Syrian Peace Impossible Without Kurds, Leader Says

Sole representation demanding

“The PYD informed us that whoever attends the Geneva conference will be PYD’s representative as well,” said Darwish.

By ZEKİ OZMEN – RUDAW – 9.2.2014 – GENEVA, – The Syrian crisis cannot be resolved without recognizing Kurdish rights, according to Abdulhamid Haji Darwish, who represented the divided Kurds at last month’s Geneva II conference. “I can say that whoever deprives the Kurds of their rights will not be able to rule Syria. The Kurds’ demands should be taken into consideration,” said Darwish, who heads the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party (KDPP) in Syria and represented the Kurdish National Council (KNC) in Geneva.

The KNC was the main component of the Syrian National Coalition, which was responsible for dealing with the Syrian government at the talks.

 But the delegation was criticized for not including all Kurdish groups, most notably the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the main force in Syrian Kurdistan and has declared autonomy there.  Darwish told Rudaw that the Kurds attended the conference to tell all parties they had ambitions of their own for the future of Syria. He said future Syrian rulers should respect the Kurdish people and their rights if they want to succeed. “We don’t ask anyone to become our ally to meet our demands,” he said. “We went to Geneva II with goodwill and our demands were clear.”

Darwish, who met with US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva, said that the Kurds make up a significant part of the Syrian population and that only their involvement can bring change to Syria.

“We are from Syria,” he said. “The Syrian people and we, together, will change Syria; together we will secure the rights of Kurds. In my opinion, a considerable portion of the Syrian people supports our rights.” Darwish was one of few Kurds who appeared at the conference in Geneva. He said that the PYD had initially agreed that Darwish and other Kurds would represent them in Geneva, but had later backtracked on that decision.

“The PYD informed us that whoever attends the Geneva conference will be PYD’s representative as well,” said Darwish. “At that time I was the only one who was going to attend the conference. But later on they backtracked from their position,” he claimed. Darwish said that the PYD’s declaration of autonomous administrations in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), the day before the Geneva talks, was a mistake.

“They should not have done that. We are friends. We are Kurds. Just like the PYD, more or less, we have practiced politics as well. We also know how to defend the rights of Kurds.” Darwish said that his party is willing to mend relations with the PYD, which is loyal to Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKIK), but that it cannot force an alliance. “I can say that we are ready. I also can say that my friends will not have any problems with that either. But we can’t tell them come and join us. The PYD should stay behind us and support us.”

Darwish said that, despite the Damascus regime’s intransigence toward seeking a solution to the nearly three-year-old crisis, a resolution is possible. “Whoever listened to the speech delivered by the Syrian foreign minister was disappointed,” Darwish said. “It was a very bad statement. It was nothing. Everyone was desperately waiting to hear something positive, but his statements were not constructive.” But despite all of these, we are optimistic that the Syrian people will find peace,” Darwish added.

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