Middle East

Syrian Kurds criticize UN envoy over constitution committee

BEIRUT (AP) — An official with the main Kurdish-led force in Syria said Sunday the ethnic minority is not represented on the committee formed earlier this month that will be in charge of drafting a new constitution.

The Syrian government does not trust the main Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, and its political wing because of its links to the US. Turkey, a main backer of the opposition, sees the YPG as part of a Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.

The tweet of Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces — of which the YPG is the main component — came after U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen spoke to Al-Jazeera TV. Pedersen said that although the main Kurdish militia in Syria is not represented, “it is important for me to emphasize that of course also we have Kurdish representatives on the committee.”

Bali tweeted that Pedersen must know “that having a couple of Kurds” from northeast Syria who are allied with the Syrian government or the opposition doesn’t mean Kurds are represented in the committee.

He added that the Kurdish-led administration in northeast Syria was “totally left out of this process.”

At a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. This was a key step toward elections and a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, which has killed over 400,000 people.

There was early agreement on 50-member lists from the Syrian government and the opposition. But it has taken nearly 20 months to agree on the list the United Nations was authorized to put together representing experts, independents, tribal leaders and women, mainly because of objections from the Syrian government.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced earlier this month a deal was reached on a committee for a new constitution.

The committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting at the end of October.

FILE PHOTO: Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) run across a street in Raqqa, Syria July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

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