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July 27, 2012, Friday

Is the real problem peshmergas sent from Arbil to Syria?

Holding a press conference before his departure for London, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the items that will be discussed during Davutoğlu’s visit to Arbil. Many important initiatives, including the creation of a buffer zone in Syrian territories, are on the agenda.

Looking at the prime minister’s statement from the press conference, Turkey considers the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish political party established in 2003, as an organization that undertakes activities in line with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rather than an independent organization that protects the interests of Kurdish people in Syria.

Thus Turkey is very uneasy about the agreement signed amongst the Syrian Kurdish groups in northern Iraq on July 12 which was brokered by Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The Turkish government considers the agreement as an initiative that threatens the territorial integrity of Syria which is supposed to be protected after the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

As you may recall, in a speech he made during his last his group meeting before the Parliamentary intermission, Erdoğan mentioned the Syrian issue and underlined that Turkey will not allow a redesigning of Syria’s borders.

It seems that the joining of the Kurdish National Council (KNC) of Syria to the PYD has disturbed Turkey. Now, the issue of Iraqi peshmergas who will be sent to Syria after receiving military training in Arbil has been added to the list of things that has disturbed Turkey.

According to Turkey, this is an attempt against the territorial integrity of Syria. But how did things come to this stage?

The PYD has consolidated its position in Syria such that Kurdish groups who do not support the PYD and even accused it of collaborating with Assad’s regime have been suppressed by the PYD. Indeed, the PYD has set up checkpoints with the help of its armed militants at several locations and have started to intervene in people’s lives.

Barzani has understood that he cannot simply remain a spectator to these developments and decided to bring together the PYD and the other Kurdish groups suppressed by the PYD. The agreement has been signed and the PYD has become a member of the KNC of Syria. Everything was understandable up to this point; however the PYD has not only violated the provisions of the agreement several times, but also started to hang the party’s flags in the public institutions seized from Assad’s regime instead of Kurdish flags.

As a result of these developments, the Turkish government began to have concerns that the PKK would have more room to maneuver for its activities in Syria and it cannot be said this is nothing but an unfounded concern.

According to the provisions of the agreement signed in Arbil, the PYD shall not conduct attacks against other Kurdish groups and resort to illegal methods to establish dominance over them.

But the PYD has not abided by the agreement. Even during the first days of the agreement, the members of several Kurdish groups were detained by the PYD and some of them are still under arrest.

The PYD has not refrained from resorting to illegal methods in order to ensure its absolute dominance in the areas that was claimed to be seized from the Baathist soldiers. The PYD has planted armed militants not only in small towns but also in the big cities including Aleppo. The PYD has never engaged in an armed conflict with the Assad’s army.

In fact, it cannot be expected to do this since the PYD has never launched an attack against Assad’s regime.

Saleh Mohammed Muslim, the head of the PYD, is not the person who conducts their activities; they are masterminded by a senior PKK commander who uses the codename “Bahoz Erdal [commander of the PKK] and his team.”

Davutoğlu will pay a visit to Arbil in order to discuss the situation in Syria. Barzani and the KRG have to do some self-critique even if Davutoğlu did not organize this visit because the Syrian Kurdish groups, excluding the PYD, need Barzani. Since the other groups do not have much political experience or any armed forces, this situation creates an unequal balance between the PYD and the others.

The issue of the 2,000 peshmergas who will be sent to Syria has disturbed Muslim as well. “Peshmergas are our friends but we do not need them,” he said this week.

Muslim, who stated that they do not want the presence of the Arbil-trained peshmergas in Syria, does not mention why they do not have any trouble with Assad’s soldiers in the towns that were claimed to have been seized from Assad’s soldiers by the PYD. In these towns, the PDY militants and Assad’s soldiers live together in harmony.

Kobanê is an exception. Assad’s soldiers have left this town but they maintain their presence. They handed the administrative buildings over to the PYD officials but their military presence still remains.

Considering these facts, we should ask the Turkish government how correct it is to object to the issue of peshmergas being sent to Syria.

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