Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The office of the Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has held an emergency meeting with representatives of Syrian Kurdish parties to discuss recent tensions between different groups in that country.
This meeting came a day after six people were killed and more than 30 injured in clashes between security forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and protesters in the city of Amude.
“Following yesterday’s clashes both rival groups have gathered with the Kurdish president to find a way to end the tensions forever,” an official from the president’s office told Rudaw, on condition of anonymity.
Rudaw reporter in Amude, Farhad Hamo, says that the injured are in critical condition due to lack of medicine and a curfew imposed by the YPG.
The representative of a Syrian group at the meeting also said, “There is good understanding between both sides and in the next 72 hours we expect to reach a good outcome.”
Salih Muslim, the head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which controls the YPG, rejected that the victims were innocent protesters killed by his forces.
“Those killed were armed men and they were killed in an ambush,” Muslim said.
He blamed the recent tensions in the Syrian Kurdish areas on the Islamic Jabhat Al-Nusrah, saying the radical Islamic group is trying to gain control of all Kurdish towns and cities.
Kurdish groups in Syria say that the PYD does not tolerate any rivalry, and that members of the YPG continuously detain and harass members of Kurdish parties.
Mustafa Cuma, head of the Kurdish Azadi (Freedom] Party told Rudaw hours after the eruption of clashes in Amude that, unless the YPG changes its policies, the situation for Syria’s Kurds may get worse.
“The YPG sees itself as government already,” Cuma said. “But our people cannot accept that. They see the YPG as a political group and nothing more.”
Cuma said that the PYD does not tolerate criticism and that it suppresses different opinions among other groups.
“The PYD wants to be the sole controller of the area without the participation of anyone else,” he charged.
The Kurdish president has played the role of mediator between Syria’s Kurdish groups in the past two years, and last year he brokered a deal known as the Erbil Agreement, whereby Syrian Kurdish leaders agreed to cooperate on security.
But Cuma said that the PYD is using the Erbil Agreement to promote its own agenda, and that it uses the agreement to sideline all other groups.
The PYD is the strongest Kurdish party in Syria, with a well-organized security force that has managed to keep the Kurdish areas stable and out of the war raging in the rest of Syria for more than two years.
The group has accused other Kurdish parties of sending their fighters to fight the regime of Bashar al-Assad alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which the PYD sees as a risk that might drag the Kurdish areas into the civil war.
But Cuma said that the fighters of other Kurdish parties are only there to protect the people and their own offices.
“It is all baseless accusations,” he said. “The truth is that the PYD does not tolerate anyone else. That is it.”