ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – On Monday, in an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, a Syrian Kurdish writer and politician revealed several issues related to the Kurdish question during the Syrian civil war.
Salah Badruddin, born on March 11, 1945, sat with Kurdistan24 and discussed the latest clashes between the Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government forces in the country’s northeastern Kurdish city of Qamishlo.
Badruddin has published nearly 15 books on politics and the Kurdish question in the Middle East. He was the secretary of the Kurdish Democratic Leftist Party in Syria in 1970 and the founder of the Kurdish Kawa Cultural Society in Lebanon in 1975-78. He has also built strong ties with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and recently became the head of the Kurds-Arabs Friendship Association.
On the clashes that erupted between the Syrian Kurdish forces (Asayish & YPG) and the pro-Assad militia in Qamishlo two weeks ago, Badruddin said that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Syrian government were allies since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
“In the complicated world of politics, even allies sometimes clash, and up to the present moment, I haven’t seen PYD and the Syrian regime clashing seriously, and thus what happened recently in Qamishlo can be seen as a matter of disagreement between friends,” he said.
Badruddin then talked about the beginning of the Kurdish fighters’ deployment to northern Syria saying that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) supported the process since the eruption of the civil war in Syria.
“In 2011, nearly 3,000 Kurdish fighters came from PKK’s military base in Qandil Mountains near the Iraq-Turkey border, and their leadership had many meetings with President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, who served as Syria’s Deputy Defense Minister and was killed in 2012,” said Badruddin.
Badruddin added that Assef Shawkat met a group of PKK military senior commanders in 2011 aiming to revive an old friendship and reach an agreement under the title of Hostility to Turkey.
“The main aim of the PKK-Syrian government agreement was to exclude the Syrian Kurds from the Syrian Revolution,” he said.
On the reason behind the outbreak of YPG-Assad clashes in Qamishlo, Badruddin said that a semi-dissenting group within PYD planned to fight the regime directly, but the PYD leadership prevented the fighting from continuing.
“This semi-dissenting PYD group called for unifying the conflicted Kurdish parties and fighting the Syrian regime, but the PYD leadership rejected such demands,” he said.
PYD/YPG IN ALEPPO
On the presence of PYD and its military wing People’s Protection Unit (YPG) in Aleppo’s predominantly Kurdish neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud, Badruddin said that the Syrian regime describes the Syrian revolution as a civil war.
“The PYD-Assad agreement created a fissure between the Arabs and Kurds in Syria when the YPG prevented the opposition forces from entering Sheikh Maqsoud,” he said.
Badruddin added that the PYD presence is not for the benefit of the Syrian revolution as they control Aleppo's northern outskirts and areas along the Castello Road, the opposition's only way in and out of the city.
“The opposition forces, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), lost a lot of fighters to control the northern areas of Aleppo, but the PYD-Assad alliance prevented it,” he said.
FEDERALISM FOR ROJAVA
On the announcement of a federal system in Syria’s northern Kurdish areas by the PYD-led ruling council, known as Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), Badruddin said that the Kurdish-announced federalism does not affect the secret relations between the PYD and the Syrian regime.
“The federal system announced by the PYD-led council is one-sided, and its framework and structure are not clear to the Syrian people while the Kurdish liberation movement that started in Syria in 1957 is still clear in terms of demands and goals,” he said.
“Neither the Syrian government nor the opposition recognizes this one-sided federalism; moreover, no political project can be established as long as Assad’s government and forces are present in the Kurdish areas in Syria,” said Badruddin.
Badruddin suggested that there should be a political solution that benefits the Syrian Kurds and addresses the Kurdish question in Syria.
“Kurds in Syria form 15 percent of the country’s population, so no political resolution for Syria can be agreed on without a collective agreement by all social components of Syria,” he said.
Badruddin further pointed out that solving the Kurdish question in Syria requires resolving the Kurdish internal disputes, the Kurdish agreement with the other ethnic and social factions in Syria, and the establishment of a democratic atmosphere that guarantees the achievement of rights.
US & RUSSIA EXPLOIT YPG
On the support that the YPG receives in their fight against the Islamic State (IS), Badruddin said having support by two conflicting world powers, such as US and Russia, means that the provision is not in the favor of the YPG, but rather for the benefit of the said world powers.
“No world power recognized the federal system announced by the PYD-led council, and until this moment there is no official statement on the support or approval of the announced federal system in northern Syria,” he said.
Badruddin added that the only clear recognition so far is that the US and the Western countries consider the Kurdistan Region of Iraq the ally and center of operations against IS.
“US supports the YPG only militarily not politically, just because they are an effective force on the ground fighting IS,” he said.
Regarding the Russian intervention in the Syrian war, Badruddin pointed out that Russia has wide control over the Syrian government and opposition.
“Out of the 100 members participating in Geneva talks, 80 were on the Russian side, and even the representative office for the Syrian Kurds in Moscow is not considered official by the Russian government, but rather it is considered a mere organizational one, not diplomatic,” said Badruddin.
On the effective role of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) support for the Syrian Kurds, Badruddin said that President Masoud Barzani is aware of the delicacy of both Kurdish conflicting parties in Syria. He added that neither of them can manage the situation in Rojava, yet Barzani still supports them.
“President Barzani said several times that KRG mediated to solve the rifts between the conflicting Kurdish parties in Syria, but unfortunately, PYD did not abide by the agreements,” he said.
Regarding the ineffective role of Syria’s Kurdish National Council (ENKS), which is supposed to share the authority over the Kurdish areas in Syria with the PYD-led council, Badruddin said the conflicting parties overruling Rojava are delicate and prefer their personal interests to the national Kurdish interest.
“In Syria’s Kurdish uprising in 2004, Kurds had to make a great Kurdish revolution, but because of the internal conflicts between the Kurdish parties, the uprising was suppressed easily by the Syrian regime at that time,” Badruddin said.
Badruddin added that Syria’s Kurdish parties should realize that President Barzani is a mediator for the negotiations, and is not fully responsible for solving the political rifts among the Kurdish parties in Syria.
Regarding his recently harsh criticism towards the PKK and PYD in his books and articles, Badruddin said that the PKK has deviated from its original path.
“Instead of fighting their enemy that is supposed to be Turkey, PKK has been fighting the successful experience of the Kurdistan Region.
Badruddin argues that the PKK, and their branch PYD, caused the Syrian Kurds to be excluded from the Syrian revolution.
“I see the PKK as a radical and adventurous party whose autocratic practices caused many political rifts between the Kurdish parties in Syria,” Badruddin concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany