Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani accused the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria of “autocracy,” and rejected its unilateral declaration of independence in Syria’s Kurdish northeast.
He said the PYD was missing “a golden opportunity” by trying to hurriedly seize unilateral control over the Syrian Kurdish areas, or Rojava.
“This is autocracy and marginalization of the other Kurdish parties in Rojava.” Barzani said in a statement. “We only support the steps that have the consensus of all Kurdish parties in Rojava,” he added. “We refuse to deal with unilateral actions.”
On Tuesday, the PYD leadership announced an interim government over Syria’s Kurdish areas in the northeast. It said Kurdish, Arab and Christian leaders had agreed to turn Rojava into three semi-independent provincial areas, within a larger Kurdish autonomy in the northeast.
Barzani warned that the PYD was driving Syrian Kurds down a dead end.
“There is a serious concern that this golden opportunity will be missed because the (Damascus) regime has not recognized Kurdish rights and on the other hand the Syrian opposition considers PYD as a part of the regime,” said Barzani. “This poses a serious danger for the future of our people.”
PYD leader Salih Muslim has confirmed that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not accept Kurdish autonomy. “This is a step towards a permanent solution for Kurds in Syria,” he said, after the autonomy declaration. “Assad has always been against autonomy for Kurds and he rejects this, too,” he said.
Barzani, who brokered a 2012 deal in Erbil to forge a united stance among all Kurdish parties, called on the PYD and all other Kurdish groups to return to the terms of that accord.
“Despite our reservations about the PYD’s behavior and actions, we are happy to return to consensus, because autocracy will neither benefit the PYD not the Kurdish people,” Barzani said in his statement.
“The PYD benefited from the agreement, but it did not commit to it. It suppressed other political parties by gunpoint and secretly sided with Bashar Assad’s regime to make itself a solo de facto military force on the ground,” Barzani said without mincing his words.
“I advise all Kurdish parties in Rojava to work for the interest of the Kurdish people and return to the principles of the Erbil agreement, because this is the best option to strengthen the Kurdish position in Syria,” Barzani said. “We will assist you to the best of our ability.”
The Kurdish president also accused the PYD of fighting a war that is not a Kurdish fight, saying that PYD’s clashes, which have taken place against jihadist al-Qaeda forces since last summer, have led to tens of thousands of Kurds fleeing Rojava.
The PYD’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), also clashed in late March with other Kurdish forces in northeast Syria and in the city of Amude, where local residents protested against the arrest of three Kurdish activists by the PYD.
“It was decided that Kurds would not get involved in the internal Syrian war, but PYD got our people into a war that is not in the interest of our people,” Barzani said.
The Syrian opposition alliance has denounced the PYD for the autonomy declaration, branding it an “anti revolution.” Turkey has likewise rejected the PYD’s unilateral control of the Syrian Kurdish regions.
Barzani also denounced PYD for banning the Kurdistan flag in Rojava.