“They asked me why you don’t join. We are fighting on the ground. There are many armed groups attacking us in our Kurdish cities, can you stop them? They said ‘no.’ So why should I deal with you?"
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Salih Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is the biggest Kurdish party in Syria, was quoted as saying that his group does not support the Kurdish National Council (KNC) joining the Syrian National Coalition (NC).
“I think it’s going to divide the Kurdish people, because there was a decision by the Supreme Kurdish Council not to deal with any side of the opposition without permission,” he said.
The PYD became the biggest Kurdish party in Syria after gaining control of the main nine Kurdish cities in the country in July last year, after the withdrawal of President Bashar Assad’s forces. Moreover, the PYD and other Kurdish parties plan to form an interim civilian administration and organize an election after six months of forming the transitional government.
Recently, the KNC joined the NC, but this is still opposed by the PYD. The Syrian opposition accepted most Kurdish demands, apart from recognizing a form of Kurdish autonomy in Syria.
According to Muslim it is not a problem that the KNC, the rival of the PYD, joins the Syrian coalition; he prefers Kurds to deal with the opposition in a united bloc. “We like all the Kurds to deal together with the opposition, not to join them, but coordinate with them or to have some kind of agreement,” he said. “Because if you join it, you have lost everything,” he added.
Moreover, he pointed out that the Syrian opposition is not homogenous. “There are different ideas, opinions, and ideologically they are not the same.”
The PYD leader has met with leaders of the Syrian opposition in Turkey and Europe. On August 31, Muslim met with the president of the Syrian coalition Ahmad Jarba in Paris.
“They asked me why you don’t join. We are fighting on the ground. There are many armed groups attacking us in our Kurdish cities, can you stop them? They said ‘no.’ So why should I deal with you? They don’t have control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA),” he said.
On July 17, an agreement between armed anti-Assad fighters, and the Kurdish armed groups broke down and fighting spread to three provinces where Kurds live in Syria. Despite internal disagreements between the FSA and groups linked to al-Qaida, both of them fight against Kurdish fighters affiliated to the PYD.
Muslim said the KNC and the NC can do what they like. “But it’s not suitable for Kurds to join.” He thinks that the Western countries pressured the KNC to join the Syrian opposition.
Some experts had predicted that the agreement between the Turkish-backed opposition and the KNC, backed by Kurdish parties in Iraq, would create problems with the PYD in Syria. The PYD leader disagrees.
“We have no problem with the KNC. The KNC and the People’s Council (of West-Kurdistan) have agreed on this transitional civil administration in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) and the Kurdish areas in Syria,” he said. “We are going step-by-step forward, but I think their agreement with the National Coalition is going to collapse, many voices don’t accept the Kurds.”
Nevertheless, the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (KDP-S), which is supported by Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, accuses the PYD of kidnapping its members in September in Afrin. The KDP-S accused the PYD of torturing a dozen KDP-S members.
A KDP-S member told the Kurdish NGO Kurdwatch, that “PYD releases 10 people, but that same night dozens more are kidnapped.” But according to media close to the PYD, they were involved in planning attacks against the YPG.
But Muslim says they do not have any problems with the Barzani-backed Kurdish party, only with the Kurdish Freedom Party led by Mustafa Cumma that allegedly controls Kurdish armed groups that cooperate with the FSA against the PYD.