Ibrahim Biro, president of the Kurdish National Council in Syria. Photo: Rudaw
Ibrahim Biro, president of the Kurdish National Council in Syria believes that international efforts such as the Geneva talks is one of the best means to find a solution for the Syria crisis and guarantee Kurdish rights. Otherwise, he says, the Kurds have to put their act together and be united in pursuing their own plans for peace and stability in Rojava as they have the best chance at the moment. Biro who opened an official office in Geneva last month “contribute to the Syria peace process” told Rudaw that other Syrian opposition groups must accept Kurdish politics and military on the ground as they expect the same from the Kurds. “What is important for the Kurds is the continuation of negotiations and what comes after the Geneva talks in terms of national conferences, transitional period, etc,” Biro said. “The solution in Syria should be for all groups, among them the Kurds in particular and the future should not be a centralized rule. It has to be of a different type.”
Rudaw: Do other opposition groups and countries you deal with support your ideas and demands for federalism?
Certainly there are many different opposition groups. When the Saudi gathering took place all kinds of military and political groups were there. But these groups must be united around one thing and that is the rights of all ethnic, religious or political groups as were outlined clearly in Geneva 1 talks. If the points of both Geneva talks remain solid and honored then we can deal with whichever ally we may have in the future.
Have you been able to make some good friends and allies?
Yes, we have both inside and outside Syria. Inside Syria there are groups who understand our situation very well as we have others outside. We have worked on that from the start. We have been able to see the delegations and officials of all countries whenever we have wanted and we talk to anyone whether the regime delegation, Syrian opposition or others so that there is no more complicated issues and that is all to find a good solution.
But you have been criticized for participating in Geneva talks with only one representative versus the regime delegation. Why didn’t you go there together with the PYD as one team?
It is not about numbers. One or two delegates would not mean our rights will be achieved. What is important is how well our envoy will raise our concerns at the talks and put them on the negotiating table. As for going in one team with the PYD, this issue came up during the Geneva II talks. We were promised that we would take part as a united and independent Kurdish delegation and we went to Moscow but Bogdanov told us there was no such thing. We are still seeing the outcome of that day. No one supported a separate Kurdish delegation from the opposition or regime delegation. Therefore we had to pick our place and we found it within the opposition. We hoped that the PYD would join the same team.
No one supported a separate Kurdish delegation from the opposition or regime delegation.
Did you meet with the PYD before the talks to ask them to join you and form one negotiation team?
I wish the situation in Rojava were different now. And yes we have tried with them and even after our third convention we said to them that we must work together and become partners based on one of our earlier agreements. For us it is not about recognizing or not recognizing the PYD rule. It is about all of us working together and make sure that governance in Rojava is Kurdish and seen as such politically, militarily, economically, etc by everyone inside and outside the country.
The PYD is today a reality on the ground and no one can deny that. So how will you be able to go there and implement any decisions that may be made at the Geneva talks on the ground?
If the Geneva talks succeed and continue no political or military force can defy an international decision whether it is the regime, the opposition, the KNC or PYD.
If the international community or the UN decides to send troops to Syria and Rojava included, will there be a place for the Rojava Peshmerga among them?
Without a doubt, and that has been our suggestion for a while that foreign boots can bring peace to parts of Syria and allow local forces assert themselves in their areas and organize their forces properly not in the form of militia groups. In this case the Rojava Peshmerga would be able to contribute to peace and stability.
We are having a difficult time in Afrin which is isolated from the rest of Rojava.
What are the challenges you are facing in Rojava?
The main difficulty is the war. Another one is that the different areas of Rojava are not connected. For example we are having a difficult time in Afrin which is isolated from the rest of Rojava. But in general the conditions are good.
How about the Peshmerga of Rojava? Will they be part of any force for Rojava or Syria?
These Peshmerga are all Kurds from Syria. They all left the Syrian army as the war started. Their numbers slowly grew and for sure, they will play a role in the future whether inside an international force or local force and their main focus will be the defense of Syrian Kurdistan.
Will other coalitions and opposition accept such a force?
Of course they will have to, just as we accept them. There has to be real partnership. No one can say I exist and deny yours. There has to be an agreement on all things. There has to be a place for Kurds in all political, diplomatic and military spheres. All these things could be achieved if the international talks succeed. If not, then as Kurds in Syria we should get together by ourselves and work on a plan for ourselves in in our areas. Otherwise if we remain segregated and pursue separate policies and visions then we will spoil the chance we have which we may not be able to reverse in ten years.
There has to be a place for Kurds in all political, diplomatic and