Syria’s Kurds Formally Join Opposition Coalition / AL MONITOR

By: Ibrahim Hemeidi Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab). 29.8.2013 –  Officials in the opposition’s Syrian National Coalition, led by Ahmad al-Jarba, and the Kurdish National Council (KNC), led by Abdel Hakim Bashar, signed an agreement that resulted in Bashar being appointed vice president of the National Coalition and the Kurdish entity joining the opposition bloc. However, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, told Al-Hayat that he rejects any agreement that is not signed with the Kurdish Supreme Committee.

Abdel Hamid Darwish, head of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party, told Al-Hayat that the talks between the National Coalition and the KNC culminated in a 16-article agreement that was signed by both parties in Istanbul a day earlier. The agreement includes recognizing the constitutional rights of the Kurdish people and changing the name of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Syrian Republic, as well as including 11 members of the KNC in the National Coalition’s 114-member general commission and adding three members to the political commission, composed of 19 members.

Muslim commented on the agreement, saying, “As long as it was not concluded with the Kurdish Supreme Committee, we will not accept it.” Moreover, he noted that nobody contacted him to discuss the matter before signing, despite the fact that he is working on forming a transitional civil administration to manage the northeastern and northern Syrian regions.

The Kurdish Supreme Committee was formed from the KNC, which includes several political parties, and the PYD, which represents the Council of Western Kurdistan. However, the disagreements between both parties froze their cooperation. Moreover, military forces — including over 30,000 militants that have fought battles against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Jabhat al-Nusra near the Turkish border — are affiliated with the PYD.  

The KNC’s Foreign Relations Committee — which includes Bashar, Darwish and others — held talks with leaders in the National Coalition. As a result, an agreement was reached to pave the way for the Kurdish entity joining the Syrian political bloc. As part of the agreement, the coalition confirmed its commitment to the “constitutional recognition of the Kurdish people’s national identity, considering the Kurdish affair an integral part of the general national cause in the country, the recognition of the national rights of the Kurdish people in the framework of the unity of the Syrian people and lands, the cancelation of all discriminatory politics, decrees and measures against Kurdish citizens, the treatment of their effects and repercussions, granting the victims compensation and returning rights to their rightful owners.”

The draft of the agreement set forth that the National Coalition considers the new Syria “a democratic, civil and pluralistic state with a parliamentary republican rule that is based on the principle of equal citizenship, separation of powers, rotation of power, sovereignty of the law and adoption of the system of administrative decentralization in a way that promotes the privileges of the local authorities.” Darwish confirmed that the Kurdish side remained reserved on this provision since it considered that “the best form of the Syrian state would be a federal one,” adding that it will work on achieving this form “without obstructing the Kurds’ joining the National Coalition.”

Sources reported that two copies of the agreement were signed yesterday [Aug. 27]. The KNC will approve the agreement during its next meeting on Sept. 6, while the National Coalition will approve the text during the meeting of its general committee on Sept. 14. The agreement also appointed Bashar as vice president of the coalition.

Kurdish Leader Saleh Keddo also objected to the agreement, saying in a statement that the delegation “was not authorized to sign the joining process and that the KNC is the sole party capable of taking such a pivotal decision.”

In this regard, Muslim called for “a transparent investigation” into the chemical attack on the west and east Ghouta regions in Damascus. He also noted the importance of holding the perpetrators of the attack accountable before the International Criminal Court. Muslim added, “The Syrian regime is not so stupid as to initiate such an attack during the presence of the investigators. Therefore, a transparent investigation must be conducted to unveil the truth.”

Media outlets have reported Muslim as saying that he does not believe that the Syrian regime is stupid enough to use chemical weapons. He also indicated that “the attack that the opposition claims was launched by the government and killed hundreds of people was only done to blame President Bashar al-Assad and provoke an international reaction.”

The presidency of the [Iraqi] Kurdistan Region ruled out military intervention to protect Kurds in Syria. Furthermore, Chief of Staff to the President of the Kurdistan Region Fouad Hussein told Reuters that the policies of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region consist of avoiding military intervention in Syrian affairs, and he expressed his belief that the Kurds in Syria have someone to protect them.

Hussein added, “We are concerned that Syrian Kurdistan might become deserted because if its inhabitants left, there would no longer be a Kurdish cause in Syria, and we would lose that part of Kurdistan.”

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