Kurd-Arab council ready for ‘unconditional talks’ with Syria regime

File photo showing fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are seen in Deir Ezzor, Syria, May 1, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 June 2018

Kurd-Arab council ready for ‘unconditional talks’ with Syria regime

  • The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) is linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed militia that holds much of the country’s north and east.
  • Leading SDC member Hekmat Habib told AFP that both the council and the SDF “are serious about opening the door to dialogue” with the government.

QAMISHLI, SYRIA: The political arm of a powerful alliance of Syrian Kurd and Arab fighters announced Sunday it was ready for unconditional peace talks with the central government in Damascus.
The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) is linked to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed militia that holds much of the country’s north and east.
Those areas are outside regime control, and most are managed by autonomous Kurdish-run administrations that the regime sees as a challenge to its authority.
In a statement on Sunday, the SDC said it was committed to resolving Syria’s deadly conflict through dialogue, and would not “hesitate to agree to unconditional talks.”
“It is positive to see comments about a summit for Syrians, to pave the way to start a new page,” it said.
Leading SDC member Hekmat Habib told AFP that both the council and the SDF “are serious about opening the door to dialogue” with the government.
“With the SDF’s control of 30 percent of Syria, and the regime’s control of swathes of the country, these are the only two forces who can sit at the negotiating table and formulate a solution to the Syrian crisis,” he said.
The comments are the latest in a string of developments indicating an attempted rapprochement between the regime and Kurdish authorities, in an effort to head off a clash.
Last month, Syrian President Bashar Assad warned Kurdish forces he could use force against them, if he was not able to take their territory through talks.
Several days later, a delegation from Syria’s tolerated domestic opposition made a rare visit to Qamishli, most of which is held by Kurdish forces linked to the SDF.
A Syrian Kurdish official told AFP at the time that the delegation was trying to play a mediating role between local autonomous authorities and the regime.


Israel's Netanyahu says gives up his turn to try to form new government

Updated 7 min 39 sec ago

Israel's Netanyahu says gives up his turn to try to form new government

JERUSALEM: Israel’s president says Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ended his quest to form a new coalition — a step that pushes the country into new political uncertainty.
Netanyahu fell short of securing a 61-seat parliamentary majority in last month’s national election. But President Reuven Rivlin gave Netanyahu the first opportunity to form a government because he had more support, 55 seats, than any other candidate.
Netanyahu had hoped to form a broad “unity” government with his chief rival, former military chief Benny Gantz. But late Monday, Netanyahu announced he came up short.
Rivlin says he will now give Gantz a chance to form a government, though Gantz does not appear to have enough support either.
If Gantz fails, Israel could hold its third election in less than one year.