MESOP TODAYS OPINION BY SHERI LAIZER : PYD imposed an ideological curriculum in schools – Property confiscations of Kurds by PYD/PKK

Turkey’s Operations in Syria on the 17th Anniversary of Ocalan’s Capture / by Sheri Laizer

15 Feb 2016 – ekurd – Entrenched positions on all sides make for an unpromising bid to end the conflict in Syria. Equally, opposing Kurdish factions leave the wider Kurdish issue open to perpetual strife with Kurds divided over the rightfulness of the PYD/PKK’s claim to represent their true voice.


Turkish President, Recep Tayyib Erdogan, was heard voicing strong complaint on board a flight following his official visits to Latin America and Senegal over US relations with the PYD.

Although the PYD was formally excluded from the UN hosted Syrian peace talks held last week in Geneva, US official, Brett McGurk, had openly visited Kobani and met a commander from the YPG, Polat Can, who presented him with a plaque during a photo opportunity to Ankara’s great vexation.1

“How can we trust you?” Erdogan asked the US. “Is it me or the terrorists that is your partner in Kobani?”2

The PYD and its supporters praise the bravery of its fighters including YPG’s Kurdish women fighters (YPJ) the Women’s Protection Units.3

Official statements by the YPG strongly condemn Turkish actions in Syria as supporting ISIS as Turkey is believed to have done in the past. YPG spokesmen claimed their group had crossed Turkey’s so-called “red line” in Syria and had extended their stage of operations west from the Euphrates river. According to Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman, Servan Derwes, “…Turkey is helping ISIL cross the border [into Syria] at Jarablus and allowing ISIL to breathe…”4


Turkey had warned the YPG not to move west of the Euphrates or they would likely face a military response. That response has begun.

”The Turkish army has already occupied two points inside the PYD-controlled area: Sarmisakh and Latifia villages now have Turkish soldiers inside them. The strange thing is that neither the Syrian regime nor the PYD talk about this much,” Hemo, (a pseudonym) a university graduate living in Kamishli, mused worriedly this week.

Turkey is almost certain to exploit the situation further relying on attacks on both the PKK and YPG guerrilla forces wherever they may be found.

Middle East Eye reported back in October how Turkish jets had bombed the PYD/YPG’s positions whilst ironically jets belonging to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group had supported YPG fighters on the ground.5

The deeper PYD-PKK relationship threatens to further undermine international relations and security in the Kurdish region of Syria. Not only confronted by the danger that continues to be posed by ISIS, many Syrian Kurds resent and fear the conduct of the PYD towards them and the more traditional Syrian Kurdish parties.

“Might is not right” exclaimed Suzan, a Kurdish mother of a young man considered by the PYD to be duty bound to obey the decree for compulsory recruitment into the YPG forces.

Reports abound of young Syrian Kurds being forcibly conscripted – kidnapped – by the YPG and made to fight ISIS. The militants are not heroes to all, despite the rhetoric.

“We call it Rojvala (empty Rojava),” said Hemo, “due to the migration of young Kurdish people fleeing the PYD/YPG’s obligatory recruitment drive as well as fear of ISIS.”

“Lately, “ he complained, “the PYD has issued a legislative decree in which they impose the sum of $1000 on every young man who wants to visit his parents in Rojava.

“The Christians are also accusing the PYD of carrying out two blasts in Wista suburb where the PYD’s YPG militias had tried to force the local Christians to accept them as guards of their suburb but the Christians refused.

PYD imposed an ideological curriculum in schools

The imposition of an ideological curriculum by the PYD has prevented thousands of pupils from attending school as the government has shut down schools run by the PYD.

According to Hemo whose own children have been affected, “pupils were attending some schools in the afternoon in “security square” such as Orouba, Hussein Idwani, Maan bin Zayada and so forth but the Asayish attacked the schools and threatened the pupils they would blow up the schools if they came. They even arrested Mrs. Zahra for shouting back at them. Now the poor students of Qamishli have only two schools outside the PYD’s control- Safeyyedin Alhulli and Zaki Arsouzi. More than 50 pupils have to gather in each classroom. “

Property confiscations

“The PYD functionaries have also started confiscating properties of emigrants or people who appear to have left Qamishli. For example, they have took over the property of Mamoun Jallad, the Caterpillar agent in Kamishly and the Hadaya Hotel owned by the Hadaya family as well as private homes. Naturally we are wondering where this is going to end.”

17th anniversary of PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan’s capture

The PYD – like other PKK affiliates – regards jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan as its leader despite his conditions as a long term captive in Turkey.

The Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) is likely to Ocalan afresh at any moment. Announcements by Turkish officials are timed close to the 17th anniversary of Ocalan’s capture from Kenya on 15 February 1999. Kurds and Turks have regularly clashed across Turkey as pro-PKK Kurds commemorate the annual event demanding Ocalan’s release and a negotiated settlement with the PKK.

A valuable pawn in Turkey’s extensive psychological and military arsenal against the PKK, Ocalan himself probably enjoys little independence to exercise his true voice. Mythologised into a Kurdish hero, the real man exists in a parallel universe to the propaganda machines and remains a key Turkish asset while remaining equally vital to PYD-PKK political machinery.

‘The resolution process is in the fridge. İmralı (the island where Ocalan is incarcerated) can never be and should definitely not be a counterpart for the government,” Erdoğan announced on 5 February.6

Entrenched positions on all sides make for an unpromising bid to end the conflict in Syria. Equally, opposing Kurdish factions leave the wider Kurdish issue open to perpetual strife with Kurds divided over the rightfulness of the PYD/PKK’s claim to represent their true voice.


Sheri Laizer, a Middle East and North African expert specialist and well known commentator on the Kurdish issue. She is a contributing writer for