Syrian Kurds Seek Transitional Administration, Not Independence

Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim clarifies the intent of the sought-after transitional administration for Kurds in Syria, as his party negotiates with other opposition factions on the ground.

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syrian, pyd

Aug 14, 2013

Salih Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), said to Al-Hayat yesterday, Aug. 13, on the eve of his talks with Turkish officials in Istanbul, that consultations had begun to form a Kurdish transitional administration in the northeast and north of Syria. These consultations aim to form a council comprised of around 100 members that will be in charge of civil administration in [the areas Kurds refer to as] “West Kurdistan” and drafting an election law for parliamentary elections in this region.

Muslim arrived in Istanbul on Aug 13. for talks with Turkish officials on the extent of cooperation between the two sides amid media silence, as requested by Ankara. In a telephone interview with Al-Hayat yesterday, Muslim avoided disclosing the content of these talks, indicating only that they complement the earlier round of talks on July 25. Two days ago, Muslim said that he would raise with the Turks the support they provide to Salafists in light of the parties' cooperation agreement. On the other hand, Muslim indicated that there are some signs of Turkey’s dwindling support for Salafists in exchange for the regime allowing relief activities to reach northern Syria. “Yet this is not enough,” according to him.

The Turkish side had promised Muslim to encourage the opposition Syrian National Coalition to engage in a dialogue with the Kurds, while the foreign relations committee in the National Kurdish Council held talks with the president of the National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba.

Moreover, the leader of the PYD explained that officials in the party had begun consultations for the formation of a transitional administration and not a transitional government, as reported a few days ago. These consultations began with Kurdish blocs, with each party represented by around five members, forming a council comprising between 100 and 120 members. He explained that the council would be fulfilling two missions: administering people’s affairs in West Kurdistan — including northern and northeastern Syria — and drafting an election law for parliamentary elections.

“The temporary council will be dissolved by the mere election of a parliament, from which the administrative body shall be formed to run the people’s affairs until a solution is reached in Syria,” Muslim added.

The latter pointed out that the agreement signed between the Kurdish Supreme Committee and representatives of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Ain al-Arab days ago, was a local agreement to stop the ongoing clashes in the region between Kurdish and Arab fighters. This came following battles between the forces to protect the people affiliated with the Council of Western Kurdistan and fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra.

The agreement included 12 items, which specified that everything that happened beyond the scope of the objectives of the revolution must be repudiated, since it only serves the regime. The agreement emphasized the territorial integrity of Syria and the unity of the Syrian people and considered the Kurds to be one of the components of the Syrian people. Moreover, it indicated that any proposal of division is a red line rejected by everyone; requested the withdrawal of all forces from their current positions followed by a return to their headquarters before the outbreak of the crisis; and called for the release of all military and civilian prisoners from both sides.

Muslim clarified that Jabhat al-Nusra did not approve its terms and had withdrawn from the agreement, which led to its setback on the ground and the withdrawal of its fighters from the villages where they were fighting. He said, “We seek to separate the FSA from Jabhat al-Nusra and to isolate the latter from the rest of the fighting factions and the social environment.”

Moreover, Muslim noted that preparations are ongoing for the Kurdish National Conference to be held in Erbil at the invitation of the leader of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, President Massoud Barzani, who met with the preparatory committee two days ago to discuss the matter and the formation of a committee to investigate the massacres committed against the Kurds in Syria by Islamist militants. He added that about 600 Kurdish figures from Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey will participate in the conference, in addition to 400 Arab, Turkish and European guests. He explained that the conference will start on Aug. 24.

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