Iron grip imposed: Will unarmed Syrian Kurds respond?

Adib Abdulmajid

By Adib Abdulmajid:

Amid the ongoing destructive war between the Syrian rebel forces and the regime, the circle of violence is apparently expanding to include the north-eastern area of the country, where the Kurds form a majority of the population. However, unlike other clashes seen in the rest of the country, the Kurdish area is largely dominated by the forces of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) – affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The PYD has constantly tried to impose its domination through its armed forces of the so-called ‘Popular Protection Unites’ (YPG) in several Kurdish areas in Syria after the alleged silent withdrawal of the forces of the Assad regime from these areas without any resistance; the fact that led many to doubt the PYD’s position on the Assad regime, and some Syrian activists even argued that there are some confidential agreements between the regime and the PYD’s leadership, as the latter has shown more hostility towards the opposition forces than towards the regime.

Although the PYD tried recently to build a bridge of communication with the Syrian political opposition, the latter remains cautious of any relations with the party that has marginalised other Kurdish political parties in Syria and insisted on presenting itself as the sole legitimate representative and protector of the Syrian Kurds and their rights.

Undoubtedly, the declared “peace process” in Turkey between the PKK’s jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and the Turkish government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has directly or indirectly influenced the PKK’s Syrian branch, the PYD.

Thus, the PYD tries to hold contacts with the political opposition and some of its armed forces on the ground in Syria to maintain its presence as an important player even after the expected fall of the Assad regime; but, on the other hand, the PYD refuses to give up its allegiance with the regime, even if that would turn the party into a suppressive tool against the Kurdish people themselves –whom the PYD’s armed wing of the YPG (or the Popular Protection Units) persecutes while it’s supposedly established to protect the people.

Apparently, the PKK supporters and Ocalan disciples in Syria (namely the PYD) didn’t learn from their previous experiences with the Assad regime. As if the memory betrays them that this same regime surrendered the PKK’s leader to the Turkish authorities after hosting him for a while, beside arresting dozens of PKK’s members in Syria over the last decade.

As the sole Kurdish party in Syria that has weapons and fighters, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) explicitly oppresses its opponents in the Kurdish areas in the north of the country, arresting dozens of civil activists and killing others, opening fire against peaceful demonstrators and imposing a curfew on the residents. All of that is being carried out under the pretext of protecting the Kurdish people (mostly against their will) against the Islamist opposition.

The sad part of the story is that the number of Kurdish activists arrested and killed by the PYD’s forces since the start of the ongoing revolution exceeded the number of Kurds killed in the Kurdish region by the Assad regime itself during the same period. Thus, under the pretext of protection, Kurds are being killed by their peers; under the same pretext, people are being detained, insulted and humiliated. Seemingly, the PYD wants to convince Syrian Kurds that it is protecting them from their own thoughts and aspirations, from a prevailing disease in the area’s so-called ‘democracy’.

According to the same totalitarian mentality, people can never rule themselves by themselves; they need a leader to do so instead, a despotic leader; otherwise, chaos will prevail – as this mentality explicitly makes out. Reading this perspective turns me back to the ancient pre-democratic Greece, namely during the 7th century BC, when a tyrant was needed as a saviour and rescuer from instability and chaos, to cleanse all reasons for tension among groups and eliminate all kinds of possible competition or conflict. Despite the different connotations of the term between that time and our present day, the incentives to resort to the sanctification of the leader’s figure as the saviour remain relatively comparable.

It is evidently known that any armed authority cannot survive in an area without a minimum popular acceptance and support. However, the PYD’s leadership and its armed wing (the YPG) do not seem to have taken this issue sufficiently into consideration. Arresting activists, killing dozens of them, installing security checkpoints at the entrances of streets in different cities in the Kurdish area in Syria, suppressing anti-regime demonstrations, controlling the vital institutions and denying the non-supporters among Kurds any rights, and taking over the significant border checkpoint with Iraqi Kurdistan – these are all practices that resulted in an undeclared popular hostility against the party which hasn’t adequately thought through the potential outcomes of its actions and its future in a post-Assad Syria.

How would the same suppressed people, who suffer the most under the so-called Popular Protection Units YPG and its political leadership of the PYD, accept submission to the authority of the latter after all these unforgettable and unforgivable practices? Can those civilians trust this party to rule them after the fall of the dictator after all? To anticipate answers might be easy, but the only absolute answers can be attained by experiencing the outcome of the current devastating and extensive war.

Adib Abdulmajid is a Syrian journalist based in the Netherlands. As a member of the International Federation of journalists, Abdulmajid’s articles were published in several online and printed newspapers in English, Arabic and Dutch. 

Copyright © 2013

7 Responses to Iron grip imposed: Will unarmed Syrian Kurds respond?
  1. Amedo
    July 6, 2013 | 17:41

    its clear that you are antikurd let me tell you more than 90% ( if not all) of kurds not just in syria but worldwide support PYD and YPG is kurdish defence force.

  2. roj
    July 6, 2013 | 19:20

    Mir Muhammad Sovereign of principality of Soran wanted to unite Kurdistan and make a strong unity to face the Ottoman Empire. He started to build his army and unit with all the other Kurdish principalities, unfortunately all of them refused the alliance, which would have involved the supremacy of the Lord Mir Muhammad. Paraphrased from A people without a country book.
    Even from the past the Kurds didn’t want to unite not because that they didn’t want a country but because every Mir wanted to be the supreme ruler over the others.
    Since then till this very moment Things have not been changed still each party wants to rule And if he cannot rule he starts defaming the dominant party and work by all means to discredit it, Never thinking to unite with the dominant part and cooperate with it for the good of the Kurdish nation.

  3. Stratus
    July 6, 2013 | 19:39

    It’s apparent that there is a lot of anti PYD/PKK news floating around past few months. There is a genuine conspiracy between FSA/Turkey/KDP (affilated partys in Syria) to smear PYD before the Geneva Convention. The way I see it these ‘kurds’ who supposedly protests against PYD should be united first and then sort out there differences later when the outcome of this wretched war is foreseen. Rather then provoking and carrying FSA flags.

  4. Mohammed
    July 6, 2013 | 21:37

    Good job, it is clear PYD try to repeat a Kurdish example of Assad’s regime, but its choices really are limited. It has to play among many hostile powers who want just annihilate PYD and all pro-PKK elements.

  5. Heval
    July 7, 2013 | 12:52

    Disappointing article. Clear bias against the PYD. No mention of the popular support for the PYD by the people and it’s achievement in reviving Kurdish culture in Syria in this short period. You remind me of birakuji of the 1990s.

  6. Heval
    July 7, 2013 | 12:58

    BTW since when did the Kurdistan Tribune recycle journalists from Rudaw????

  7. Xortê Kurd
    July 8, 2013 | 19:42

    The author has baseless points and false accusations. PYD has been fighting against Assad for over three months in Aleppo. He clearly misread the readers. Just because PYD refuses to be a part in either side, why would some accuse it to be pro regime? For Kurds both sides are as bad, that is why almost all Kurds are not taking any part. As far as PYD concerned, in the ground vast majority of Kurds support it with whole heart. Rather tan claiming PYD caused more Kurdish deaths, why does Abdulmajid not talk Jihadist terrorists attacking Kurdish civials and villages? Perhaps he favors those over Kurds who are “foreigners” in Syria!!!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL