Mar 05 2018

Turkey requests Germany arrest Kurdish leader Muslim

Turkey requested Germany detain Salih Muslim, the former co-leader of the Syrian pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Ankara asked Germany to arrest Muslim and extradite him to Turkey, the Turkish government said, according to Hürriyet newspaper.

Muslim was arrested briefly in Prague on Turkey’s request a week ago before being released, sparking outrage from Ankara. He then attended a rally in Berlin at the weekend, speaking to a crowd who waved Kurdish flags and pictures of Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish leader imprisoned in Turkey.

The PYD is the political wing of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey launched a military incursion into Syria’s Afrin region on Jan. 20 to battle the YPG, which it says is indistinguishable from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an autonomy-seeking militant group based in Turkey and led by Ocalan. The YPG forms part of a Kurdish-Arab group that has fought alongside the U.S. military against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government had held talks with Muslim four years ago on how Syria's Kurds and Turkey could cooperate concerning the future of Syria. Turkey has since broken off those negotiations and a peace process with the PKK. It has arrested hundreds of Kurdish politicians and activists, including parliamentarians, accusing them of supporting terrorism since Erdoğan's government temporarily lost its parliamentary majority in early 2015 before an election re-run.