The Kurdish YPG militia was not allowed to participate in recent negotiations in Kazakhstan on a ceasefire in Syria. Nor did it participate in previous peace talks in Geneva. This means the major powers and regional players see Turkey as more important strategic partner than the self-proclaimed Kurdish autonomy in Syria by the PKK Syrian branch PYD. But the infidelity of the PYD towards its best allies Russia and Syria, is also an important reason why the Kurds are offside.
The Kurdish PKK guerrilla movement has traditionally had good relations with Russia and with Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad. The latter harbored the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan and his training camps for a decade before Öcalan was arrested. As late as February 2016 PYD opened its first European office in Moscow and in April 2016 also a second in Stockholm. However, PYD soon began to act arrogantly and opportunistic when it tried to play off Russia and the United States against each other by offering its military services to the highest bidder. It started with the US allied with the newly formed militia SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), which in reality is controlled by the YPG. When IS surrounded the Kurds in Kobane (Arabic Ayn al-Arab) in September 2014, and was on its way to take the city, the US gave the Kurds weapons and air support that stopped the attack. The Russians noted the cooperation of the Kurds with the United States but continued to support them. In September 2015 the Russian jets, for example, gave further support to the SDF/YPG in Aleppo.
In October 2015 the United States dropped 50 tons of weapons to SDF/YPG. The Russians began to doubt the honesty of the Kurds. The Russian arm deliveries to the PYD ended up probably after this, but the Russians kept their political contacts with the Kurds. In November 2015 Turkish fighter shot down a Russian jet, which led to a political crisis between Russia and Turkey. The Russians provided the PKK guerrillas shoulder-borne air defence missile which shot down a Turkish helicopter in front of the camera. It was probably a warning to President Erdogan that Russia could intensify its support to the PKK and create more problems for him. Eventually Erdogan was forced to apologize and provide compensation to Russia. He visited Moscow and the two countries began to act in a kind of agreement.
One of Erdogan's main demands was that Russia would close PYD's office in Moscow and stop supporting the Kurds in Syria. As a result of Erdogan's visit to Moscow and Turkey's turnaround on Russia, Erdogan abandoned his support for Islamist rebels in Aleppo, which eventually ended up in the Syrian army's control. When these rebel groups now sit in indirect negotiations with the Syrian regime, they no longer have control over any major city in Syria, while the Kurds are excluded from the talks.
Kurdo Baksi, who acts as a self-appointed spokesman for the Kurdish question in Sweden, wrote an article in the Swedish newspaper Vestmanlands Läns Tidning the day before the negotiations in Astana would start on January 23, 2016. Under the title, Låt Syrien bli tre stater (let Syria become three states), Baksi complains about YPG has fallen into offside:
"Even if the initiators are Turkey, Iran and Russia, one should not underestimate the dictator Bashar al-Assad's role in shaping the conference. But this spectacle lacks credibility and legitimacy. The initiators are all suspected of war crimes. The tyrants now invite to a meeting without the UN, the EU, the Arab League or the United States have a say in the matter. Even more remarkable is that the group in Syria by far the most successful fighting terror group Daesh (IS) is not invited."
Baksi’s statement about US and the UN is not true. It is the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, who handles the contacts between the regime's delegation, headed by Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar al-Jafari, and the armed Sunni groups' delegations. As for the United States the initiators of the meeting wanted to wait out Obama and cooperate with the Trump administration. Obama resigned on Friday January 20, 2016, just three days before the meeting in Astana would start. Thus, the United States is invited at the last moment, according to Finnish Yle Swedish section.
Baksi writes further:
"Kurds, especially Kurdish YPJ-women's heroic efforts has been depicted many times, and should soon be familiar to the Swedish people after the publication of books with YPG-volunteer Jesper Söder, ‘When the world looked away’, and journalist Joakim Medin ‘Kobane’. Despite the Syrian Kurds are living examples of female emancipation, secularism and coexistence between religious and ethnic groups, they are systematically countered.”
No one can deny that Kurdish women are actively involved in the PKK guerrilla movement and its subsidiary organizations. The PKK is of course not the only one to engage female guerrillas. Many other guerrilla movements have done the same. The recipe is also used by the PKK puppets among the Assyrians, the so-called Dawronoye, but in that case it is often about a marginal group of women in PR purpose.
Kurdo Baksi’s assertion that the PYD rule is the best model for coexistence and tolerance for weaker groups, is far from the truth. During recent years of Kurdish dominance in Gozarto region in Syria, we have witnessed many abuses and armed attacks against the Assyrians and other Christian groups; Assyrian military leaders have been executed by the YPG, the Assyrian guards Sootoro/GPF has been attacked by YPG/Asayish (Kurdish police), Assyrian restaurants and public places have been subjects to suicide attacks, Assyrian property has been subject to confiscation, PYD has tried to impose Kurdish curricula on Assyrian schools, Assyrian youth have been forcibly drafted into the YPG militia, Assyrian farmers have been harassed and beaten accused of having voted for Bashar al-Assad, Assyrian attorney who opposes Kurdish grab of Assyrian land has been arrested and harassed. The list is even longer.
The experience of Kurdish rule in Syria, Iraq or Turkey (Turabdin) shows that the alleged tolerance towards Assyrians, Yezidis and other indigenous is only by name. In fact it is about to replace Arab or Turkish fascism with Kurdish fascism. In the case of the Assyrians, Kurdish rulers and academics try to steal not only our country and our land, but our history as well.
The situation in Syria has now come to a point where the Kurdish local administration looks increasingly pressed and neglected by the great powers, regional powers and the Syrian regime. Obviously, Turkey is about to get its will to limit the PYD/YPG would dominate much of northern Syria bordering Turkey. Overall, Syria has a border with Turkey, which stretches nearly a thousand kilometres.
Out of its YPG militia military strength the Kurdish administration shows dissatisfaction with the development and the exclusion of the Kurds from talks in Astana. YPG has declared that it will not respect the decisions taken at the meeting in Astana. According to Russian news website Sputnik's Turkish department YPG says:
“Görüşmelere katılan tarafların ve onların hamisi olan ülkelerin Suriye’deki ciddi krizin bir parçası olduğunu ve Suriye halkının ihtiyaç duyduğu kararlar alamayacağını düşünüyoruz”.
It means: "We believe that the groups involved in the negotiations and the countries that protect them are an important part of the conflict in Syria, and we do not think they will make a decision based on the Syrian people's needs."
Reuters writes: "“The YPG said the solution for the Syrian conflict, which has raged on into it sixth year, would be ‘through democratic autonomous zones that preserve the unity of the Syrian land and that we are applying on the ground’. The warring sides ‘could benefit from this experience that we have established,’ it said.”
The Kurds have now backed from earlier demands and calls no longer their three so-called cantons Rojava. Now they name it “democratic autonomous zones”within a united Syria.
What YPG's statement means in practice remains to be seen. But for us Assyrians and other vulnerable groups in Gozarto it would be a relief if the Kurdish abuses would come to an end and Kurdish rulers would be more humble in their relationship with us. The Kurds must not forget that they are occupiers of someone else's house – no matter what Kurdish names they give Gozarto.