The PKK’s Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) should be party to any Syrian peace talks, a U.S. official said Tuesday.
“This process has to include all Syrians, and that includes the Syrian Kurds,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
Asked explicitly if the PYD should be at the table, Toner replied, “At some point they have to be part of this process”.
Turkey considers the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, to be the Syrian off-shoots of the PKK. The U.S., EU and Turkey have designated the PKK as a terror group.
But Washington has refrained from following suit on the PYD and People’s Protection Units (YPG) which it works with in the anti-Daesh fight under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), much to Ankara’s ire.
Toner said that the U.S. is “mindful of Turkey’s concerns about this group.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Turkish officials have consistently highlighted that fighting the Daesh terrorist organization with other terror organizations (such as the PYD and YPG) is wrong and could have negative consequences in the future.
Turkey has voiced concerns over the YPG moving into Manbij, which has a predominantly Arab population. Turkey has also
warned against YPG’s aim of making demographic changes in areas captured from Daesh.
Meanwhile, the YPG presence has become a matter of political friction between Ankara and Washington. Ankara argues that U.S. support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), predominantly led by the YPG, is eventually transferred to the PKK and ultimately used against Turkey.
Still, Toner insisted that the PYD’s inclusion is vital to the long-sought political resolution to Syria’s nearly six-year conflict.
“Their voice will need to be heard in any kind of long term solution to the situation in Syria. And it’s in that spirit that we say that if there’s going to be a political process that leads to a political transition, a more Democratic one, it’s going to have to be accepted by all of the Syrian people,” he said.
Negotiations to reach a political resolution to the Syrian war are due to begin in the Kazakh capital Astana on Jan. 23.