Kurdish self-rule in Syria: Disputes and fears

30-11-2013

 

ARA News

Qamishli, Syria− The announcement of a Transitional Administration (self-rule) in the Kurdish areas in northern Syria resulted in a wide wave of critique. While many supported the step, others criticized it and considered the proposal as a try to monopolize power in the region by some political forces −basically the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). However, the PYD emphasized that the Administration will include representatives of different components in the region. 

In an unprecedented incident, Qamishli, a city where Kurds constitute a majority and from which the declaration of a Transitional Administration of the northern areas was issued, saw a pro-Assad demonstration organized by members of the ruling Baath Party last week. 

Although most of the neighbourhoods of Qamishli/Qamishlo is under the control of Kurdish armed forces loyal to the PYD, pro-Assad demonstrators have freely taken to the street and raised pro-regime banners. 

In the course of the recent developments in Syria’s Kurdish areas, politicians, activists and observers revealed to ARA News various opinions and perspectives. 

Rezan Sheikhmous, head of the Relations Office in the Kurdish Future Movement (al-Mustaqbal), said that what is happening in Qamishli, like the unprecedented visits by regime’s officials and pro-Assad demonstrations, “indicate a clear cooperation between the PYD-linked forces and the regime.

“The governor of Hasakah Province has even delivered a speech blessing what he called the ‘liberation of the region from terrorists’, which entails a regime’s support to all activities of the PYD’s armed wings, while the latter denies any relations with the Assad regime,” Sheikhmous told ARA News. “On the other hand, Kurdish civil activists are being arrested by the Assad forces, and we hear no comment from the PYD which is supposed to protect the Kurds.”

According to Sheikhmous, a number of pro-Assad security forces withdrew from the Kurdish region in Syria, but others remained “and are cooperating with the PYD armed groups to rule the region”. 

“The PYD says that they have liberated many Kurdish areas, while liberation should include a withdrawal of both Islamist groups and the regime forces. The party is misleading people by a fake propaganda, and must bear the consequences after the downfall of the regime,” he added. 

Sheikhmous criticizes the project of the Transitional Administration, saying that it was agreed on by the regime “according to the provincial system included in the constitution of the regime”, accusing the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of “denying the rights of the legitimate Kurdish people in Syria” and operating “in accordance with what the regime allows”. 

“How can we establish Transitional Administration while the regime still exists in our areas?” Sheikhmous wondered. 

Rony Ali, a Syrian Kurdish academic and writer, directed his critique to  all Kurdish political parties in Syria, saying that each performs in a partisan way “according to their own agenda, regardless of the popular demands”.  

“Hypocrisy is being practised by the Kurdish parties towards their people as a way to avoid people’s anger concerning their policies and attitudes towards the situation in Syria in general, and the developments in the Kurdish areas in particular,” Ali stated in an interview with ARA News.

Ali said that the PYD “apparently tries to monopolize power in Syria’s Kurdish areas”.

“It is obvious through the PYD’s policies and the practices of its armed wings (YPG and Asayish) that the party does not really care about the future of the Kurdish people in Syria, but only looks for power in the region, no matter how,” Ali said. “Regime’s officials are being welcomed in our areas under the protection of the PYD forces, while our people are being detained and displaced.” 

Idris Omar, a Kurdish former political prisoner, emphasized the importance of Qamishlo and its strategic location for the Syrian regime, “that’s why the regime constantly tries to keep it under control”.

“To announce a Transitional Administration by the PYD in this phase in Syria in not an accidental act; it came after the declaration of the Syrian National Coalition SNC (opposition’s largest umbrella) to form an interim government, Omar told ARA News

Omar argued that the PYD’s declaration is a “mere reaction to the formation of an interim government by the SNC.

“The Transitional Administration in Syria’s Kurdish areas was blessed by the Assad regime to deepen dispute and hostility between Kurds and Arabs in Syria,” he said.

According to Omar, all practices by the PYD across the Kurdish region in norther Syria “are carried out after a permission by the Assad regime”.

