The Syrian brutal civil war that is about to enter its sixth year maycontinue to claim more victims, not because of Syrian actors, but, again, because of its sectarian, authoritarian neighbors. Recent events expose the dangerous role played by the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the Turkish president in prolonging the crisis and unveil their reliance on violent extremists to pursue their destructive geopolitical agenda. It is now evident which country is willing to support or tolerate which terrorist organization to preserve its relevance in regional politics. Turkey’s authoritarian president, Recep T. Erdogan admitted that he prefers ISIL controlling Syria’s northern borders over Syrian Kurdish protection units. He does not distinguish between PYD, YPG, and the PKK; but he distinguishes between al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIL. Moreover, he refuses to legally identify ISIL as a terrorist entity, but eager to extend the label to PYD and YPG.
The Saudi rulers are insisting on including Jaysh al-Islam and similar Salafi armed groups in the opposition group that will talk with the Syrian government and are denying other Syrian opposition groups a place at the negotiating table.
The Syrian opposition council backed by Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it will not attend the negotiations in Geneva with the government if a third group takes part, a reference to a Russian bid to widen the opposition team. Source
In his confidential Jan. 18 briefing to the U.N. Security Council, de Mistura said Riyadh is complicating his efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict by trying to tightly control which opposition groups will be allowed to participate in the negotiations. Source
Turkey, too, will not allow Kurdish groups from northern Syria to take part in peace talks alongside other groups opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the country’s Prime Minister has warned.
Ahmet Davutoglu said the group known as People’s Defence Units or YPG, seen by the US as one of the most effective fighting forces against Isis, was too closely linked to the outlawed PKK terrorist group for it to join talks on the opposition side. It represented a “direct threat to Turkey”, he told reporters during a two-day visit to London which concluded on Tuesday. source