Syr­ian Kur­dish Dis­cord Threat­ens to De­rail His­tor­i­cal Junc­ture

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

While most of Syria has been em­broiled in tur­moil and large-scale suf­fer­ing, the Syr­ian Kurds have been pre­sented with his­toric op­por­tu­ni­ties and the build­ing blocks for un­prece­dented au­ton­omy.

How­ever, clashes with Syr­ian rebels, frosty re­la­tions with Ankara, not for­get­ting wide dis­unity, jos­tle's for power and even clashes be­tween ri­val Kur­dish fac­tions, threat­ens to de­rail the Syr­ian Kur­dish project.

For some of the 2 mil­lion or so Kurds in Syria, there are dozens of po­lit­i­cal par­ties which tell its own story. Even be­fore the start of the con­flict in Syria, the Kur­dish move­ment was largely plagued by dis­unity and lack of lead­er­ship. Un­like other Kur­dis­tani con­stituents in Iraq, Iran and Tur­key, the Kur­dish strug­gle never had the same firm na­tion­al­ist foun­da­tions. To­day Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan is at the fore­front of the new Syria and the Kur­dish na­tion­al­ist re­nais­sance.

How­ever, the grow­ing hos­til­ity and strug­gle for in­flu­ence is threat­ing in­tra-Kur­dish con­flict at the time when all en­er­gies should be fixed on con­sol­i­dat­ing Syr­ian Kur­dish gains and its fu­ture role in Syria.

The Er­bil agree­ment of 2012 sought to pa­per over the cracks and bring a level of co­or­di­na­tion and unity be­tween the PKK lean­ing Demo­cratic Union Party (PYD) led groups and those with closer links to Mas­saud Barzani and the Kur­dis­tan re­gional lead­er­ship.

How­ever, the ac­cord has been tainted with sus­pi­cion and an­i­mos­ity from the start. The PYD clearly has the up­per-hand in power and sup­port, with the Kur­dish mil­i­tary arm, the Peo­ple’s De­fense Units (YPG), dom­i­nated by the PYD.

Other Kur­dish par­ties have worked to read­dress the po­lit­i­cal im­bal­ance. This clear line of con­tention cul­mi­nated in a cri­sis be­tween the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) lead­er­ship and the PYD in re­cent days af­ter the ar­rest of 74 mem­bers of the Barzani-backed Demo­cratic Party of Syria.

The ar­rests led to strongly-worded state­ments from the Kur­dis­tan Pres­i­dent and a clos­ing of the KRG bor­der with Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan.

The state­ment from Barzani’s pres­i­den­tial of­fice ac­cused the PYD of reneg­ing on the Er­bil agree­ment, marginal­is­ing other par­ties and killing and de­tain­ing peo­ple.

The state­ment warned against the PYD to change its at­ti­tude and not to “…de­clare it­self the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Kur­dish peo­ple in Syria be­fore elec­tions are held.” Barzani warned the KRG would pur­sue another course of ac­tion if per­ceived au­to­cratic rule con­tin­ued.

PYD leader, Mus­lim Saleh, pointed to dis­agree­ments amongst the Kur­dish Na­tional Coun­cil (KNC), which in­cludes the re­cently formed pro-Barzani Kur­dish Demo­cratic Union, for cracks in the Er­bil agree­ment.

Saleh em­pha­sised that the ar­rested mem­bers had re­ceived mil­i­tary train­ing in Kur­dis­tan and that they would take ac­tion against any armed group not within the PYD led YPG um­brella and that fall un­der the Supreme Kur­dish Coun­cil. Saleh wel­comed any me­di­a­tion ef­forts but warned against Barzani sup­port for ri­val fac­tions.

There is clearly a mis­match be­tween the PYD’s aim to re­main the en­forcers on the ground and the KRG and the KNC aim to read­dress the bal­ance of both po­lit­i­cal and mil­i­tary power.

The only way of clar­i­fy­ing the grap­ple for power is via free and open elec­tions. But even then, with­out a bal­anced and un­bi­ased se­cu­rity force, who­ever has mil­i­tary power will have a greater say.

Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan is in great need of the KRG, both for po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity and as an eco­nomic and so­cial life­line. A de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of re­la­tions within Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan and with the KRG lead­er­ship will be of great detri­ment to the Re­gion.

The Kur­dish mil­i­tary units should unite un­der one rank and for one pur­pose, to serve Syr­ian Kur­dish as­pi­ra­tions. Nar­row minded po­lit­i­cal agen­das of any party are a back­ward step in the Kur­dish na­tion­al­ist strug­gle. With in­sta­bil­ity and rag­ing civil war on its door step, an un­cer­tain fu­ture and hardly firm foun­da­tions for its ex­is­tence or re­gional back­ing, Syr­ian Kurds risk los­ing a great his­tor­i­cal op­por­tu­nity.

A Syr­ian Kurd walks past gi­ant Kur­dish and Syr­ian op­po­si­tion flags ahead of a sit-in in front of the United Na­tions head­quar­ters in Beirut, in sol­i­dar­ity with anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers in Syria, April 29, 2012.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Iraq

© PressReader. All rights reserved.