“Other Kurdish political parties are excluded and marginalized by the PYD because of the current power the latter has in presence of the Assad regime. The PYD members should rethink their position because in the end other Kurdish parties are partners in the area and cannot be always marginalized. If the PYD wants to survive in the post-Assad phase in Syria’s Kurdish areas, the party should look for reconciliation with other Kurdish parties who also have their supporters,” Omar said.

Omar concluded: “Any self-rule project cannot survive in the Kurdish areas without a consensus by all different parties.” 

Abdulqader Hori, a Kurdish politician, said that some Kurdish parties still believe that the Syrian regime may provide Kurds with their rights. “Those parties are mistaken. They should to the history of this regime and its practices against the Kurdsih people in Syria,” Hori told ARA News.

Hori added that activities of the Popular Protection Units (YPG) −military wing of the PYD− tend to serve that Assad regime.

“Otherwise, how can we interpret the repeated visits of the Assad officials to the strongholds of the YPG forces and its political leadership, the PYD,” Hori said. 

Dr. Suleiman Mohamed Dumuzi, member of the Kurdish Red Crescent in Syria, commented on the visit of the regime’s Minister of Oil and the Vice Secretary of the Baath Party to Qamishlo/Qamishli nearly two weeks ago, saying that the regime tries to strengthen the relations with the PYD “as the protector of the northern areas”.

“With the start of the ongoing uprising in Syria, the regime has reportedly sent members of the PYD to Qandil (stronghold of the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK) to arrange a cooperation with some of the PKK fighters who may back the PYD in suppressing the anti-Assad movement in Syria’s Kurdish areas,” Dumuzi stated in an interview with ARA News.

Dumuzi criticized the announcement of the Transitional Administration (self-rule) in the Kurdish areas, saying: “It does not meet the aspirations of the Kurdish people in Rojava (Syria’s Kurdish region). The administration seems fragile and non-representative to all Kurdish parties.”

“With the growing accusations to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of links with the Assad regime, all regional and international powers seems to oppose the party’s activities and aspirations,” he said. “A Kurdish reconciliation is needed to strengthen the project of a Transitional Administration; otherwise, a Kurdish-Kurdish conflict in Syria will be inevitable.”

Shalal Geddo, a member of the Political Bureau of the Kurdish Democratic Leftist Party, said that Qamishlo city is clearly under the domination of the regime forces next to the PYD fighters, “which is obvious by looking at the regime’s full control on the city’s international airport”. 

“Although the pro-Assad security forces exist in different Kurdish areas in Syria, they do not directly intervene in the people’s daily life, leaving the mission to the pro-PYD forces,” Geddo told ARA News

Geddo commented on the pro-regime demonstration in Qamishli saying: “Apparently, the regime is trying to show that it is still strong, while the opposite is evident in other cities and towns across Syria.”

Over months, forces loyal to the PYD have reportedly prevented Kurdish anti-Assad protesters to take to the street in several Kurdish cities in Syria. 

“The PYD denies the basic right of people to peacefully demonstrate,” Geddo said. 

As many observers criticize the doubtful peace between the Assad forces and the PYD’s Kurdish armed groups, some activists believe that any Kurdish-regime clashes may lead to a mass destruction of the Kurdish areas, since the regime owns significantly powerful air force.

“The time has not come yet for any clashes between the Kurdish forces (PYD’s YPG and Asayish) and the Assad army,” said Ibrahim Ahmad, a Kurdish activist. 

According to Ahmad, the regime is not happy with a Kurdish domination in northern Syria. 

“But because the Syrian army is busy with fighting against the opposition groups in other areas in Syria, the regime suspended any operations against the Kurdish people in the north,” Ahmad argued. “If the regime could defy the opposition in other Syrian cities and towns, the pro-Assad forces will immediately direct its operations against the PYD and the Kurdish factions.” 

 

 

Reporting by: Azad Jamkari

Source: ARA News

(Editing by: Adib Abdulmajid. Translation by: Abdul Ilah Ibrahim)

 

 

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