Former Turkish FM calls on Turkey to negotiate with Kurds rather than attack them

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Kurdish fighters of the YPG at the top of Mount Abdulaziz after expelling ISIS militants from the area, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Photo: ARA News

ARA News

Turkey’s ex-foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, urged his government on Tuesday to negotiate with the Syrian Kurds, rather than launching an offensive against them.

Yakis, who also helped found the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), advised Ankara that the looming “military operation in Afrin is not a remedy for the threat that Turkey perceives.” He reasoned that the attack would only provide temporary relief, likening it to using a painkiller to treat a chronic disease.

“The best course would be to negotiate a deal with the Syrian Kurds, persuade them not to attempt to change the ethnic composition of the region, and establish — preferably in cooperation with the Syrian government — a multi-ethnic, multi-confessional democratic administration,” Yakis wrote in a column for Arab News.

“That would solve Turkey’s problem with the Syrian Kurds; it would facilitate a solution to Turkey’s problem with its own Kurds; it may even prove a breakthrough in the deadlock in relations between Turkey and Syria,” he concluded.

Sihanok Dibo, a senior official in the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that he welcomed Yakis’ remarks, adding that his openness to the Kurdish project was both “logical and practical.”

In an exclusive interview with ARA News, the Kurdish leader remained cautious, saying that his party “doesn’t believe that Turkey today is ready to hold a peace process with the Kurds in Turkey or the Kurds in Syria.”

“Turkey’s parliament issued a decision a few days ago to prevent and hold accountable anyone who uses the word Kurdistan,” he continued. “Turkey sees neighboring countries as its backyard, acting in accordance with an Ottoman mentality.”

“For our part …  the primary objective and foundation lies in achieving security and stability in the whole region and consolidating the principle of coexistence,” Dibo continued.

“Everyone knows that the Kurds and the People’s Protection Units did not fire a single shot at Turkey,” he said. “In the interest of all and in preparation for the aspirations of our peoples it is not too late to open an honorable page worthy of the history of the region and to create a better future.”

Turkey’s former council-general, Aydin Selcen, has also argued that the “Syrian Kurds need to find a balancing act.” He proposed that with Moscow acting as a guarantor, and with a new constitution enacted, the Kurds might be willing to cede Afrin to Damascus “– at least on paper.”

Selcen, who now works as a columnist for the Duvar news agency, explained that “Ankara, saw an opportunity when tensions between Russia and US ran high.” According to Selcen, the Turkish government then thought that it could try “a limited enlargement strategy for the Euphrates Shield pocket, which would increase pressure on Syria’s Kurds and fully isolate Afrin.”

However, the former diplomat told ARA News that it seemed increasingly unlikely that Russia would give Turkey the green light. “This move for the moment seems to have backfired as the Russian Federation and the US found a renewed modus vivendi in the background.”

“Without Russia extracting political approval from Damascus and giving the military go-ahead a Turkish move towards Afrin –even if a limited to targeting Tel Rifat and Minnaq Airbase– remains impossible,” Selcen explained.

“At the end of the day, depending on the new presidential race … and the repercussions of Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence referendum, Ankara may change the sequence and use PYD/YPG/YPJ dominated Rojava as a quid pro quo against the cessation of hostilities,” he continued.

Concluding, Selecen told ARA news that while he can see avenues for cooperation between Ankara and Qamishli, such a deal “remains a very, very distant possibility for the time being.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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