PYD displays its flag in Ras al-Ain after many months

 Ali Avni from Barzani’s party — the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) — said they did not want a “dictator like Saleh Muslim in the place of a dictator like [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.”

18 November 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL– Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), displayed its flag in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain next to the flag of the Syrian Supreme Kurdish Council on Monday.

The PYD flag, which replaced the flag of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) on July 19 after the Syrian Kurdish group seized control of the Syrian town on the Turkish border, was removed from the top of an abandoned factory a few days later, July 26, following concerns from Ankara.

The Syrian town is some 100 meters away from the Turkish border and the PYD flag can once again clearly be seen from the Turkish side.

The PYD had seized control of Ras al-Ain following days of clashes with fighters affiliated with the al-Nusra Front. However, the capture of the town by the Syrian Kurdish group fueled Ankara’s fears that the emergence of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria could embolden homegrown terrorists of the PKK, which is fighting for autonomy in Turkey.

Turkey warned the Syrian Kurdish party against any unilateral move to establish an autonomous region in Syria’ north right after its flag was raised in Ras al-Ain and hosted the PYD leader Saleh Muslim in the capital in July to warn him against “dangerous steps” his group took in the north. After Muslim’s visit to Turkey, the PYD replaced its flag with the flag of the Syrian Kurdish Council — an umbrella organization that includes the PYD — a move interpreted as a step back from its earlier position.

Monday’s flag incident comes at a time when relations between the PYD and Turkey are strained since the Syrian Kurdish group announced last week that it was establishing an interim administration in Kurdish-held areas that aims to carve out an autonomous Syrian Kurdish region.Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called on the PYD last Thursday to make clear who it is siding with. “The PYD must make a decision on whether it is against the Syrian regime or siding with the regime. Is the PYD aiming to play a role in the future of Syria by siding with a regime that has oppressed the Kurdish people for decades?” Davutoğlu asked.At a time when Turkey’s relations with the PYD are fluctuating, the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Massoud Barzani, visited Turkey on Saturday. Barzani’s administration and the PYD are currently at odds, as the PYD’s announcement of an interim administration goes against the wishes of political leaders in Kurdish-run northern Iraq.

The KRG has expressed its discomfort over the PYD’s stance in northern Syria, saying it has gone too far in committing violence against other Kurdish groups in Syria.

 In a statement published last Thursday, Barzani said: “In the last few days, the PYD has unilaterally declared its own administration in Western Kurdistan. We reiterate our position that we would only support efforts backed by all sides. We would not deal with any one-sided decisions. If the PYD continues to ignore others, it surely cannot, on its own, face the challenges and dangers ahead. And, as a result, the fate of the Kurds will be gravely endangered. If all parties do not return to the Arbil agreement … the PYD will bear responsibility for this lost historic opportunity.”

Barzani and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan agreed during a meeting on Saturday in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır that the KRG would not allow a de facto PYD government in the northeast of Syria, according to Prime Ministry sources.

 In the last round of disagreements between the PYD and Iraqi Kurdistan, Ali Avni from Barzani’s party — the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) — said they did not want a “dictator like Saleh Muslim in the place of a dictator like [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.”