1. An excerpt from, "Turkey ‘stopped helping’ al-Qaeda near Syria border: Report" Hürriyet Daily News, November 8:
Turkey has recently ceased aiding al-Qaeda-linked groups near the Syrian border, Democratic Union Party (PYD) leader Saleh Muslim has said, according to daily Taraf.That last statement is a cause for head-scratching. No independence? Then what's the point of fighting to the death? Forget the arts of deception. Be up front about what your party's long-term political, social, and strategic goals are for Syrian Kurds. There is no shame in wanting independence. And there is no point in sacrificing for anything less.
The PYD, which is known as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) wing in Syria, is fighting in northern Syrian towns against al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist groups, in particular the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
“The gangs don’t attack us from Turkey anymore, like they used to do. That is good news. We always said this and we continue saying it: We want friendly relations with Turkey. We do not want independence or a federal structure,” he was quoted as saying by the daily.
2. An excerpt from, "Does Washington have a policy toward Syria’s Kurds?" by Cengiz Çandar, Al-Monitor, November 7:
To have denied a visa to come to Washington to a Kurdish politician — who is resisting al-Qaeda forces in Syria and who has expressed, in fluent English, his ardent desire to establish relations with the Western world — just two weeks after his son was killed by al-Qaeda must have been embarrassing to Americans attending the meeting. One of them later told me: “One day we will solve this problem. Tomorrow there will be a meeting at the State Department about this.’’Correction: There is no thing such as the "Free Syrian Army." It is a political construct and a media language device that has no basis in social and military reality. Al-Qaeda represents 90 percent of the fighting forces in the Syrian opposition.
In his talk at the meeting, James Jeffrey, the former US ambassador to Ankara and Baghdad, said the US had to watch out for its allies Ankara and Erbil. He implicitly alluded that Barzani’s Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq — which supports various Syrian Kurdish groups against Turkey and the PYD — had a role in the visa denial.
He was partially right. I discussed the matter with the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, senior US officials and concerned Turkish diplomats. Nuland had received the BDP delegation and spent more time with it on developments in Syria than on the peace process in Turkey.
My impressions from various encounters suggested that the US had two basic conditions it wanted met with the PYD:
1. For the PYD to sever all contacts with the Assad regime.
2. For the PYD to be integrated with the Syrian opposition.
PYD has been constantly denying having a relationship with the Assad regime. One can guess that the first US precondition was based on advice coming from Turkey, but Americans insist that they had their own intelligence reports on the issue.
Referring to the second precondition, when I asked “which Syrian opposition” —alluding to fragmented and chaotic situation of the Syrian opposition — various officials replied, “The Free Syrian Army under command of Salim Idris.” American officials seem convinced that the PYD’s joining forces with the FSA could help bring about the end of the Damascus regime and empower the secular wing of the Syrian opposition.
3. An excerpt from, "Syria crisis: Saudi Arabia to spend millions to train new rebel force" by Ian Black, The Guardian, November 7:
Saudi Arabia is preparing to spend millions of dollars to arm and train thousands of Syrian fighters in a new national rebel force to help defeat Bashar al-Assad and act as a counterweight to increasingly powerful jihadi organisations.This is a PR campaign first and foremost. The idea that Saudi Arabia is interested in creating a national, inclusive, non-Jihadist rebel army is ludicrous. The desire is not there, and the competence is not there. The rulers of Saudi Arabia are not even capable of scratching their own backs without America. What they will create is more terrorists of the variety of al-Qaeda.
Syrian, Arab and western sources say the intensifying Saudi effort is focused on Jaysh al-Islam (the Army of Islam or JAI), created in late September by a union of 43 Syrian groups. It is being billed as a significant new player on the fragmented rebel scene.
The force excludes al-Qaida affiliates such as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra, but embraces more non-jihadi Islamist and Salafi units.
According to one unconfirmed report the JAI will be trained with Pakistani help, and estimates of its likely strength range from 5,000 to more than 50,000. But diplomats and experts warned on Thursday that there are serious doubts about its prospects as well as fears of "blowback" by extremists returning from Syria.