Tensions with PYD Push Kurdish Parties to Unite in Kobane

05/11/2012 RUDAW By WLADIMIR van WILGENBURG – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Abdulhakim Bashaar, secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (KDP-S), released a statement last week that said his party had united with the Kurdish Unity Party and Freedom Party in Kobane. The move followed an incident where the People’s Defence Units (YPG) – an extension of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — told nine Kurdish parties in Kobane not to raise the Syrian independence flag. This led to tensions, with the Kurdish National Council (KNC) accusing the PYD of imposing its will.

Recently, fighting broke out between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and combatants of the PYD in the Ashrafiyeh district of Aleppo and rural areas of the province. Dozens were killed and hundreds of Kurds were kidnapped – and later released — by the FSA. The fight not only led to tensions between the Syrian opposition and the PYD, but also between the PYD and the other Kurdish parties united in the KNC, who signed an agreement in July 2012 to jointly administer the Kurdish areas of Syria.

According to YPG spokesperson Sipan Hamou, who spoke with Al Kurdiya News, nine Kurdish parties were told to lower the Syrian independence flag in order to “not provoke the public” in light of the events in Ashrafiyeh. The PYD sees the flag as representing the FSA. The YPG said the removal was not forced, but other Kurdish parties do not agree. After the incident, the KDP-S moved 150 armed men to protect its offices, according to Kurdish news site Welati. Moreover, local KNC representatives in Efrin and Aleppo suspended their membership in the unity agreement, and the KDP-S withdrew from the agreement, accusing the PYD of kidnapping Bahzad Dorsin, a member of its political bureau.

After the incidents in Kobane, the KNC held a demonstration on Tuesday against the actions of the PYD, calling for Kurdish unity instead of “Kurdish-Kurdish conflict.”

Heyam Aqil, the London representative of the KDP-S, told Rudaw that the party united with the others in order to lead the political movement in Kobane. “It’s a step that will lead to further unity between the three parties and a strategic need at this stage,” she said. Aqil added that Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan region, always “encouraged unity.” Despite the fact that the parties all belong to the KNC, they still follow different political strategies and do not agree on all points.

Thomas McGee, an independent expert on Syrian Kurds, told Rudaw that Barzani pressed the three parties to work together and promised them more support in meetings in June in Erbil. “The three have been trying to get together for a long time and it was mentioned that Barzani had promised to open a TV channel for them if they could coordinate.” The Syrian opposition has Orient TV, broadcast from the United Arab Emirates, and the PYD has the support of Ronahi TV. Both channels were launched after the revolution in 2011. The parties in the KNC do not have their own channel yet. This Friday, demonstrations that call for an end to the strife between the FSA and Kurds, and also between Kurds and Kurds, are expected, according to a statement from the Kurdish Youth Movement.