Senior Kurdish officials from the Syrian Kurdish National Council (KNC), a loose coalition of Kurdish parties in Syria, have rejected any fragmentation scenarios in the restive country in a post-President Bashar al-Assad period.
Rather they emphasized the Kurds' “right to self-determination” within a decentralized structure falling under a united Syria.
Adbelhakim Bashar, president of KNC's foreign relations committee, indicated in an interview with Today's Zaman that the “Kurdish people would never be an instrument of any scenarios endangering the territorial integrity of Syria.” He emphasized that Kurdish people have “legitimate democratic demands [the right to self-determination] as long as those demands would remain under the frame of a united Syria.”
Furthermore, Nori Brimo, the spokesperson for KNC, maintained that Kurdish people would be content with a “decentralized structure under the roof of the [Syrian] state that acknowledges the existence and rights of the Syrian people,” in remarks to Today's Zaman.
“According to us, Kurdish people should not be under any central authority; they should have a democratic administration. Every element making up the Syrian people should determine its own fate under a secular and pluralist Syrian state,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Bashar stressed that any possible future scenario that includes “Kurdish people's fate in Syria” would be determined by the Kurds themselves, with the agreement of all other groups lending support to the Syrian revolution, especially the Syrian National Council (SNC) -- a main umbrella group for the Syrian opposition --- and other opposition forces.
In addition, Brimo maintained that speculations about an independent Kurdish statelet in Syria's north are being exaggerated in Turkey. “All we want is for Kurdish people living in Syria, Iran and Turkey to acquire their national rights, just like the Kurdish people of Iraq have done. Nothing more, nothing less,” he explained.
The two officials have further denied that terrorist the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has any significant influence over the Kurdish people of Syria.
Turkey has recently been alarmed by Kurdish control of five Syrian cities near the Turkish border. A military group linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) -- a PKK offshoot -- has been controlling the predominantly Kurdish cities after the Syrian army withdrew from the region in order to concentrate on the fight against insurgents in more central cities such as Aleppo and Damascus.
The KNC is an organization that comprises a dozen Kurdish parties -- most of them having been banned during the 50-year rule of Ba'ath Party regime in Syria -- which formed a coalition last October under the auspices of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani. The KRG leader has also initiated a dialogue process between the KNC and the PYD, which led to the establishment of the Syrian Kurdish Supreme Council in mid-July. The council envisages the establishment of several committees related to security and administrative affairs.
The officials explained that efforts to solve existing problems between different Kurdish groups in Syria are still ongoing. But once the rift between different opinions is negotiated, this would mean stability and peace for a number of regional actors including Barzani-led Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, Brimo claimed. “[Such] an agreement would speed up the fall of the Assad regime, in ensuring the unity of Kurdish people and concentrating their power to the ouster of the regime,” he explained.
The KNC also has recently convened with the SNC in Iraqi Kurdistan, with the participation of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and officials from the KRG, including its interior minister, Karim Sinjari. Several parties in the KNC had earlier left the SNC, because the group lacked of any clear policy for Kurdish aspirations.
Brimo reiterated that fully fledged cooperation between the KNC and the SNC is conditional upon the latter's admittance that Kurds would be mentioned as the second largest group of people in the new constitution, with guarantees for Kurdish rights. While asserting that Kurdish Supreme Council places great importance on having good relations with the SNC, Brimo complained about the fragmented structure of Syrian opposition. “[The SNC] is trying to play down the role of other opposition groups, especially the one of the Kurds. However, we will try to overcome such obstacles,” he claimed.
Touching upon the situation of Kurds in Turkey, Bashar also expressed the hope that the “Kurdish problem” will be solved by peaceful means in Turkey.
“The relations founded upon Kurdish fraternity should exist within the scope of further developing kinship ties [between Kurdish groups in different countries.] Turks, Iranians and Arabs, which are our neighbors, should not approach these relations with suspicion,” Brimo also explained.
Meanwhile, officials have rejected that there has been as yet any contact between Syrian Kurds and pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) in Turkey.
ORSAM: Turkey should develop ties with Syrian Kurds
Turkey should develop ties with Syrian Kurds, Turkish think tank says
Ankara Today's Zaman
Turkey must forge ties with Syrian Kurds in order to prevent the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from gaining further influence, a report by the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM), a prominent Ankara-based think tank, has said.
The report, prepared by Associate Professor Serhat Erkmen, a Middle East research fellow at ORSAM also lecturing in the international relations department of Kırşehir's Ahi Evran University, has studied the historical development of the Kurdish political movement in Syria from past to present. Kurdish groups have gained important military and political leverage recently, particularly in Syria's north, increasing the need to take the group into consideration in evaluating the Syrian conflict.
The report claims that Turkey should exert efforts to ensure Kurdish groups would be integrated into political mechanisms in a post-Bashar al-Assad era, as a way to weaken the PKK's grip on Syrian Kurds.
The report also claims that even if the Assad regime falls in Syria, Syrian Kurds would not be able to establish an independent region in northern Syria, due to a number of political, geographic and demographic factors in the region preventing such a scenario.
The report also draws attention to the rifts between Kurdish political groups active in Syria, describing the Kurdish political parties as lacking established structure and holding differing views about the regime's future and Kurdish identity claims in Syria.