InterviewSource : http://rudaw.net/english/interview/17102014
Syrian Kurds seeking unity in face of ISIS threat
By RUDAW 17/10/2014
In this interview with Rudaw, Ibrahim Biro, secretary-general of the Union Kurdish Party in Syria says that a meeting currently going on in Duhok between different groups is to turn a new page and reach an agreement on the administration and defense of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava). Biro says that the Islamic State (IS) is a powerful force and that only by working together Syrian Kurds can overcome that threat. The international coalition, says Biro, has also set a condition that Kurdish groups in Rojava must work together in order to qualify for any military assistance.
Rudaw: What is this meeting between Syrian Kurdish parties about?
Ibrahim Biro: It is about the situation in Rojava in general and Kobane in particular. This meeting is to find a new framework between Syrian Kurdish parties. We try to revive the Erbil agreement (July 2012) in order for the different parties to work together. The situation on the ground in Rojava has necessitated this gathering between the Kurdish National Council and the TEV-DEM. In this meeting every subject and issue will be discussed.
Rudaw: What kind of issues exactly?
Ibrahim Biro: For example, the terrible situation in Kobane. The displacement and killing of the Kurdish people there. We are trying to put away the past and turn a new page. In this new stage it is to agree that no one party alone can defend Syrian Kurdistan by itself. All groups must work together because a historic opportunity is now before the Kurds of Syria. The international coalition that is established against the ISIS can help Syrian Kurdistan the same way they are now helping Iraqi Kurdistan.
Rudaw: Do you think these different groups can reach an agreement?
Ibrahim Biro: I think we can if all parties are willing to turn a new page and talk of new things. If, for instance, our brothers at TEV-DEM come and say, ‘We are the only ones out there and there is no such thing as KNC,’ then it is better not to meet in the first place. And if we point out their failure in one place or another and hurt their feeling, then the same way, no point in meeting them. So, the main goal should be to reach an agreement on partnership and cooperation.
Rudaw: The US has now decided to assist moderate Syrian opposition groups. Do you think the PYD’s willingness to join this meeting is to secure American help in Rojava?
Ibrahim Biro: Kurdish interest is in unity. We have been to Europe and America and from the beginning of this world coalition, they have made their conditions very clear. They say in order to be able to help the PYD or any other group on the ground, they must make their stance towards the regime of Bashar al-Assad clear. They must be able to get closer to the Syrian opposition. They must work with the KNC and also normalize their relations with the Kurdistan Region. These are the conditions that we must meet in order for the US to help us. But unfortunately, on the ground things have been done that complicated the situation. For instance, a few days ago, thousands of young men were rounded up in Rojava to join the military service. This was a negative message.
Rudaw: Do you fear that TEV-DEM might go back to Qamishlo and ignore what they may agree on in the meeting, as it happened before in 2012?
Ibrahim Biro: This time, if they reach an agreement, it shouldn't be like what happened before. We need unity among the Kurds now more than ever before. It is a matter of life and death for the Kurds in Syria. The ISIS is a very strong military force in Syria and possess powerful weapons. If we unite I believe we will be a strong force and defend our Kurdish region. If we can’t reach an agreement to work together, in itself it will be a big threat to the Kurds and their region in Syria. If any group renegades from this agreement, it will make our situation worse than it is and there is always the fear of civil war among them.
Rudaw: You spoke about PYD recruiting young men into its forces, but what is wrong with that when we see many women taking up arms and fight against ISIS in Kobane?
Ibrahim Biro: The problem is that, before the PYD formed its own YPG units, other Kurdish parties had dozens of battalions of trained fighters who were ready to defend Rojava, but unfortunately they were detained, harassed and exiled out of Rojava. The PYD wanted to be the only force there.
Rudaw: The PYD has said many times that they welcome help and fighters from anyone in their fight against ISIS. But where are your fighters? Why don't they go and fight in Kobane?
Ibrahim Biro: There are many volunteers who are ready to go and join the fight, but the PYD doesn't accept them because they see them as part of the KNC. Also, why is the PYD able to coordinate with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and bring some of their fighters to Kobane, but not able to coordinate with us? So, I hope they are in this gathering in Duhok to reach a genuine agreement and not to use it as a tactic to win military support and arms through the KNC. We come to a common ground, then the KNC is ready and able to send its forces for the defense of any part of Rojava. There are now thousands of well-trained young men in Rojava who are ready to fight. In the past they put down their guns because they didn't want to cause a civil war or tensions. But now, if we come to an understanding, these thousands of men will join the Rojava defense forces. They are strong and motivated. All together, we can tell the international coalition that we are their partners on the ground.
Rudaw: Does the KNC have any fighters on the ground at the moment, including in Kobane?
Ibrahim Biro: As an organized force, no it does not. But our supporters and ordinary civilians in Kobane and all the villages have taken up arms and fight the ISIS. However, the problem is that neither these people nor the YPG have the kind of weapons that can repel ISIS’s heavy weaponry. People and YPG have light weapons and they are running out of ammunition day by day.
Rudaw: Will you agree to merge your fighters with the YPG?
Ibrahim Biro: The idea of this meeting is to find a new way. Otherwise if we are meeting to dissolve the KNC into the YPG, then what is the point of discussing anything. We are now pinning our hope on establishing something new and understand that no one force can defend or run Rojava alone.
Rudaw: You recently met with the US ambassador in Turkey. What does America expect Syrian Kurds to do?
Ibrahim Biro: The Americans know that the current armed force in Rojava has been fighting the Syrian opposition, and they don't like that. They mean to bring together the Syrian opposition. But they also know that Syrian Kurdistan is different. So they said that in order to receive support, the Kurdish groups have to work together.
Rudaw: Have the US and Europe promised to give military assistance to the Kurds?
Ibrahim Biro: To the Kurds separately, no. But within the Syrian opposition, they are ready to give any kind of assistance to the Kurds whether weapons or training.
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