Kurdish Youth Groups in Syria Blame Opposition Parties for Divisions

by RUDAW  – By Bradost Azizi – 17.5.2013 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish youth groups have played an active role in the Syrian uprising, but now remain divided because of interference by political groups, some members of the dozens of youth organizations complain.

“From day one, the political parties started intervening in the youth groups’ affairs,” complained Ibrahim Murad, a member of the Syrian National Council (SNC) from the Kurdish Youth Assembly. “They forced the youth groups to submit to their agenda by generating divisions among them,” he charged. The former deputy of the Syrian Kurdish National Council (KNC) estimated the number of Syrian Kurdish youth groups at around 60. “During my term, around 60 youth groups applied to become members of the KNC,” said Khalil Jamil, former deputy of the KNC.

The youth groups have had a special place in the KNC due to their active role in the revolution from the beginning. However, continuing divisions have minimized their impact, on an uprising that is in its third year and has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives.

The youth groups played an effective role in planning demonstrations in Syria’s Kurdish regions. The Kurdish Youth Coordination Union was the first group that was founded in March 2011.

After the formation of KNC, disagreements emerged among the group over their participation in the council. As a result, some of members left the group and formed a new group under the name Kurdish Youth Movement. Mustafa Cuma, general-secretary of the Kurdish Freedom Party in Syria, dismissed that the parties were directly involved in creating divisions.  “To the contrary, the political parties have always tried to encourage the youth groups to become more involved,” he said. But he admitted that differences between the political parties had impacted the youth groups negatively.  “Since the youth are an important part of society, the political parties have attempted to use them for political gain,” he added. In an attempt to unify the Kurdish youth groups in Syria, the KNC arranged a conference three months ago to gather all the groups under one umbrella; but most refused to participate in the conference. Sipan Saida, member of the Sawa Youth Group that has recently become united with the Kurdish Youth Assembly, said that any group that believes in unity is welcome to join. “The youth’s main concern should be the national concerns. They shouldn’t become part of the political parties’ problems,” he said. The Kurdish population in Syria is estimated at around 3 million people. So far, 25 political parties and 60 youth groups have been formed since the start of the revolution. “This is a large number for such a small population,” Jamil said.