Syrian Kurdish Politicians React to Turkish Foreign Minister’s Visit

07/08/2012RUDAW – By HEMIN KHOSHNAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdish National Council (KNC) told Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that its agreement with the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan is strategic. The People’s Council is linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Turkey has been alarmed by the growing influence of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the PYD in Kurdish areas of Syria.

During his visit to Erbil last week, Davutoglu held a meeting with KNC leaders in the presence of Kurdistan Region officials. Although the Kurdish Supreme Committee, responsible for administering “liberated” Kurdish areas in Syria, was invited to the meeting, the five PYD members of the body were not.

The Erbil Agreement, signed between the PYD and KNC on July 11, binds the groups to jointly govern Kurdish regions of Syria. The Kurdish Supreme Committee was formed in the implementation of the agreement and is composed of an equal number of members from both parties.

 But KNC leaders say they were not told they would meet with Davutoglu and it was “a surprise” for them to see the Turkish foreign minister in the room.

Ismail Hama, head of the KNC, said the group’s members were under the impression that they would meet with a delegation from the Syrian National Council (SNC), which represents most Arab opposition groups in Syria.

“Davutoglu expressed Turkey’s concerns about the establishment of the Kurdish Supreme Committee and said that the PYD is part of the PKK. He also said that it was unacceptable for Turkey to have the PYD take over Kurdish areas,” Hama told Rudaw. He added, “The Turkish foreign minister said that if the PYD cut its relations with the PKK, they would have no problem with them and could even then meet with them. He also said that the PYD should clearly spell out its position vis-à-vis the Syrian regime.”

Many believe the PYD has an agreement with President Bashar al-Assad to not act against him, even as Syrian rebels are fighting regime forces in various parts of the country. The PYD is currently the dominant force in several Kurdish towns and cities that have fallen under Kurdish control after the withdrawal of Assad’s forces.Hama said the Turkish foreign minister urged the KNC to unite with the SNC, adding that “if the two councils unite, Turkey will not stand against the resolution of the Kurdish question in Syria.”

But Hama said the KNC told Davutoglu, “We have reached an agreement with the PYD about Assad’s fall. Kurdish unity serves Syrian unity and revolution and the PYD is a Syrian Kurdish party.”

The KNC leaders also urged Davutoglu to peacefully resolve the Kurdish question in Turkey. Saad Mala, a political bureau member of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria, said Davutoglu’s remarks amounted to setting limitations for Kurds.

“Davutoglu’s message was that Turkey will not accept the creation of a Kurdish entity within Syria, but that Kurds can attain their cultural rights. He also expressed concern about Kurdish unity. In other words, Davutoglu told us diplomatically that a Kurdish entity and unity are forbidden,” Mala said.

He added that Kurds at the meeting did not fail to challenge Davutoglu.

Ahmad Suleiman, the official spokesman for the Kurdish Supreme Committee, told the Turkish minister that the agreement between PYD and KNC would continue and that he should negotiate to resolve the Kurdish issue in Syria and Turkey.

Mala told Rudaw, “Suleiman told Davutoglu that if the PYD is part of the PKK, then the BDP (Peace and Democracy Party), that has deputies in Turkish Parliament, is also part of the PKK. So why is what is allowed for you forbidden to us? The PYD is a Syrian organization and is different from the PKK.”

Kamaran Haji Abdo, a member of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, said he can understand why the PYD is concerned about Turkey’s role.

“If Kurds strengthen their unity in Syrian Kurdistan, Turkey will be forced to sit down with the PYD,” said Abdo.

Aldar Khalil, another member of the Kurdish Supreme Committee with ties to the PYD, believes the Turkish foreign minister visited the Kurdistan Region to “plant sedition” among Kurds. “Davutoglu follows the culture of the Ottomans who were experts at dividing Kurds and other nations under their control,” said Khalil. “Even his meeting with (SNC head) Abdulbasit Sieda was an attempt to deepen the divisions between the Kurdistan Region and Syria.”

Khalil said KNC’s participation in the meeting with the Turkish foreign minister was “irresponsible,” but added that “we will mitigate Davutoglu’s efforts and be committed to Kurdish unity.”