WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the second year, the United States has denied a controversial Kurdish leader a visa to speak at an event at the prestigious National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“The visa, it was actually refused,” Salih Muslim said in a video.
Muslim, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, was invited to speak at an event in Washington, D.C. on May 30 entitled ‘The Other Face of Kurdistan,’ which will explore press freedoms in the Middle East among other topics.
“They told me about two months ago that it is refused and we are just waiting for a strong man to invite me directly,” the PYD leader explained. “So it’s a difficult situation.”
Last April, Muslim was scheduled to visit the famed forum for a dialogue entitled ‘Co-Existence Through Democratic Autonomy and Self-Governance: The Kurdish Case.’ He participated via Skype after also being denied a visa.
The co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Salahattin Demirtas, came to the National Press Club event last year in Washington where he gave a passionate speech talking about a path to peace for Kurdish extremists in Turkey.
Demirtas also forewarned about disagreements between the Turkish military and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). On July 16, the Turkish government withstood an unsuccessful coup d’état attempt which left 249 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.
“Otherwise in some ways I think there are some lobbies working against the visas and even the relations between us and the United States.” Muslim claimed. “They don’t want us to come together and talk face to face.”
Muslim, as the PYD’s leader which Turkey believes is linked to the terrorist-listed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), explained that given his circumstances the visa process will need to be facilitated directly — likely by a US government official or member of congress.
“I think it depends on a brave man who just can take me with him to the United States with a direct invitation for me,” he said.
The PYD is the political wing of the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), whose fighters are vital ground partners within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The multi-ethnic SDF and Syrian Arab Coalition supported by the US-led international coalition recently retook the strategic Tabqa dam, airport and city and are poised to launch an imminent assault on the de facto ISIS capital city of Raqqa in Syria.