KNC to take ‘PYD violations’ to Geneva

A meeting between KNC, PYD and TEV-DEM officials in Duhok in October 2014, headed by KDP leader Masoud Barzani

Kurdish National Council (KNC) member Abdulhakim Bashar on Tuesday told Turkish state news agency AA that his organisation would “bring to the table the violations committed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria’s north” at the Geneva talks.

Bashar said the KNC would be joining the Geneva talks “as part of the Syrian Opposition and with the same aims and project.”

The politician also accused the PYD of collaborating with the Bashar al-Assad government to “kidnap and torture innocent people.”

“We are going to document with evidence all the violations of the regime and PYD. Also we are going to prove that the Syrian opposition has a project that does not discriminate between any ethnic or religious group,” he said.

The KNC, which is seen as being the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), is also supported by Turkey and several Gulf states sponsoring the Syrian Opposition. The group has been invited to Astana and the Geneva talks in the past but does not have popular support in the region.

The PYD, considered the dominant political party in northern Syria’s autonomous administration, has rejected previous claims by the KNC that its political figures were arrested. The party also vehemently denies collaborating with the Syrian government and says it is in favour of a “third way” for a solution to the Syrian crisis.

PYD co-leader Salih Muslim recently responded to the claims by saying, “Anyone that accepts the Self-Administration can work in Rojava [northern Syria]. I promise anyone who applies for permission to work in Rojava, they will be free to do whatever they like there.”

The KNC, a coalition of a dozen or so parties, refuses to recognise the autonomous administration and doesn’t apply for permits to hold events or protests, leading to the arrest of several KNC activists, according to the local news agency ARA News.

Officials of the autonomous administration have also accused the KNC of working with forces hostile to the region, most notably Turkey, where KNC leaders are based. Commentators have argued that the KNC is used by Turkey to create divisions between the Kurdish parties. The group has also come under criticism for its perceived hypocrisy of using Kurdish nationalism as a tool, but being part of the Syrian Opposition, which does not recognise Kurdish self-determination.

While the KNC has participated in international talks with Turkey’s blessing, the PYD, which Turkey says is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been prevented from attending meetings. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, echoing PYD officials’ statements, recently said the Geneva meetings aimed at finding a solution to the Syrian crisis would not be successful without Kurdish [PYD] participation.

The two parties agreed to work together in the past, but the failure of power sharing agreements, due to the changing reality on the ground and because they are in different military and political camps, has meant an escalation of tensions.

The 4th round of Geneva talks are expected to begin on 23 February.