Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using





The KDP and PKK’s Breakneck Rivalry in Syria



Traditional rivals the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) each believes it should have the upper hand in Syria’s Kurdish regions.  Each has tried to have the greater influence among the country’s Kurds, who make up about 10 percent of Syria’s 22 million populations.

At the beginning of the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad -- and after its troops withdrew to fight elsewhere in Syria -- the PKK sent a large number of its guerrillas into the Kurdish areas and created the Peoples Defense Units (YPG).

The same year – in June 2011 -- after a decade of sour relations, the PKK and the Assad regime reconciled and resumed friendly ties. This opened Syrian Kurdistan to the PKK as the playground it had once enjoyed.

As these events unfolded, the KDP was unwilling to recognize the PKK’s Syrian political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).  It has been over this opposition that all efforts at a Kurdish National Council (KNC) have failed.

The PYD was happy to join the council as just a member, but the KDP was unwilling to accept even that.

But the KDP saw its powers erode, as it failed in efforts to arm other Syrian Kurdish groups. Meanwhile, more PKK fighters withdrew from Turkey and headed to Syria, making its guerrillas  the sole power on the ground.

Later, as the parties gathered and signed the Erbil Agreement, promising to work together through the Supreme Kurdish Council, the PYD managed to take most of the seats.

And when the KDP trained a number of Kurdish defectors from the Syrian army and tried to dispatch them to the Kurdish areas, the PKK opposed the move and did not allow them entry. In reaction, the KDP closed its borders to the PKK.

The KDP limits movement between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Kurdish areas of Syria for fear that Syrian Kurds would desert the land. This, in effect, aborted PKK plans to use the border area as a means of trade for the group.

The tougher the KDP has been with the PKK, the tougher the PKK has acted against the KDP’s smaller allies in Syrian Kurdistan and suppressed them.

The KDP believes that the PYD is letting a golden opportunity for the Kurds of Syria slip by, under the pretext that it is still uncertain what will happen to the Kurds after the fall of Assad’s regime. In short, the PYD is still unwilling to detach itself from the front that includes friends of Assad’s Baathist regime.

On the other hand, the PKK believes that the KDP is pursuing a Turkish agenda in Syria, and that KDP’s actions are not nationalistic.

When members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) tried to pass through the Kurdish areas in Afrin and Aleppo, fighting erupted between them and members of the PYD.

Also, soon after, the PYD said that an extremist group called Jabhat al-Nusrah had attacked and killed 450 Kurdish civilians. The PYD’s claim was a trump card against the KDP. The KDP’s own rivals inside the Kurdistan Region picked up on it and lashed out at the KDP.

But despite an initial welcome, the PYD stopped a fact-finding mission assigned by the Kurdish National Council into the areas where the massacre was supposed to have happened. The group brought several thousand people to the Syrian side of the border and claimed that they did not want the mission to travel to their areas.

However, the KDP once again pulled the rug from under the PYD’s feet and reopened its borders to huge swarms of refugees, letting them cross freely into the Kurdistan Region.

All of this tells us that the Kurds of Syrian Kurdistan have found themselves between the grindstones of the PKK and KDP.

And it does not appear that this issue will be resolved without some bloodshed, no matter how serious the pledges of avoiding a “Kurdish civil war.”



Data pager
Page size:
heval | 25/8/2013
To state that we must return to the days of the birakuji of the 1990sto resolve this "issue" is disgraceful!! It is totally understandable that Rudaw is the mouth piece of the KDP (as this is their funding source) but trying to justify killing fellow Kurds because of some supposed claim of supremacy amongst Syrian Kurds is absurd. This is the time for all Kurds to unite so that we can achieve some form of federal or autonomy in Syria. After this is in place the Kurds of Rojava can decide through elections who they wish to represent them.
Cornelisz | 25/8/2013
I don't think the writer is advocating for civil war. He is just saying that the intense rivalry between Kurdish parties may lead to civil war, which is an unfortunate thing.
Polla | 25/8/2013
The PYD do a dirty job. They agreed with other Kurdish parties to declare a autonomy in Rojava, but after the leader of the PYD Salih Muslim visited Turkey, he promised Turkey not to declare autonomy. And the PYD closed the borders to the Kurdish refugees from Rojava, who get a military training from the KRG. Arabs import their fighters from the whole arab world, why did the PYD dont let the Rojava Pesmerges to go back to Rojava to defend their Land?
Serhed Rojava | 26/8/2013
Dear Rebwar Karîm, You have interviewed Huseyin Çelik and Fettullah Gulen and as the editor in chief of Rudaw weekly, I condemn the idea in the conclusion which, encourages the birakuji-civil war. The Gulen Cemaat is in favour of occupying the castle from inside and they are trying to bring back the civil war inside our society. As in the Zaman newspaper and Cihan in everywhere are against the process of democratisation, which the Kurdistan Freedom Movement have successfully in nine months implemented. They are trying by the Kurds and Kurdish actors to make the peace process in the North and successful process in the Western Kurdistan to be failed. You should suggest that the PKK and KDP, no matter what they believe ideologically and philosophically, but they are Kurdistanî actors should learn to do politics democratically and tolerantly in everywhere of Kurdistan.
BAKUR ROJAVA | 26/8/2013
1- The author says: "The PYD stopped a fact-finding mission assigned by the Kurdish National Council into the areas where the massacre was supposed to have happened." This is really misleading. These areas where the massacres occured are not under PYD's control; Kurds have been wiped out of these areas, and their villages and houses are now occupied by Islamist Gangs equiped by Turkey. I don't believe that anyone will be allowed to enter these unsafe places, neither from PYD nor by Islamist Gangs. If you read other newspapers you will realize that there are a lot witnesses, and there's no doubt about the mass killing of Kurds in these areas called the "arab belt". 2- Everybody has to be aware about what is going on right now at the United Nations and all embassies around the world. All western countries are talking about a military action against Syria and let me tell you that the safety and future of Western Kurdistan are absolutely not in their agenda. Indeed, PKK or KDP doesn't matter since Turkey - which is urging an international military occupation of Syria - will do everything it can to avoid any kind of Kurdish Autonomy in North Syria. The Western Countries are leaded (or missleaded !) by Turkey in the Syrian Case. This is a very dangerous situation for the Kurds in Western Kurdistan. Hence, I think all kurdish parties have to agree on a common action for Western Kurdistan during the next conference, and even before...
Tags :

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

FAUthman | 1/14/2018 5:30:34 PM
The US has revealed a new Syria policy. Very significant, Trump has shifted from the Obama cautious policy, to a new very bold policy, and will...
Brian Ghilliotti | 1/16/2018 10:10:53 AM
Does Turkey believe it can carry out another Srebrenica with Afrin? I think it may be a much more painful experience for the besiegers. Who knows? It...
Erdogan threatens military operation in Afrin within a week
| 13/1/2018 | (7)
kurt basar | 1/15/2018 7:55:49 PM
Unfortunately the naive & proud Kurd's love to serve their Turkish, Arab & Iranian masters but not Kurdish one, because of that they couldn't create...
Richard | 1/16/2018 8:53:36 AM
The airports have always been under ICAA jurisdiction so I don't see why they needed 4 months of a ban and 2 meetings to come to that agreement!!
Baghdad, Erbil agree to lift flight ban, pending PM Abadi's approval
| 21 hours ago | (8)
Non kurd | 1/16/2018 7:24:57 AM
This seemed to be avoidable. I'm surprised they didn't Abandon Ship and board the nearby rescue ships.
Iran oil tanker explodes, sinks off China with no survivors
| yesterday at 02:52 | (1)
Azad | 1/16/2018 4:00:03 AM
And finally KRG took off the last piece of clothes they are wearing . Now we can go back to work and live normally . Thank you for a great adventure...
Saman | 1/16/2018 4:10:41 AM
Muraz . Hot much does the kdp pay you so you can write garbage all day . Everything you say is useless and a lie . I suggest you go read some history...
Oil-for-budget proposal agreed on in Erbil-Baghdad talks
| 16 hours ago | (5)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

UK ambassador urges Kurdistan to maintain talks with Iraq 5 hours ago |

UK ambassador urges Kurdistan to maintain talks with Iraq

Wilks reiterated an earlier invitation by Theresa more
UAE accuses Qatar of 'intercepting' 2 passenger planes 6 hours ago |

UAE accuses Qatar of 'intercepting' 2 passenger planes

Qatar denied the allegations as "totally baseless" more
0.25 seconds