One of the important questions surrounding the conference on the future of Syria, coming up in a week is the plight of the Kurds, and how this could affect regional map-lines.
Two million Syrian Kurds are concentrated in the north of the country. Many fled the fighting and sought refuge in Iraq and Turkey. In Turkey, they have demonstrated regularly at its border with Syria, demanding solidarity with their counterparts still in Syria.
The Chairman of the Peace and Democracy Party representing the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party in parliament (Turkey brands the PKK a terrorist group), told our correspondent the Kurds of Syria want to be at the Geneva conference.
Demirtas said: “All the Kurdish groups decided to act together after discussions among themselves. They want to join the meetings with a separate delegation composed of representatives of all Kurdish groups. If this is not possible, they want the Syrian opposition to recognise and guarantee their rights as Kurds so that they can attend the conference within the Syrian opposition. If the Syrian opposition does not guarantee Kurdish rights or if the Kurds are not represented as a separate delegation, it makes no sense to attend Geneva.”
Syria’s Kurds are divided and geographically separated into three regions. Since the start of the fighting in Syria they have struggled to promote their interests, some with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and others with rebel forces. Outside sceptics says it’s hard for them to speak with a single voice. Their only common enemy is radical Islamists in the region who are at odds with their separatist ideas.
Demirtas said: “The Kurdish region in Syria is entirely surrounded and besieged by radical militants belonging to Al Qaeda and Al Nusra. The Turkish side has also been blocked since Turkey closed its border posts. Therefore, the Kurdish region is isolated and faces an embargo. We Kurds are collecting aid by ourselves and trying to get it there with great difficulty. International aid never reaches that place. Al Qaeda and other groups prevent aid from reaching the Kurdish region, because they are fighting against the Kurds.”