Sidelined Syrian Kurds Take Geneva II Protest to Twitter

A hashtag calling for a Kurdish delegation at next week’s peace talks became the top trend on Twitter on Thursday and early Friday.

UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – Activists frustrated with the marginalization of Syrian Kurdish delegates at the upcoming Geneva II peace talks took to Twitter this week, briefly making “#KurdsMustBeInGeneva2″ the number one trending topic worldwide on the social network.

A screenshot captured Friday afternoon in New York shows the hashtag as the second most popular worldwide

In recent months, Syrian Kurds have engaged in fierce battles with both Assad forces and, increasingly, extremist opposition groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in an effort to retain control over their ethnic homeland.

But instead of being invited to the Geneva II conference, Syria’s Kurds were asked to fold their delegation into the single opposition group that was designed to feature the Istanbul-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

That decision threatens the viability of any political solution to the three-year civil war, Kurdish policy analyst Mutlu Civiroglu told TRNS by telephone

“In the future, if there is going to be an agreement, how will they implement this agreement in the Kurdistan region of Syria? If Kurds are not there, Geneva is not an agreement.”

Civiroglu described Syrian Kurdistan’s diverse government as a model of compromise for the war-torn country, a vision not articulated by the Assad government, the politically isolated SNC, or the wide array of Islamic militants flooding the battlefield.

The model in Western Kurdistan is “a great example of a future Syria,” Civiroglu said. “The administration is not only composed of Kurds, but Arabs, Armenians and religious minorities.”

While 2013 saw a sharp increase in attacks against religious minorities, including Syria’s Christian population, Civiroglu stressed that Syrian Kurdistan was not characterized by such violence.

In the rest of Syria, “people are beheaded, churches are demolished,” he said. “Not in Syrian Kurdistan.”

With the National Coordination Body (NCB)’s decision on Thursday to skip Geneva II, the very presence of any meaningful opposition groups at the peace conference appears to hinge on the SNC’s decision.

But regardless of the SNC’s final vote on attending Geneva II, the group remains plagued by internal disagreement, drawing into question its political influence and relevance to combatants.

“Meanwhile, the real power on the ground is not recognized.” Civiroglu said.

Asked who started the #KurdsMustBeInGeneva2 hashtag and helped it become the top trend among the social network’s roughly 250 million active users, Civiroglu denied knowing the movement’s creator, saying it was “just the Kurds.”