Syrian Kurds accuse Iraqi Kurds of preventing media covering Raqqa operation


Syrian Kurdish fighters observing Semalka crossing on the Syrian side of the border. File photo

ARA News

Abdulkarim Omer, the head of foreign relations for Cezire Canton in Syria’s Kurdish region-Rojava, told ARA News on Monday that the Kurdish government in northern Iraq is preventing Western journalists and diplomats from visiting Rojava.

“It is true, for some time the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] government [KRG] put an embargo on us. We cannot enter Basur [Iraqi Kurdistan] to do our diplomatic work, but also journalists and diplomats are not allowed by the KDP to enter Rojava,” he said.

“This is a result of Turkey’s policy, and the KDP has relations with Turkey. For this reason there is an embargo. We hope that in the future the embargo from Semalka [Fishkhabur] crossing is lifted,” Omer said in an exclusive interview with ARA News in Qamishli.

A member of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) also said that Iraqi Kurdistan has been preventing Western journalists from covering the Raqqa operation and the fight against terrorism in Syria. “There are many [Western journalists] waiting to cross into Rojava,” he said.

Since last year, the Iraqi Kurdish authorities have prevented Western journalists from traveling to northern Syria.

The US-led coalition said it has nothing to do with the blockade. “The Coalition does not have any control over access to Syria for journalists,” a coalition spokesperson told ARA News.

The blockade is a result of the tensions between the KDP and the PYD.

The PYD-affiliated authorities in Rojava have arrested many supporters of the Barzani-backed Kurdish National Council (KNC) since a clash took place on 3 March between the KDP and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Sinjar. This while the KDP has cracked down on pro-PKK protests.

The Kurdish National Council is backed by President Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The Democratic Union Party (PYD), on the other hand, is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

So far, the KNC and PYD have not been able to share power in northern Syria, and have been working at cross-purposes since the Duhok Agreement in October 2014 to share power in northern Syria was not implemented by both sides. While the PYD has repeatedly accused the KNC of working for Turkey, the KNC has accused the PYD of working with the Syrian government and Iran.

The KDP has used the border to pressure the PYD, this while the PYD has responded by arresting pro-Barzani activists and politcians in northern Syria.

It’s unlikely that many Western journalists will cover the Raqqa operation, unless they travel from Damascus with a Syrian government visa.

Reporting by: Can Deriki | Source: ARA News

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