The PYD is the most powerful political party in Rojava but has so far abstained from allying with opposition forces. While it is openly opposed to Assad's
Ba'athist regime--which stripped many Kurds of their rights--and supports his downfall, some Kurds also fought against various opposition groups. A handful
of well-trained militia have, for the most part, been successful in keeping both sides of the conflict out of Rojava, but not without opposition forces
labeling them as sympathizers of Assad.
The negotiations on Wednesday seemed both amicable and productive compared to this mixed past. "The meeting was to [get to] know each other better," said
Muslim in an interview with Radio Sawa afterwards, adding that the goals of the meeting were for, "[President of the Syrian National Coalition] Moaz
al-Khateib to listen to us, to listen to what we say directly, who we are, and who we represent."
These meetings come as much of the anti-Assad Coalition (excluding the Syrian National Council) has reversed their initial plan to boycott the Friends
of Syria conference, which started Thursday. The conference will include an appearance by Secretary of State John Kerry, who
announced an increase in aid to opposition forces. Whether or not the PYD joining the Coalition would mean any American aid would go to Rojava as well as the front
lines remains to be seen.
Before any such alliance can be brokered, however, Muslim insists that Arab leaders recognize the legitimacy of the Kurds.
"We are not satisfied with the language used by the Syrian National Council [a member group of the Coalition] and we are trying to help the Syrian National
Coalition to avoid the same mistakes...Our priority is that we get a recognition for our existence in the constitution or at least written on a paper as a
Kurdish people and as a part of the Syrian people."
This isn't the first time that members of the opposition have met with Kurdish leaders. Last summer leaders of the Syrian National Council met with the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, Mossoud Barzani, the Turkish
Foreign Minister, and members of the Kurdish National Council. The PYD did not attend those negotiations.
In terms of military cooperation, Muslim points out that the Arab leaders have already brokered a deal with the PYD regarding the liberation of cities with
mixed populations of Kurds and Arabs. But this doesn't mean that an arrangement with the Coalition would see Kurdish militias in Damascus: "Kurdish
fighters won't go to Damascus to fight," Muslim said, quipping, "If each fighter liberated his city, Syria would be liberated by now."
Negotiations between Syrian Arabs and Kurds are a long way from over, but if Cairo is any indication, there is a place in Syria for discussion between the
nations' two biggest ethnic groups as they both work toward the goal of a unified Syria.
"[W]e are away from drawing new borders in Syria or between us or the Arabs," said Muslim when asked about the possibility of an autonomous zone for Kurds
in Syria like the one in Iraq, "[W]e didn't demand the partition now or in the past."
Whether or not a deal can be reached before the end of the conflict remains to be seen.
Zaid Benjamin of Radio Sawa contributed reporting to this article.