Syrian Kurdish parties reach initial unity agreement

“We hope this agreement culminates in a new agreement to guarantee the legitimate interests and rights of our people.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) and the Kurdish National Unity Parties (parties allied to the Democratic Union Party, PYD) reached an initial agreement for Kurdish unity in Hasakah on Wednesday and said their talks would continue based on the 2014 Duhok Agreement.

“We are proud of the joint work of the Kurdish National Council in Syria and the Kurdish National Unity parties, and their work to reach an initial agreement is a source of joy,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi wrote on Twitter on Tuesday ahead of the announcement.

“We hope this agreement culminates in a new agreement to guarantee the legitimate interests and rights of our people.”

Elsewhere, in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday, senior PYD official Aldar Xelil thanked “everyone who contributed to resolving some of the unsettled matters between the Kurdish National Council and the Kurdish National Unity Parties (PYNK).”

“This achievement and initial understanding constitute an important platform, and a major support to realize Kurdish unity,” Xelil added. “We hope that the next round of talks will bring historical developments to serve our people, all Syrians, and their democratic aspirations.”

PYNK consists of 25 parties close to the PYD that was formed on May 20, 2020, to support the Kurdish unity talks.

The statement was read by Mohammed Ismail, a senior leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party–Syria (KDP-S), in the presence of senior PYD officials Xelil and Samir Baktash, senior KNC official Fasla Yusef, SDF Commander-in-Chief Abdi, and Ambassador William V. Roebuck, the top American diplomat in northern Syria.

Both sides reached an initial understanding on a political vision for Syria and considered the 2014 Duhok agreement as the basis for continuing dialogue and negotiations between the two delegations, with the aim of reaching the signing of a comprehensive agreement in the near future.

The two sides stressed the importance of Kurdish cooperation and unity in northeastern Syria and welcomed the achievement as a step that would benefit the Kurdish people in Syria and Syrians of all components.

They also paid respects to those that sacrificed their lives in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.

The PYD and the KNC, the two major factions among Syrian Kurdish parties, renewed negotiations in early November as a result of an initiative by Commander Abdi to resolve long-standing disputes after Turkey’s cross-border offensive in northern Syria in October 2019.

Tensions between the KNC and PYD have increased since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, with the latter playing a significant role in the establishment of the self-administration that has ruled northeastern Syria. 

The dominant Syrian Kurdish factions – the PYD and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)-backed KNC – have not successfully cooperated as had been hoped, in part because agreements they reached in Duhok and Erbil between 2012 and 2014 were never effectively implemented.   

The United States has publically supported the SDF’s initiative to unite the Kurdish parties. Ambassador Roebuck, Deputy Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and a Senior Advisor to the Special Representative for Syria Engagement, Ambassador James Jeffrey, held several meetings with Kurdish parties to bring them closer.

The Kurdistan Region’s leadership has also supported efforts to bring the Syrian Kurds together.

For this reason, both sides thanked KDP president Masoud Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani for their efforts to achieve Kurdish unity.

Moreover, the parties thanked the US for its strong support for “Kurdish unity and its support for achieving a more democratic and pluralistic Syrian future where the rights of all its components are respected.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany