in our point of view.
Parties that have interests in Syria have reviewed their policies,” he said, adding that they had no secret agenda.
Ankara has three expectations from the PYD: take a clear stance against the Syrian regime, against the PKK, and not imposing conditions, such as autonomous rule, for the future of Syria already at this stage.