SALIH MUSLIM : Relations between Arabs & Kurds, & the current situation in Syrian Kurdistan

Rojava News – QAMISHLI, Syrian Kurdistan, 26-11-2013 –  A new interview with Sahil Muslim by M. Ali Çelebi has been published in Özgür Gündem. Below is a translation of certain segments, in which Muslim talks about efforts to prevent inter-communal fighting, relations between Arabs and Kurds, and the current situation in Syrian Kurdistan [Rojava] more generally.

On the subject of recent developments in Rojava a number of recent claims attributed to you are being debated; you said that the Arabs settled in Kurdish cities were certainly some day need to be removed and that Arab-Kurdish fighting will certainly break out.

No, I took pains on that subject. It not like that. Some are asking about the situation in Qamişlo, and some are asking about the situation in Hesekê. For example there is a balance in Hesekê. There is regime presence. There is an Arab neighborhood, and Kurds also have their own neighborhoods. Certainly some things will happen so that this balance is established. I mean we said it could not go on like this. Here we have taken pains so that fighting and disputes do not arise and we do not see a return to an Arab-Kurdish war. Everywhere we are being extremely sensitive so that there is no return to such a war. We are approaching it very sensitively. From the beginning we also brought attention to this in Rojava.

Are there any parties that are working openly or in an underhanded fashion to start an Arab-Kurdish War?

It is true. There are some working for war. Theses Salafis are supported by Turkey and have been openly plundering everything Kurds have. Up to now they have also bombed houses. Saying things “Kurds must leave this area, Kurds are infidels” and so on and so forth. In fact they even forced Kurds in some villages to fight against other Kurds. It is no good to try and provoke everyone against the Kurds. There are many various provocations and we have drawn attention to them. For example attacks in the Aleppo region have continued. Most of our people have moved away from there, from Eşrefiye and Şêx Meqsûd.

What is the situation concerning the return of those who have moved away from Syrian Kurdistan [Rojava]?

Some are now returning. But there is still fighting and it is continuing there. Not with us but mostly with other groups. If there is stability then people will return to their homes.

What kind of progress was made in the first meetings of Constituent Assembly?

Work is ongoing. Everyone needs to take part in the Constituent Assembly. There has been a division of work. (One committee) is working on a social contract. Another on the charter. Another are working on the election organizations. Shortly everything will come out.

Efrîn, Kobanê, Cizîr and been formed into cantons. People are wondering about the economic model…?

The cantons were modeled on Switzerland. It will be supported by a social economy and social production. It will be in the form of cooperatives. The people’s joint production will be in the form of productive and consumptive cooperatives.

That Arab Belt policy required that Kurds were not given identity papers. Those Kurds who were not given identity papers have still not received any kind of official documents. Will Rojava in the course of its election preparations produce Kurdistan identity papers or passports?

We have been saved from that problem. Everyone has come and applied. Everyone has identity papers.

Rojava Identity Papers?

The identity papers of Syrian citizenship. Rojava is a region. The people are administering themselves. Until a solution is found in Syria. There is nothing separate, or a separate state or plan to draw up separate borders. Whatever happens, it will happen with a solution found in the whole of Syria. There a solution will certainly be found. Together with that which is forming over there. There are Arabs, there are Kurds, there are Asuris and Assyrians. They will all come together and will certainly arrive at a suitable solution.

For example what organizations are distributing identities to newly born children or working on voting registration?

Every city has a census office. Registrations are being done everywhere.

On November 17th three people from Rojava were killed on the border by Qamişlo by individuals firing from Turkey…

It was unquestionably an execution. Rıght now it is mostly civilians who are crossing back and forth. To fire right away is unquestionably an execution. It cannot be this way. And people are also talking about torture. Of these three people two were Arabs. From the local people. They were only going to work. A normal crossing. A kind of crossing that happens everyday. What the state’s forces did was a terrible thing. Something that should not to happen.

Right before the President Barzani of the KRG came to Diyarbakir he made a statement saying that the PYD had not made a revolution in Rojava…

This was an unfortunate statement. Something that should not have happened. This kind of statement is said out of regard for someone else. It was an untrue statement. The one who said that needs to speak fairly and offer a correction.

What kind of results came out of the Barzani-Erdoğan meeting in Diyarbakir?

We took it as a normal visit. But of course we do not know what they spoke about behind closed doors. We hope that nothing comes out of it that would harm our people. For example it could have contributed to the peace process. It could have done something for to bring peoples closer together. But nothing like that happened. Only two remarks were made, and that too was to get behind Erdoğan, nothing else. There could have been more of a contribution made. The people of Diyarbakir are Barzani’s people. He could have sat down with them, chatted and found out what their views were. If he had sat down with the BDP and seen what he could do to help, how he could make a contribution it would have been better. Also in terms of getting close to the people.

Once again Ali Avni, a member of the KDP’s presidential council, has called you a “dictator”…

I don’t know [what he meant]. One needs to ask him while also asking “do you know Salih Muslim.” He will say “no.” So where do you get this from? It is a very unjust thing I mean. Something that shouldn’t happen.

After the meeting are you expecting anything from the KDP government such as the opening of the Peşxabur border gate?

No, nothing like that.

What exactly does the KDP want?

That needs to be asked to them. There is no PYD problem in Rojava, there there is a people. The people are organizing themselves. They are protecting their dignity. They are forming their own organizations. Some administrative bodies are being formed in order to meet certain needs. This has nothing to do with the PYD. Why are they attacking the PYD so much? If they want power to be shared then let them share it with the people. Not with the PYD. Because the PYD has never been a power nor does it want to be a power. If they are saying I do want the people there to be in power then let them share with the people.

Are there still those insisting on there being a second military force in Rojava?

The man who said that was Abdulhekim Başar. He wanted to have a force connected to him inside of Syria.

While the Iranian Nuclear negotiations were taking place in Geneza between November 21-23 the UN special representative for Syria Ibrahimi also went to the city. He met with the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran about Syria. While Erdoğan was meeting with Putin he also expressed his wishes concerning Geneva-2. Seeing that everyone wants [these talks] what is the problem then?

Some want to tie the Geneva-2 talks to the Iranian problem. Some want to stipulate conditions. I think that the two are separate issues. However both are subjects that interest us. I do not know how it will come out or be debated. But a Geneva-2 in 2013 is looking difficult.

What are they main points of the file that you will bring to Geneva?

Things related to the Kurdish issue. Recognition…the democratic rights of the Kurds…constitutional existence, the subject of constitutional guarantees…in fact we are working together with some Arab organizations on Syria generally.