Syrian Kurds are disappointed by PYD's
actions: KNC Leader 1.8.2012
The PYD has not controlled
any city by force. I don’t think the Turkish army
would be able to enter Western Kurdistan easily, Dr
Abdulhakim Bashar says
Dr Abdulhakim Bashar,
the head of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and
secretary-general of the Kurdish Democratic Party in
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August 1, 2012
Abdulhakim Bashar is the head of the Kurdish
National Council (KNC). In this interview with
Rudaw.net, he discusses a number of issues critical
to Western Kurdistan at this important historical
juncture, including the liberated cities in Kurdish
areas of the country, how the Erbil Agreement and
power-sharing with the Democratic Union Party (PYD)
are being implemented, and what he expects will be
in store for the Kurds after the regime of President
Bashar al-Assad falls. Interviewed by Hevidar Ahmed.
Q: How many
cities in Western Kurdistan have been librated from
No Kurdish cities have been librated. Syrian
security forces have a presence in every Kurdish
Q: But the
liberation of some cities like Kobane, Efrin, and
Derik was announced by the media.
Liberation has its symbols. Liberation means
clearing Kurdish cities of Syrian forces and never
allowing them to come back. Currently, Syrian
security forces have a presence everywhere in
Western Kurdistan, including the so-called liberated
It is true that a certain political party’s flag has
been raised on top of government offices, but the
regime can force them to leave if it wants. The
Syrian government is still in control of its
offices. They still move their equipment in and out
without any problem. So I would say no Kurdish
cities have been librated.
Q: Are you
saying that the party’s duty is to protect the
The government offices have not been taken. The
government can use them any time it wants. This
party’s actions have harmed the
reputation of Kurds in Western Kurdistan. They
are viewed as the regime’s partner. Having the
regime surrender its offices to the Kurds without
confrontation has harmed Kurdish interests in Syria
and led to hostility between the Kurds and the
government offices still functioning in Kurdish
The offices are functioning without any problems.
They have not changed except that the PYD flag has
been raised on their roofs.
Q: Who pays the
The Syrian government still pays them.
Q: It is said
that the Syrian regime informs the PYD in advance
before retreating from Kurdish cities. Do you have
any evidence that the government has surrendered
these cities to the PYD?
We don’t have any evidence, but in reality it seems
that way. The PYD has not controlled any city by
force. The government lets PYD take over the areas
it leaves behind.
Q: Why wouldn’t
the KNC take over the government offices?
We are not allowed to enter the government offices.
If we do so, the government will take them back from
us by force.
Q: It is said
that around 2,000 Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)
guerrillas entered Western Kurdistan. Is this true?
I don’t know the exact number, but I know PKK
fighters are in Western Kurdistan. Currently, the
PKK has gathered its forces on the Syrian-Kurdistan
Region border. But the PYD claims it will not allow
one single PKK fighter to penetrate into Western
Kurdistan from the Kurdistan Region.
Q: Where does
the PKK gather its forces?
In former Syrian military bases that have been
surrendered to the PYD. They are also patrolling the
border villages near the Kurdistan Region.
Q: Would the PYD
stop any forces from entering Western Kurdistan from
the Kurdistan Region?
They say they would.
Q: Is there any
other Kurdish political party in Syria that carries
arms besides the PYD?
Q: The KNC
includes 15 political parties, but the PYD is just
one party. How did you reach the agreement with them
to run the cities 50/50?
The PYD and KNC have many goals including avoiding
civil war, distancing the PYD from the Syrian regime
and encouraging the PYD to serve Kurdish interests.
In order to reach our goals, we had to give in to
their demands with the Erbil Agreement.
Q: Has the PYD
implemented these things?
So far, no. They have been implemented politically,
but in reality the PYD is still behaving in the same
way. They say they are an independent party and
won’t accept instructions from anyone.
Q: Has the PYD
ignored the Erbil Agreement?
The PYD says they would respect any decision made by
both the PYD and the KNC, but they act differently.
The PYD didn’t support the fall of the regime before
the Erbil Agreement. However, we decided to hold a
joint demonstration against the regime, which was a
good step. On the other hand, we are concerned that
the PYD creates problems since they carry arms.
Q: The PYD has
set up many checkpoints to protect Kurdish areas. Do
you think this is a good step?
It is true that the PYD is the only armed Kurdish
political party and has patrols around the cities.
Syrian security wouldn’t confront PYD patrols. But
if we set up checkpoints, they will take us out.
Q: At this
critical moment for Western Kurdistan you are
staying in Iraqi Kurdistan. Why?
Most of the members of my party are inside Syria.
PYD leaders can leave Syria for conferences and go
back any time they want.
But we cannot do that. I would like to go back to
Syria and continue my struggle against the regime
but, if I return now, the regime will kill me.
Syrian Kurds are very disappointed in the PYD right
now. If the situation continues this way, it will
endanger Kurdish unity. Kurds might join the Free
Syrian Army (FSA) to protect themselves. People
cannot put up with the PYD any longer. There are
families who have daughters who have been taken and
raped. They try people for no reason. Kurdish youth
in Syria contact us, saying if the situation
continues this way they will have no choice but to
join the FSA.
Q: Have Kurdish
soldiers who have been trained in the Kurdistan
Region returned to Western Kurdistan yet?
We are against Kurds killing Kurds. Those soldiers,
who have been trained in the Kurdistan Region, are
defectors from the Syrian military. Their duty is
not to kill their Kurdish brothers. When they return
to Western Kurdistan, they will protect strategic
places like power stations, government offices and
Q: When will
these forces return to Western Kurdistan?
