ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Region parliament condemned Turkey’s military operation on the Kurdish canton of Afrin, but the parties also had harsh words for each other and the legislature with some saying issuing statements on the conflict is insufficient and Kurdistan must take concrete action, like opening its borders with Rojava.
The Change Movement (Gorran) boycotted the Tuesday session and held press conference.
"No political, moral, or religious justification can find one positive word for this cowardly attack. Those supporting this aggression are even more of a coward,” said Dler Mawati, head of the PUK bloc in the parliament.
He also condemned global failure to stop Turkey. "It has been revealed how the international community is cartoonish and without honour," he said, claiming that the international silence renders the world accomplices in crimes against Afrin.
"We thought that superpowers would no longer allow occupying countries to commit genocide against us. We sacrificed thousands of our children to block an international threat against them,” he declared, invoking the Kurdish role in the war against ISIS. “It turns out there is no moral, political or humanitarian commitment on their side in dealing with the Kurdish question."
"They have to know that Kurds cannot be swallowed easily and marginalized," Mawati added, denouncing the war and telling Rojava “We consider your resistance sacred.”
Abu Bakir Haladani, the head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) faction in the parliament, said the subject of Afrin should not easily be bypassed as the KRG parliament has already recognized the Rojava cantons and “today one of them is under attack.”
Haladani said the parliament should extend aid to Rojava and not limit its action to only issuing a statement, “but a decree which we must read here containing recommendations” for helping Rojava.
“Our nation is also expecting us to view the Afrin situation as a current topic and the parliament must have a say on this matter,” he urged.
Jaafar Iminiki, the acting speaker of parliament and member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), said the parties should not exploit the matter and use it as “political rhetoric.”
Iminiki added the Kurdistan Region is suffering limited resources due to its continued economic crisis.
“The economic situation of Rojava is better in many aspects than that of the Kurdistan Region,” Iminiki claimed.
He said issuing a “political message, support, and diplomatic ties” for Rojava is also important.
Conducting military operations, according to international laws, are allowed when the country is attacked.
Head of the KDP bloc in the parliament, Omed Khoshnaw, accused Turkey of carrying out indiscriminate attacks on civilians.
“We are asking: have the Rojava authorities made any movements on the borders of Turkey to prompt Turkey to attack them in this way?” he asked.
He urged international organizations, chief among them the UN, world decision makers, and media to reach out to the people of Afrin and help stop Turkey’s attacks.
Amina Zikri, a KDP member in the parliament, acknowledged that the people of Rojava are waiting to see what “assistance” the Kurdistan parliament has to offer.
Soran Omer, member of the Komal party refuted the parliament speaker’s comment, saying the subject is not being used by his party and others as “political rhetoric” by taking into account the situation of Afrin as it is “under giant threats by the Turkey’s military incursion and the killing of civilians.”
“If rhetoric is put forward for discussion to defend a segment of Kurdistan, I do not consider it a rhetoric, but loyalty,” Omer retorted.
He added the session should have been dedicated to “forming a recommendation for the international community for the dangerous blatant human rights violations committed against civilians in Afrin as we did for Tuz Khurmatu.”
Birzo Majeed, the head of Gorran’s parliamentary bloc, while condemning Turkey's "unjust attacks," said in a press conference that the parliament should not just issue announcements, but take action through decrees and recommendations such as reopening crossings between the Kurdistan Region and Rojava.
"With the start of the unjust attacks on Afrin canton by Turkey, as the Gorran bloc, in addition to condemning it, through an official letter, we called on the parliament’s leadership to hold an extraordinary and urgent session on Afrin," said Majeed.
He said they asked for "today’s session to be dedicated to just discuss the Afrin situation."
The MP accused the parliament of “evading” discussion of the subject as they had described the Gorran and Kurdistan Islamic Group’s (Komal) call for discussing Afrin as a “political rhetoric.”
Majeed said they boycotted the session because the parliament “evaded the responsibility” and failed “to commit the government to issue some orders and recommendation to help Afrin” by providing “logistical, political, humanitarian and diplomatic assistance.”
He added that it was a “shame” for the Kurdistan parliament to end up only issuing statements and announcements on Afrin.
“The most importantly was the re-opening of the South Kurdistan [Kurdistan Region] crossings in order for them to receive aid.”
Afrin is one of three cantons which make up Rojava in northern Syria.
Turkey, along with its so-called Free Syrian Army proxies, launched their assault on Kurdish-controlled Afrin in Syria on January 21, dubbed 'Operation Olive Branch.'
The mostly-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria is the dominant force in Afrin.
Late on Monday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the deaths of "61 Syrian citizens of the Kurds, Arabs and Armenians" in Afrin.
Last updated at 5:07 pm