Tensions between Syrian Kurdish parties intensify, local security forces deny involvement


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

ARA News

Qamishli – Tensions erupted between Kurdish parties in Syria after the Kurdish National Council (KNC) launched a protest against the arrest of Kurdish politicians by the local authorities. The protest was attacked by a youth group.

Moreover, a Kurdish flag was allegedly burned last Saturday by unknown attackers in Amude city in a building of a KNC-linked Kurdish party. The incident was condemned by president Masoud Barzani, who suggested that those who ‘disrespect the Kurdish flag will pay’.

The Asayish, the Kurdish security police affiliated to the local Self-Administration, denied any involvement.

“Our Asayish forces are protecting the parties especially under the name of the KNC, which are against the Self-Administration and its advances, protecting their bureaus and party centres,” the Asayish said in a statement.

“Despite our interior council asking KNC to seek permission to carry out a protest and for Asayish forces to provide their security, the KNC has acted in violation to the protest and march laws, carrying out an unauthorized protest,” the Asayish said.

The Asayish said they arrested members of the Revolutionary Youth group (Ciwanén şoreşger in Kurdish), which is supported the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Last Sunday, the Asayish said 30 persons were arrested.

“We call on our people living in either Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan] or Başur [Iraqi Kurdistan] to not pave the way for provocations and people wanting to cause tension like this at a process where we are fighting terrorist gang groups like Daesh (ISIS) which targets the existence of the Kurdish people,” the Asayish stated.

Although the protest was five days ago, tensions continued, and on Tuesday another office of the KNC was burned in the town of Tirbespiyê. Moreover, the KNC said a mother lost her baby because of the attack by the PYD-affiliated youth group.

Zara Salih, a member of the Political Committee of the KNC-linked Yekîtî Party, said in an interview with ARA News that the Kurds should do more to avoid an internal conflict.

“According to several eyewitnesses, the Asayish forces were present when the attack on the KNC protest took place, and they did nothing to stop it,” Salih said.

“Another thing is that the ‘Revolutionary Youth’ who attacked the demonstration and Yekîtî office are affiliated with the PYD. Today another office was burned in Tirbespiyê, and the Asayish didn’t intervene to prevent those continuous violations,” Salih told ARA News. “All political parties should stop this conflict and try to find a solution.”

The KNC is the main rival of the PYD, and backed by Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The PYD, on the other hand, is closer to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Both the KDP and PKK have significant influence over the Kurdish parties in Syria, but the PYD and the People’s Protection Units became the most dominant actors in Syrian Kurdistan after they took control of most Kurdish cities in July 2012 and established local autonomous canton administrations in Efrin, Kobani, and Cizire. The KNC has refused to recognize these new administrations.

While the PYD has accused the KNC of working for foreign agendas and Turkey, the KNC has accused the PYD of working with the Syrian regime.
So far, the two sides have not been able to share power in northern Syria, and have been working against each other after the failure of the Duhok agreement to in October 2014.

“We all know that this tension between the KNC and PYD is not resulted just from disagreements on local issues such as administration and who will lead the military forces. What is going on in Rojava is reflection of the historical disagreement between PKK and KDP,” Bader Mustafa, a member of the Kurdish Youth Movement (TCK) said. “PKK sees the developments in Rojava as a success of its theory, and KDP sees that most of the population is pro-Barzani and it is still true somehow,” he told ARA News.

According to Mustafa, the problems between the KNC and the PYD can only be solved by the United States, or by a new peace process between the PKK and the Turkish government.

“So I believe we have two choices for solution in Rojava; either to have a new peace process in Turkey, which could bring about an agreement on most of Rojava’s political and military issues, or to have a US-sponsored agreement like the one achieved in Iraqi Kurdistan between PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan] and KDP,” he said, in a reference to a peace accord brokered by Washington in 1998 which ended the civil war between the PUK and KDP.

According to the KNC, “more than thirty members and leaders of the parties of the KNC are currently detained in PYD prisons without any criminal background,” the KNC said in a statement to ARA News.

However, the PYD denied that there are any political prisoners. “Anyone that accepts the Self-Administration can work in Rojava,” co-Chair of the PYD Salih Muslim said in a conference in London on 22 November. “I promise anyone who apply for permission to work in Rojava, they will be free to do whatever they like there.”

“We have to work all together and bring all the parties to the table to establish some balance in Rojava,” he said.

Most of the Syrian Kurds hope the political parties in Rojava would work together to establish stability and improve the relations.

“Unity if the only solution for Kurds ; if there is no unity, there is no victory. No party could achieve success by itself,” said Polat Can, the representative of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to the Western coalition against ISIS.

“I think the PYD simply resists any type of interaction with the KNC these days because they see them entirely as a Turkish sponsored entity to undermine Kurdish political ambitions. As the conflict north in Turkey has got worse the attitudes have hardened yet further,” Michael Stephens, head of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told ARA News.

“Additionally, the KNC’s position is increasingly weakened by the general course of the war in which the mainstream opposition is fast losing to Bashar al-Assad,” he said.

“This has caused a problem for the KNC and heightened tensions between themselves and the PYD at the same time. Ultimately the KNC has fewer and fewer cards to play. And their grip both inside Rojava and in the Syrian opposition more broadly is slipping,” Stephens argued.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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