After the regime falls.
Q: Will the PYD
allow these forces to return to Syria?
We have an agreement with the PYD. According to the
Erbil Agreement, our forces must also take part in
security affairs including civil and armed affairs
in Western Kurdistan.
Q: According to
the Erbil Agreement, both the PYD and KNC agreed to
stop attacking each other in the media. However, you
attacked the PYD in Turkish newspapers. Why?
I didn’t attack. I spoke the truth. I said that
Kurdish cities had not been liberated. I also said
that Arab tribal leaders in the area wouldn’t
tolerate having the government surrender its offices
to the PYD. The Syrian government has recently
distributed 3,500 weapons to Arab tribes to fight
the PYD in Kurdish areas. This will lead to conflict
between Arabs and Kurds. I hope the PYD changes its
actions. The PYD wouldn’t react if the Syrian
government killed their members, but if a Kurd
criticizes them they would beat him up.
Q: It is said
that a member of your party killed a PYD member in
Efrin a few days ago. Why?
It is not true. They don’t have any evidence that
suggests a member of our party was responsible for
the death. We have plenty of evidence that the PYD
killed a senior leader of our party, Nasiradeen Piro.
We decided to stay silent to avoid civil war among
the Kurds. When the PYD member was killed in Efrin,
they accused a family close to us without any
evidence and killed four of them.
Q: Is PYD really
the most popular Kurdish political party in Western
Kurdistan or do they just appear that way because
they carry arms?
If the PYD disarmed, they wouldn’t even be in fourth
or fifth place.
Q: How popular
is your party in Western Kurdistan?
Elections will decide that.
Q: What will the
future of Western Kurdistan be?
The Syrian regime will fall. President Bashar al-Assad
will fight to the end and fight as part of the
Alawite ethnicity, which will lead to a sectarian
war in Syria. The spark of this war might affect
Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. That’s why the Kurds must
be very careful and will not get involved in that
Q: How do you
plan to not get involved in that war?
If our brothers in the PYD abide by the Erbil
Agreement and stop creating problems, then we can
all protect the Kurds in Syria together.
Q: How much
longer until the Assad regime falls?
It is not clear.
Q: The Turkish
government says they support Kurdish rights in Syria
but will not allow the PKK to control Western
Kurdistan in the name of the PYD or establish a
Kurdish region there. Will you interfere if that
happens? Can Turkey enter Western Kurdistan?
I don’t think the Turkish army would be able to
enter Western Kurdistan easily. We would stand
against such an attempt by Turkey. At the same time,
I hope the PYD acts responsibly because neither
Turkey nor other regional countries would allow them
to control Western Kurdistan. They must put Kurdish
interests before their party’s interests.
In the Erbil Agreement, there was a decision to not
raise any political party flags, except the
Kurdistan flag and the Syrian revolution flag. The
PYD doesn’t accept the revolution flag and has their
own style of Kurdish flag, and they always raise
their party’s flag.
Q: The Syrian
newspaper Watania reported that Kurdistan Region
President Massoud Barzani sent a letter to Bashar
al-Assad. Are you aware of this?
I don’t believe President Barzani sent any letter to
Assad. It is possible he answered a letter where the
Syrian regime asked if the Kurdistan Region would
interfere in Syria’s domestic affairs. I don’t think
President Barzani sent any official letter to the
Sieda, a Kurd, was elected as head of the Syrian
National Council (SNC). What is the view of the
council toward the Kurdish issue?
The view of the SNC will change for better toward
the Kurdish issue for two reasons. First, they know
we are strong as a nation and have influence.
Second, unlike Burhan Ghalioun,www.ekurd.net
the former leader of SNC, Sieda as a politician has
a good understanding of the situation. We have a
good relationship with the SNC. It is expected that
the council will come to the Kurdistan Region soon
to hold discussions with us.
Q: What is your
post-Assad plan? Are Syrian Kurds demanding
federalism or autonomy?
First, we must think about other things such as how
the regime will fall. Will there be a sectarian war
in Syria? In the Erbil Agreement, we said federalism
must be implemented in Syria. I believe Syria will
become four federal regions.
Q: Are there any
political parties in the Kurdistan Region that
support the KNC?
Only the Kurdistan Region president supports the KNC.
He views all the Syrian Kurdish political parties
equally. Barzani follows the
developments in Western Kurdistan every hour.
Barzani cannot sleep well as he is eager about where
the situation in Syria is heading. He wants Western
Kurdistan to achieve its rights.
Q: Does the KNC
have relationships with the U.S., UK and the West?
Yes, we have a strong relationship with them. We
have a good relationship with France as they stand
behind Kurdish rights. The French say the Kurds have
a right to demand federalism. The U.S. says to not
mention federalism, because the Arabs don’t like it.
At this stage, they say to make friends with the
Arabs and demand federalism during discussions with
them. The UK has no clear position, but say they
support Kurdish rights.
Q: Do you have
relationships with Turkey?
Yes, we have met the Turkish foreign minister twice,
however we have different views. Turkey says the
Kurdish issue in Syria must be resolved as in
Turkish Kurdistan. Turkey says the Kurds should only
participate in the government as heads of
municipalities, MPs and ministers. But we told them
that is not enough and that we want Kurdish rights
to be enshrined in the new constitution. We told
them we want to follow the pattern of the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) and it would be in their
interests to have a good relationship with the
Q: Do you have
relationships with Iran as well?
We consider Iran part of the Syrian regime and have
no relationship with them.
By Hevidar Ahmed - Rudaw
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