Divisions Emerge Among Syrian Kurdish Groups

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Salih Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, claims the Kurdish National Council does not speak for all Kurds.

The leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, told Al-Hayat on Sept. 18 that he is willing to cooperate with the interim government of the Syrian opposition that Ahmad Tohme is working to form. Moreover, he said that he is not concerned with the agreement signed between the Syrian National Coalition and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and that he is "not bound by it or responsible for its actual repercussions.”

The National Coalition’s general assembly had approved an agreement with the KNC that had previously been approved by the Kurdish entity and stipulated, “The constitutional recognition of the national Kurdish identity, considering the Kurdish issue an integral part of the general national issue, the recognition of the national rights of the Kurdish people in the framework of the unity of Syria’s people and lands, and the adoption of a system of administrative decentralization to enhance the privileges of the local authorities.”

Moreover, the agreement included a provision that stated, “Just as the great Syrian revolution adopted the independence flag as a symbol of sovereignty, we are adopting the name of the state in the independence era.” Therefore, the country will be called the “Republic of Syria,” instead of the “Syrian Arab Republic.” The minimum for Kurdish representation was set at 14 members.

The KNC includes 15 political parties, while the Council of West Kurdistan includes groups like the Democratic Union and the People’s Protection Units. The parties formed the Supreme Kurdish Council on July 11, 2012.

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Muslim stated, “We agreed that any negotiation with the coalition should be done on behalf of the Supreme Kurdish Council. However, they are trying to meet with the National Coalition alone to topple the Supreme Kurdish Council. For this reason, we are not for the agreement [between the KNC and the National Coalition], which does not represent Kurds since it was not concluded through the Supreme Kurdish Council.”

Muslim proceeded to say that he had held talks with officials in the National Coalition and told them, “You are not on the same page, and you have not taken a unified stance regarding Jabhat al-Nusra, which is attacking Kurds. When we found out that the National Coalition was not controlling the Islamist militants on the field, we wondered why we should agree with it.”

Moreover, he considered the National Coalition’s approval of the agreement with the KNC illegitimate because it did not receive enough votes. The National Coalition had also reported in a statement that the general assembly, which includes 114 members, “approved the political document that was agreed upon with the KNC, and the coalition will address a letter to the council to nominate its three main representatives to attend the upcoming meeting of the general assembly. This should pave the way for the vote on the remaining agreed upon list tentatively.”  

On that note, Muslim clarified that he insists on the participation of Kurds in an independent delegation under the banner of the Supreme Kurdish Council during the Geneva II conference. However, he refused to be part of a delegation under the National Coalition because “it is a duty to recognize the rights of Kurds.” He indicated that his party and the Peoples’ Protection Units, which include thousands of militants, are ready to “cooperate with the interim government.” He also noted that there is a possibility for cooperation between the interim government and the interim administration that he is working on forming to provide for the people in north and northeastern Syria

Moreover, Muslim stated that clashes are ongoing between the Peoples’ Protection Units, the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra in the northern part of the country. He pointed out that radical militants are receiving support from Turkish parties at a time when Turkey has decided to open the border of Ayn al-Arab (Kobanê). He said, “There is double politics here. On one hand, the entry of humanitarian aid is being facilitated, as we agreed during my two previous visits, while on the other hand, some parties are helping radical militants.”  

Muslim added that Kurdish militants are facing pressure from the Syrian regimes' forces and radical militants in the Sheikh Maqsoud and al-Ashrafia neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo. Further, he warned against the risk of massacres against Kurds in both neighborhoods.

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Found in: syrian, supreme kurdish council, geneva, aleppo
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