BRUSSELS, Belgium (Kurdistan24) – In an interview with Kurdistan24 on Friday, a prominent Syrian Kurdish leader discussed the recent US decision of arming the Syrian Kurds and the escalating relations with Turkey.
US ARMING SYRIAN KURDS
Saleh Muslim, the co-president of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the main ruling party of Syria’s northern and northeastern predominantly Kurdish areas known as Rojava, said the American support for the Syrian Kurds has nothing to do with the problems between Turkey and the PKK.
“American support for the People's Protection Units (YPG) is military in form, but political in content,” he said.
Muslim further explained that the US decision was issued by the White House and president Trump.
“The decision came after about three years of the alliance between Washington and the YPG and after mutual trust,” Muslim said.
Commenting on Turkey's concern over the US military support for the Syrian Kurds, Muslim said, “Turkey claims that the weapons may be used to attack Turkey or to be given to PKK.”
“YPG and YPJ are defense forces that protect Rojava areas from terrorism, and Turkey is well aware that, over the past five years, the YPG has never attacked the Turkish borders,” Muslim said.
The leader further argued that the YPG always sought good neighborly relations with Turkey. He believes Turkey’s concerns are not of the YPG to attack their territory, but it disturbs Turkey’s plan in the Middle East.
“Turkey is seeking to rebuild the Ottoman Empire. It has occupied Syrian territories and has ambitions in Syria and Iraq from Aleppo to Kirkuk,” he said.
“Turkey was annoyed that the IS was not able to achieve Turkish dreams. Plus it was alarmed by the growing power of the Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),” he further clarified.
RELATIONS WITH SYRIAN REGIME
Muslim further pointed out that the Kurds in Syria have connections with the US, Russia and the European countries, but not with the Syrian regime.
“Having relations with the US and Russia indicates that we build relations according to the interests of our people,” he said.
Asking about YPG fighting in the Arab-dominated areas of Syria, Muslim said the media propaganda saying that Kurds would occupy the Arab areas was baseless.
"Our ruling is based on democracy and coexistence. Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen are fighting together against terrorism in Manbij and Raqqa which are not parts of Rojava, but we are seeking coexistence and cooperation between different ethnic groups,” he said.
ROJAVA OR NORTHERN SYRIA
Regarding the Syrian Kurds’ projects, whether they are national or serving the other ethnic groups, Muslim said their project of self-administration is a national project that seeks to liberate the Kurdish people but in conjunction with the liberation of all peoples living in the same geography, not at the expense of enslaving others.
“We are not selfish in our project. We want our neighbors to be free as well. We want to work together to enjoy freedom,” said Muslim.
Regarding the difference between northern Syria and Rojava, Muslim said the former is wider than the latter and that the recent removal of the word “Rojava” from the official title of the areas does not mean that Rojava no longer exists.
INTIMIDATING POLITICIANS IN ROJAVA
Muslim pointed out that the closure of the offices of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) was not for political reasons, and that the PYD does not have any authority over the arrests of politicians or closing the offices.
"I am talking as a member of a political party in Rojava, but in Rojava there is a system containing YPG, security forces (Asayish), courts and many other parties,” he said.
“As for the ENKS, they violated the law. They reopened their offices without obtaining a license,” he said.
“There is no political detention in Rojva. There are laws and regulations. If you have names of the arrested politicians, we will work together to release them. You should realize that members of our party [PYD] are also arrested when they violate the laws,” he said.
KURDISTAN REGION MEDIATION
Muslim said they were committed to all the agreements reached with ENKS, but “their [ENKS] orders are in Ankara's hands.”
Regarding federalism, Muslim said, “There is no solution in Syria except the federal system, and both the regime and the opposition reject this proposal.”
“Without federalism, Syria will return to the era of dictatorship and thus we will continue seeking the federal project and we will achieve it,” he said.
RELATIONS WITH PKK
Muslim said Turkey accuses any party that seeks the Kurdish rights of having links to the PKK.
“Turkey is an enemy of all Kurds, including Rojava, Kurdistan Region of Iraq and Kurds in Iran and Turkey. But our project is not against Turkey; Our goal is to serve and defend Rojava,” he said.
RELATIONS WITH US
Muslim said there was no official political dialogue with the US administration.
“The Americans and Russians are not supporting us for our interests, but for their own interests, and we are cooperating with them for our interests,” he concluded.
Editing by Ava Homa