Arabs, Turkey Want to Control Serekaniye for Strategic Advantage: Salih Muslim

04/02/2013  By HEMIN KHOSHNAW – RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The close proximity of the Syrian city of Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) to the Turkish border is the reason behind ongoing violent clashes there between the Arab and Kurdish opposition to the Damascus regime, says Salih Muslim, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

The Kurdish opposition in Syria and the predominantly Arab Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main force fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, has been on the same side in its quest to topple the regime. But recently, fighting erupted in Serekaniye between the FSA and PYD-affiliated Popular Protection Committee (YPG), with the Kurds accusing Turkey of fueling an Arab-Kurdish war.

“Serekaniye is the Arab fighters’ door to Turkey and logistical support,” says Muslim. “If they control Serekaniye they will easily control Derik. As matter fact if they control Serekaniye they can control as far as Hassaka,”  Muslim says. He explains that Serekaniye has a strategic location, and controlling it would give the Arabs more leverage over the Kurds, because the Arabs can separate Kobani and Afreen from Jazeera.  Muslim claims that Arab control over this region will impede traffic and communications between Kurds in the two geographically separate regions.

“There is no communication, there is fighting in this area. When the fight is over, the communications and relations will restore to their ordinary situation,” Muslim says.  ”The Arab fighters are trying to eliminate communications and relations completely, and place Jazeera under their control,” he claims. Muslim adds that upon discovering that they could not implement their plan through the FSA Turkish forces joined up with tribal leader Nawaf Basheer, who was appointed head of the Jazeera and Furat Liberation Front.

“They (Turkish forces) have allocated $200 million for this force,” Muslim says.

According to Muslim, “Basheer is after money. His tribe does not support him. Those who fight for him, they fight for money.”In the past, Arab fighters have publicly claimed that the PYD receives orders from Turkey, saying that if it and the YPG comply with Turkish demands to stay away from the border from Serekaniye to Derik, then both would have to withdraw from these towns.

“Their plan is to disarm the Kurds, “Muslim says.  “This is something different from the Syrian revolution, it does not serve the Syrian revolution.  This is a Turkish demand to eliminate the Kurds.” But Muslim believes that the fight in Serekaniye has brought the Kurdish factions closer together. “It’s no longer a revolution for freedom and democracy. What’s happening today is a fight for power and distribution of power,” he told Rudaw. Thus far, Muslim claims, eight members of the YPG have been killed, while the death toll within forces loyal to Turkey is estimated in the hundreds.