Iran’s Kurdish PJAK organization is prepared to send fighters to Syrian Kurdistan

By Sherzad Shekhani – Asharq Al-Awsat – 5.8.2013 – ERBIL,— The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), a Kurdish organization in Iran, has announced that it is “ready to send fighters to Syrian Kurdistan to fight beside their people.”

The decision comes in the light of ongoing clashes between the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and Islamist groups such as Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Sources within Syria pointed out that “fatwas are broadcast from mosques in the region that permit Kurdish blood to be spilled. This development is very dangerous and is reminiscent of the infamous Operation Anfal, but this time against Syrian Kurds.”

A source within the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), which is affiliated with the PYD, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that 63 people were killed yesterday in clashes between Kurdish fighters and Jabhat Al-Nusra and ISIS. The source added that Kurdish fighters had seized weapons, ammunition and armored fighting vehicles.“As a result of increasing threats and terrorist forces consolidated against us . . . as well as some members from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) joining this suspicious alliance, there is an urgent and intense desire among young men and women from Kurdish areas to join the YPG.”The source continued, explaining that “many of them are now aware of the overt agendas of forces hostile to the Kurdish people within Syria. As such, they have proceeded to defend the rights that they recently had access to, thanks to the Democratic Union Party. Every day we receive hundreds of young men and women coming to volunteer, and we are currently working to assimilate them—despite our modest means.”

Sherzad Al-Yazidi, the official spokesperson for the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat that “What occurred in Tell Abyad, and is happening today in Ramilan and Serê Kaniyê (Ras Al-Ain), was elements and forces from the Free Syrian Army participating . . . in a race war against us.”

Yazidi claimed that FSA units had been brought in from Deir Ezzor and Raqqa to participate in the “race war,” and that they had “deliberate intentions” to “eliminate the model of Kurdish governance, which we have proposed for Syria overall—a model of coexistence and brotherhood, away from sectarianism and racism.” –  “Nevertheless,” he concluded, “what we see today in the Kurdish streets—a united youth who are willing to sacrifice their lives in defense of the freedom that they have achieved—confirms that enemies’ intentions will fail.”

For its part, PJAK, which is believed to be the Iranian wing of the PKK, stressed that the attacks against Kurdish citizens in Syria “calls for a collective stance from the rest of Kurdistan to advocate for their brothers there.”The group also called on “the Kurdish youth in the region to take up their responsibilities to their fellow Kurds in Syria.”

The PJAK is “fully prepared to send fighters to western Kurdistan to defend the gains that have been made there,” a statement said. “We have also provided our political and moral support to the struggle of the Kurdish people in west Kurdistan, so we are declaring our complete readiness to send fighters there.“Our army is a national and revolutionary army, and it is ready to meet national needs,” it concluded.

In a related development, the Kurdish Regional Government and the leading figures in the community are seeking to retrieve a number of young people who have joined Jabhat Al-Nusra to fight against the Assad regime with fellow Kurds in Syria. The Muslim Scholars’ Union of Kurdistan issued a statement saying that “recently, and far from Islamic and humanitarian values, a group claiming to be Islamic are violating the Syrian Kurds. Even though the popular front has transferred its confrontation from the regime to the people, they have recently issued fatwas to shed Kurdish blood. Worse than that is the number of Kurdish youths who have joined this front to fight their brothers under the pretext of jihad.”

The head of the Muslim Scholars’ Union of Kurdistan emphasized that these “criminal acts” are not in keeping with the principles of Islamic law, and that they are nothing but “attempts by those who use religion to cause chaos and tarnish the image of Islam.”

The union called on preachers and imams to take advantage of the holy month of Ramadan to advocate forgiveness and “prevent Kurdish youths from succumbing to misleading invitations to fight their brothers.”