Four Syrian Kurdish Parties Forging New Alliance

“70 % of Syrian Kurds united in new political front?”

03/12/2012 RUDAW  By HEMIN KHOSHNAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—Four Syrian Kurdish parties are forging a political alliance, saying the union will strengthen the Kurdish National Council, but with other party leaders expressing concerns of greater tensions within the KNC. The Democratic Kurdish Party in Syria (Al Party), the Kurdish Union Party (KUP) and both wings of the Freedom Party (Azadi) have said they are uniting into a single political union. One party leader said that together, the alliance will represent 70 percent of Syrian Kurds.

All four parties are represented in the KNC, an amalgam of 15 political groups. The umbrella organization has been involved in the Syrian civil war but has been hobbled by differences among its many members.

“The existence of multiple parties in the Kurdish National Council has crippled its effectiveness. We hope other parties will follow our step, said KUP leader Ismael Hama.“The less political parties we have, the better it is for the Kurds. Our political union is a temporary step towards forming a new political party,” he stated.

But Tala Muhammad, deputy general secretary of the Kurdish Accord Party in Syria (KAP), expressed worries over the new alliance. “I have concerns about this union. I am afraid it will cause disagreements within the KNC,” he said. Hama said he believed the new political entity will increase the KNC’s political clout. “This unity will not cripple the KNC, it will make it more effective because none of the Kurdish parties in Syria can be influential with their current form and size,” he said. Azadi leader Mustafa Ose voiced similar sentiments, saying that, “This unity is an attempt to create a bigger political party. There are many things to achieve in this stage, and weak political parties will come out empty handed.”

Despite the latest show of unity, divisions among Syria’s Kurdish parties have remained a trend ever since the oldest political party, Al Party, split in 1970 into two groups, left and right. A year after the KNC was founded, three political parties inside the grouping split into smaller groups. The latest alliance is mistrusted by some individuals and political parties alike, who believe it masks narrow political and personal interests.

“I do not see any ideological differences among Syria’s Kurdish political parties,” said Hasan Majeed, a 24-year-old university student from Syria’s Qamishlo region.

“Division has become a terminal disease among our politicians. So when I hear about the union of four political parties, it sounds more like a political joke,” he said.

Muhammad, the KAP leader, also said he believed that political interests had motivated the new union.”This political union will become a weak union and will last for a few months and only for political and personal interests,” he said.“They are trying to benefit from the Kurdistan region for political, logistical and financial advantages, but it is very difficult to see unity inside a single party, lte alone four parties. Even two parties cannot unite,” Muhammad said. With Azadi and Al Party in west Kurdistan both at odds with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Council — both of which are affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – suspicions are rife that political rivalries have motivated the alliance. Also rife are rumors that the new union was forged with the supervision of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, something that was not denied by Azadi leader Mustafa Juma. “The role and supervision of the Kurdistan region president is a positive aspect of our alliance,” Juma confirmed. He said that the alliance “represents 70 percent of the Kurds in Syria.”

But, Jidaan Yusuf Ali, a Reform Movement representative, cast doubt on Juma’s assertion. “All of the parties in west Kurdistan, along with PYD, do not represent 70 percent of the Kurdish society in Syria. If this were really true, the situation of the Kurds would have been much better,” he said.