Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD)
party says Turkey should not fear its rise
August 7, 2012
Salih Muslim, leader of the
biggest Kurdish party in Syria, the
Democratic Union Party [PYD], and
Vice-President of the National Coordination.
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QAMISHLI, Syrian Kurdistan,— A Kurdish party
that is extending its power in Syrian Kurdistan
(northern Syria) as President Bashar al-Assad
battles an insurgency raging elsewhere, warned
Turkey not to interfere in the region where it fears
rising separatist militancy along its border.
Turkey is alarmed at the growing influence of the
Democratic Union Party (PYD) and suspects it of
links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which
has fought a 28-year separatist conflict in Turkey
that has killed more than 40,000 people.
Turkey says it will not allow "terrorist" groups to
gain a foothold across the border in Syria, where
Kurds make up some 10 percent of the total
population - part of an ethnic group of millions
that also reaches into Iraq and Iran.
"Turkey has nothing to do with the Syrian Kurds,"
PYD leader Mohammed Saleh Muslim shot back, denying
anything more than ideological affinity with the PKK.
"The protection of my people in my areas, in my
town: that is my right, no-one can deny it, and
that's what we did. So there is no need for Turkey
to be worried and make threats," he told Reuters via
telephone from the Syrian city of Qamishli.
Saleh Muslim said the Syrian towns of Kobane, Derik
and Efrin were now under Kurdish control.
A 17-month-old uprising against Assad is seen by
Syrian Kurds as an opportunity to win the power
enjoyed by their ethnic kin in northern Iraq where
they live semi-autonomously from Baghdad.
But Syria's Kurds are not politically united and
rivalries between the PYD and another group, the
Kurdish National Council (KNC), have at times
threatened to spiral into intra-Kurdish conflict.
Last month, the two parties signed a pact to form a
joint council, presenting a united front to work for
Kurdish interests in a post-Assad Syria.
But that unity may be less strong in reality than on
The PYD was notably absent at a meeting in Iraqi
Kurdistan last week between Turkish Foreign Minister
Ahmet Davutoglu, the opposition Syrian National
Council (SNC) and the KNC, to discuss the future
Syria and the need for a peaceful solution to
Turkey's Kurdish question.
"We did not join it because they didn't invite us,"
Saleh Muslim told Reuters.
"MARGINALISE THE PYD"
Ankara has established closer ties with Massoud
Barzani, the president of Iraq's Kurdistan region,
as it looks to expand business and energy stakes in
northern Iraq - a rapprochement that analysts say
could help Turkey gain leverage over Syria's Kurds.
"I think they (Turkey) are trying to marginalise the
PYD in Syria by establishing good relations with the
Kurdish National Council, which is very close to
Masoud Barzani," said Jordi Tejel Gorgas, author of
a book about Syrian Kurds.
Following the meeting in the Iraqi Kurd capital
Erbil, the KNC's head of foreign relations, Abdul
Hakim Bashar, described Davutoglu's position as
"more advanced than before".
SNC President Abdulbaset Sieda, himself a Kurd, said
it had not been Turkey's decision to leave the PYD
out of the meeting and welcomed all parties
committed to bringing down Assad.
"We hope from our brothers in the PYD that they will
focus on the Syrian national project," Sieda told
the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper,
reflecting doubts about the PYD's priorities.
Turkey's support for the SNC has made it the object
of suspicion among many Syrian Kurds.
"The Syrian National Council continues to take one
step forward and one step back and is taking orders
from parties who will remain unnamed," Saleh Muslim
"The Syrian Kurds are part of the Syrian people and
the solution to the issue will be in Damascus".
Rivals accuse the PYD of being more interested in
pursuing its own agenda, or the PKK's, than
overthrowing Assad, and even of being in league with
him, noting that PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was
sheltered for years by Assad's late father,www.ekurd.net
Some credit Kurdish territorial gains to Bashar al-Assad,
who they say willingly handed control over three
towns to the PYD in order to intimidate Turkey.
Saleh Muslim scoffed at the suggestion and said such
accusations were nothing more than an attempt to
sully the PYD's reputation.
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