News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
In two recent reports by Özgür Gündem Ayşa Abdullah, co-president of the PYD, and Aldar Xelîl, a leading member of the governing body of a Movement for a Democratic Society (TED-DEV), explained why their party is concerned about further foreign intervention in the conflict. The PYD has repeatedly expressed its fears that foreign intervention will only deepen the conflict in Syria, strengthen al-Qaida and other Islamic extremists and be used as an excuse by Turkey and other powers to increase their attacks on Rojava. Below are some excerpts from each interview (translated from Turkish). The links to the original reports can be found here and here.
Reporter: How do you evaluate foreign intervention in Syria?
Abdullah: As the PYD we have sought since the beginning of the Rojava Revolution to search for a solution with a democratic foundation. Let there be steps taken toward a solution with a political, democratic and peaceful foundation for Kurds and the other peoples living in Syria. On this subject let all political parties and civil society organizations make an effort toward a democratic solution that might guarantee a free future for Syria. Earlier we made some evaluations concerning Syria, and in working toward a second Geneva conference a decision was taken. In order to provide for a free future for Syria decisions need to be taken together.
Reporter: How will an intervention in Syria affect the Middle East?
Abdullah: In our view if their were a democratic solution there would be no war. However unfortunately in the Middle East Kurds and the other peoples of the region have problems. Regional contradictions have prepared the ground for internal and external interventions. There needs to be a new change in the Middle East. If this change were only to develop on the foundations of a democratic system the problems in the region would resolve themselves. However right now this force is very weak. On the subject of common interests cohesion is weak. Old scores in the Middle East are an obstacle to unity and finding commonalities. Today the deep contradictions in Egypt have pervaded society. The contradictions and different interests in Egypt have led to the deaths of civilians. These massacres are creating deep scars in society. Today in Syria there is a war. It has had a deep effect on life and security. In all regions where there are wars the people pay the biggest price. It is necessary for all sides to come together and to produce a common project around common interests and in the interest of unity. Social rights need to be taken as the basis. For this a democratic system must be founded. All communities, faiths and colors need to find an expression for their popular will. If a democratic system does not come together in the Middle East then these problems will have no end.
Reporter: What will be the situation for the PYD and people of Rojava in the event of foreign intervention?
Abdullah: For years we as Kurds and as the PYD have been struggling for a democratization of the Syrian regime. We as Kurds, as an opposing force are against the regime. As the revolution began we began to struggle for a democratic politics and a democratic system. Everyone needs to approach Kurds as equals. In Rojava Kurdistan there are now no institutions of the state or regime. The attack that will be made against our region will be an attack against the peoples of Rojava. Because Rojava is an autonomous region. After the 19 of July Revolution the people of Rojava have been governing themselves. If there is an attack it should not made against western Kurdistan. However right now a war is being waged by Islamist groups again the peoples of Rojava. The Kurdish people are using the right of defense in the region of Kurdistan. If there is an attack by foreign forces against Rojava, the people of Rojava will invoke the right of defense against those interventions. There is no attack strategy in western Kurdistan. It is more directed toward protecting and defending our rights. The Kurdish people are defending themselves against attack. From this point on they will defend themselves against any attack that might be made and will always reserve this right.
Reporter: With the US at the lead many Western powers are talking about a foreign military intervention in Syria. How do you evaluate such a military intervention? What kind of results would such an intervention have in Syria?
Xelîl: There is a process that began in Syria more than two years ago. However unfortunately the Assad regime came down hard on the people. As a result of this hundreds of thousands of people have died. Violence has reached such levels that there is no city left in Syria to tear down. Despite the fact that opposition forces have been insistent on armed methods the savagery of the regime remains for all to see. This violence should and could have been checked at the start. If we limit this problem to the use of chemical weapons it is not enough. Because it is known that it is a crime, a crime against humanity. Whoever did it needs to be judged in international courts. Although the investigative committee’s report is not yet submitted all existing signs point to the regime. However beyond this there is now a policy in Syria that is directed at the destruction of a people. People are being killed. But the method of intervention is important. If there had been a chance, if diplomatic meetings had taken place, and particularly if we were able to have a second Geneva conference this would have been a good step.
Reporter: Western powers to not want to destroy the regime…
Xelîl: But the appearance is that international forces do not want to see the tragedy in Syria come to an end. Syria has become such a place that now it has gone beyond a war between the regime and the people. It has escaped from both of their control. The war has reached such a level that international powers are carrying on their own wars in Syria. They want to resolve the contradictions amongst themselves in Syria. Now the US is saying that they will launch an armed intervention in Syria but I do not believe the want to destroy the regime.
Reporter: Why not?
Xelîl:The first reason is that there is still no alternative administration to be found. The second is that Russia and the US have their own scores amongst themselves, but unfortunately the Syrian people are being made the victims of these scores. Another reason could be that they want to put pressure on the Syrian regime and force their unconditional participation in the second Geneva conference. Because when this meeting was being discussed the regime was also putting down conditions, as well as the opposition. For this reason although Geneva 2 has been on the agenda for two months it still has not taken place. We want this problem to be solved with political means that will find more acceptance in the international arena. But it appears now that the regime is approaching this foolishly and not coming to a political solution. The opposition is the same. In the opposition there are different thoughts about the Geneva conference. In fact some do not even accept this conference at all. Recently some elements of the opposition have began to accept the Geneva meeting, but this was also made possible due the fact that international forces gave an opportunity for the regime to come down on the oppossiton. The armed forces of the opposition had advanced to many cities. When an opportunity was given to the regime the regime delivered many hard blows and weakened them. I mean Syria has become such a place that international powers carry out their own policies here. The are also making the Syrian people victims of these policies.
Reporter: If there is a military intervention in Syria what will be the fate of the Geneva 2 meeting?
Xelîl: Up to now the US has identified around 20 targets. After they strike them they will stop. It won’t continue like the attacks against Saddam. When they struck Saddam they did not stop until he fell. It appears that this time they will do something that resembles the Kuwait War. In the course of the First Gulf War they struck Saddam, and when Saddam’s army was weakened they stopped. If they had continued the regime would have fallen but they did not. This time it will probably be like that. They will strike and then they will stop. They will strike until the Syrian regime accepts the conditions of Western powers. Then they will stop and the Geneva meetings will begin. We do not think that the US will do like they did in Iraq and send soldiers into Syria. In politics it is always best when plans cover a wide range of eventualities and we regard this as possible, but we are focusing more on the first possibility.