Syrian Kurds seek unity deal after release of opposition activists

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Syrian Kurdish politicians leading a demonstration in Derik city. File photo

ARA News

Erbil – Bernard Koucher and Peter Galbraith traveled to Northern Syria – Rojava (NSR) on Wednesday, offering to mediate between the governing Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the opposition. Koucher and Galbraith are France’s former Foreign Minister and an American diplomat, respectively.

Their initial efforts bore fruit and the Asayish police have released a handful of Kurdish National Council (KNC) politicians and activists. All detained KNC members are supposed to be released in the coming days.

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) has worked to facilitate the talks. Kamal Sido, a member of the STP Advisory Board, told ARA News that 8 KNC members had been released so far.

According to Sido, the talks were now progressing from urgent problems to future prospects. “They are discussing the question of how we can politically help the Kurds in northern Syria. Military help is not enough,” he said.

Broadly speaking, Syrian Kurds have embraced the talks with cautious optimism. Those who spoke to ARA News viewed the interparty conflict as a dangerous impediment to Kurdish political aspirations.

Zara Salih, a Yekiti politician, told ARA News that his party saw “this first step as a positive sign and a good start.” The Yekiti Party is a constituent member of the KNC.

Salih said that after the Asayish releases the remaining prisoners, the Yekiti leadership were “ready to begin negotiations with PYD and the Movement for a Democratic Society, to reach a new deal.”

According to Salih, the deal would have to focus on finding practical solutions to deal with today’s problems. “Apart from Islamic State, there is Turkey, the Syrian regime, extremist groups, and all of these forces are against the Kurds,” he said.

Striking a note for interparty unity, The Yekiti politician said that the Kurds “can only deal with this by sitting at the table and holding a serious discussion.”

Salih Muslim, the PYD’s co-Chair, visited the United Kingdom’s parliament on Thursday. While there, he denied that Rojava had any political prisoners and insisted that anyone can legally work there, after they touch base with the local self-administration.

“There are two parties that are staying in Istanbul and taking orders from the foreigners and refusing to ask for permission to work in Rojava legally,” Muslim said, in reference to the KNC’s affiliates. “If you want democracy, we all need to work together.”

The KNC is backed by President Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PYD, on the other hand, is ideologically closer to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). While the PYD has repeatedly accused the KNC of working for Turkey, the KNC has accused the PYD of working with the Syrian government.

The Yekiti Party’s Zara Salih spoke for many of his fellow Kurds: “This deal is necessary for us; otherwise we stand to lose everything.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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