Main Syrian Kurdish Group Sees EU as Example for Kurds / SALIH MUSLIM : “NO” TO KURDISH STATE !

by RUDAW – 19.5.2013 – By Wladimir van Wilgenburg and Sofia Barbarani

LONDON – Syria’s most powerful Kurdish opposition group sees the European Union (EU) as a more viable model for Syrian Kurds than Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, its leader said.

“I can be a Kurd living in Syria, and another can be living in Iran, and we’re all together in the democratic confederation of the Middle East — all together ” said Salih Muslim, head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most dominant Kurdish force in Syria. “At that time, the Kurds can be united without changing any borders,” he told Rudaw, during a recent diplomatic visit to London. The PYD, widely seen as the Syrian arm of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, has had tense relations with the larger Kurdish Supreme Council (KSC) in Syria.

Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has tried to unite the Syrian Kurdish opposition groups, which remain plagued by divisions as the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad is in its third year, with an estimated 70,000 people dead.

An agreement signed in Erbil between the PYD and Kurdish National Council (KNC) last July, to jointly monitor the affairs of Kurdish cities in Syria, did little to stem differences and failed to have a large impact on the ground. Another effort at unity by Erbil earlier this month reportedly also received a lukewarm response by the PYD. According to the NGO KurdWatch, the PYD declined to sit at the table with members of Mustafa Cummaa’s Azadi (freedom) Party, accusing it of involvement in the killing of Kurds, and instead met separately with Barzani.   But Muslim denied his party is against a power-sharing agreement with the other Kurdish groups. He said that any disagreement between his and other parties is insignificant and local. Muslim also emphasised Turkey’s role in the troubled relations between Kurds and the Syrian opposition, blaming Ankara for problems between the Kurds and Free Syrian Army (FSA). Muslim has lately visited several European countries, such as Germany, France, Holland and the United Kingdom, and he was recently in Moscow for a conference on the Kurds and Syria.  “We have to do something. Maybe the government does not accept to receive us. But we are knocking on every door to explain the demands of the Kurdish people,” he said about his travels.

Muslim said his group was not against the Erbil Agreement.

“The Erbil agreement is like a gift from Mr Barzani to the Kurdish people, and we don’t like to break it up. But what happened is not about the agreement” Muslim said. He added that the problem stems from disagreements within the KNC, which was formed in October 2011, under Barzani’s sponsorship.   According to a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), the formation of the Kurdish Democratic Union within the KNC in December 2012 — a group uniting four of Barzani’s leading KNC members — increased disagreements.

“Internal KNC divisions appear to further narrow the possibility for agreement (between the Syrian Kurdish factions),” the ICG report said.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Barzani, has been focused on empowering the pro-Barzani faction within the KNC, according to the ICG.   Muslim welcomed any mediation efforts by Iraqi Kurds and Barzani, but rejected support by Barzani for rival factions of the PYD.   “We don’t want him to extend his hand to help one party against another. We don’t want anyone to be involved in internal relations, because we know what to do. We are able to solve our problems,” he said.  Muslim further reiterated that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is not an example for Syrian Kurds. “We won’t be like them because our situation is different”, he said. ”But we are very careful. We don’t want to draw any lines between the Kurds and Arabs, so we can have our rights within one Syria, not a divided Syria,” he said.  “We are not regarding the KRG as an example for us.”