Negotiations led by Syrian opposition member Michel Kilo between Kurdish fighters in Ras al-Ain, near the Turkish border, and Free Syrian Army (FSA) leadership have failed to reach a settlement, according to Kurdish parties and websites.
Kilo, along with other representatives of the National Coalition to Protect the Civil Peace, is mediating between the parties in order to end the fighting. This move has been described as “a step forward towards national reconciliation” between the two parties.
At the beginning of his meeting with the Kurdish Supreme Committee on Feb. 5, Kilo said “our visit is to resolve the crisis and a major problem,” a reference to the ongoing clashes that have raged for months between Kurdish fighters, FSA groups and other battalions of the Ghuraba al-Sham, who are said to be close to al-Qaeda.
According to Kurdish sources, Kilo said that “there are many international and regional powers that do not want a democratic or Islamic and not even a Kurdish regime. All they seek is a regime that serves their interests. Should this situation drag on, the revolution that millions of people are pinning their hopes on will morph into a civil war, as is the case in Lebanon. There is no sign of the Baathist regime in Ras al-Ain, but it will still not be the source of its downfall,” he added.
Ahmed Suleiman, spokesman for the Kurdish Committee, said that the ongoing opposition support for the clashes in Ras al-Ain will “veer the Syrian revolution off course and shatter Syrian society. The only beneficiary of all this is the Baathist regime. The recent events in Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain) serve only the regime’s interests.”
According to the same sources affiliated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS) and Qamishli News, a Syrian-Kurdish website, the Supreme Kurdish Committee — the highest Kurdish body — rejected the FSA’s demands. The FSA had demanded that it run the entire city and its border outlets, and declared full control over them.
The Revolutionary Military Council in Hasaka province, claiming affiliation with the FSA, demanded that the Kurdish flag be lowered and that the city be handed over to the opposing Syrian National Coalition, as a prerequisite for maintaining the fragile truce with those whom the FSA labeled Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.
As a condition of the truce, the Kurdish side would be required to recognize the coalition, as “it is the sole party concerned with managing the country politically and administratively. The PKK fighters are also required to withdraw from Ras al-Ain back to their barricades in the regions from which they came. The FSA shall remain in the city, since the Revolutionary Military Council is considered as the legitimate representative of Ras al-Ain and its surroundings. A local council is to be formed including all the city’s different groups and factions.”
Moreover, “the FSA is not to confront any of the people in Ras al-Ain and its countryside. The FSA will be, in turn, responsible for securing the passage of people and goods in Hasakah areas, which are under its control. It will also control the border crossing in the region. Finally, the flag of independence shall be the only flag to be raised in squares and streets in Hasakah province, which suggests that Kurds must remove their own flags that have been place on rooftops in Qamishli since the beginning of the crisis.”
The Kurdish committee rejected these conditions, according to the same sources. The Kurdish side had different prerequisites for a permanent cease-fire. The Kurdish committee requested “to be involved in managing the region’s affairs, along with other groups, put an end to armed demonstrations through the withdrawal of all battalions affiliated with both sides from the region. Kurds also demanded the formation of a joint administration, made up of the different factions in Ras al-Ain, securing the transfer of people and goods from and to the city, as well as compensating the victims of the clashes.”
In this context, Kurdish news sites said that “a border crossing was opened yesterday between Syria and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, in order to stimulate economic activities in the Syrian Kurdish areas with the Iraqi Kurdish areas.” The Supreme Kurdish Committee has monitored the opening of the Fish Khabur-Simalka gateway.
The spokesman for the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC), Shalal Kido, said that “the Syrian-Kurdish Supreme Committee has decided to open the Fish Khabur-Simalka border crossing to serve as a commercial gateway between Syria and the Kurdistan region.”
He added that “the coming days will witness a temporary military presence to connect both sides of the Tigris River, which runs along the Syria-Iraq border in the region, in order to facilitate the transport of goods between the two sides.”
“The crossing management on the Syrian side has prepared a list of symbolic custom duties on commercial goods that will enter through the gateway. The financial resources will be transferred to the Kurdish Supreme Committee, which is leading the Kurdish movement in Kurdish and Syrian cities and is the legitimate group responsible for the crossing on the Syrian side," he said.