The arrest in a Prague hotel of former Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) leader Saleh Muslim Muhammad is a test case. Its outcome will establish the extent to which the central role Syrian Kurds have played in the fight against Islamic State has accrued some broader political legitimacy for their leadership and organizations.
Czech authorities arrested Muslim over the weekend after a Turkish participant at a conference in Prague took a photograph of him that was published by the Milliyetnewspaper.
Turkish authorities had issued an Interpol “red notice” for Muslim after his alleged role in a bombing in Ankara in 2016 in which 29 people were killed. The Turkish government, which may have been aware of the pictures before their publication in Milliyet, contacted the Czechs, who arrested Saleh Muslim last Saturday, a day before he had been due to leave the Czech Republic.
The former PYD leader, who remains among the most prominent and influential of Syrian Kurdish leaders, is set to appear before a Czech court this week. The Turks are seeking his extradition. If extradited, he will with certainty be convicted and might face incarceration for the rest of his life. Kurdish media are calling his capture the Turks’ most significant apprehension of a Kurdish leader since PKK founder and leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1998…