News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
In an article in today’s Özgür Gündem, the paper sat down for an interview with İlham Ehmed, a member of the six-person committee that represented the Kurdish High Council on its first official visit to Ankara this week. The committee, which was in Ankara on the 8 and 9 of October, met with various Turkish government officials, as well as with representatives from the American and German embassies.
In the interview Ehmed stresses that the body would attend the Geneva talks to represent “the political will of the Kurds” and that a “second Lausanne could not be brought up to date in Rojava.” Ehmed was referring to the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, that recognized the new nation-state of Turkey and laid the foundations for the modern Middle East while failing completely to recognize the national claims of the Kurds. Below are some excerpts of Ehmed’s interview with Özgür Gündem, translated into English.
What did you bring up during the meetings in Ankara?
Fundamentally we brought a number of criticism to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In particular we criticized them for having left their borders so open to these armed gangs. For having given them a base from which to attack us so easily. They left these borders open, but around places under Kurdish administration they constantly closed them off. They have the put the region under a very heavy embargo. We debated these subjects and we offered our criticisms. And we told them that if they did not take these gangs under control tomorrow or the next day they will a scourge for Turkey. That they will create a lot of work for you as well. And we told them that they will be a scourge not only for your but for the entire Middle East. They said that they were also aware of the situation. In fact they say that they have not supported them and have never supported them. “We have not supported them” they said. Their response was generally in this mode. But we did realize that they have slowly pulled back the support they have given them.
What countries are the Jihadis coming to Rojava originally from?
The majority of the members of such groups are from Tunisia, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Chechnya and Turkey. There are also a lot that come on American passports. Many are carrying American passports but they arrive after having entered Turkey. I mean they come through Turkey. Many also come through unofficial routes.
Did you speak about preparations for the Geneva-2 Conference?
We made it clear that we want to attend the conference as an independent party. For us this is very important. It is important from the perspective that we make our case independently. It is important from the perspective of being more readily able to defend our peoples. On this point there is an advantage in Kurds participating independently. However they said that from their point of view it is necessary for the entire opposition to enter under one tent. They defend the position that all the sides needed to become one. In this environment they look at some of the steps taken by the ENKS more positively. We told them that within that coalition (we were talking about the Syrian National Coalition) not all of Syria’s opposition is represented. We claimed that the coalition did not represent the whole of Syria. We said that that coalition is mostly made up of Arab nationalists and chauvinists. We said that from our own observations they have not shown a mentality that is willing to accept and include other peoples. We said that they showed an insistant attitude toward forbidding Kurdish aspirations. We made it clear for that reason we would not join the coalition. We told them this very openly. But still we made the suggestion that this tent could be formed and that Kurds could join as an independent group. How we will participate in the Geneva conference concerns us. It does not concern Turkey. I mean we will not negotiate this with anyone.
When Turkey went to Lausanne they said “We also represent the Kurds.” İsmet İnönü also brought some Kurds with him at that time. I wonder does Turkey want to update this practice from Lausanne in regards to Rojava?
It seems like that. The politics of the coalition here are Turkey’s politics.Turkey is putting the same plan in place here. I mean in gathering the entirety of the Syrian opposition under one tent. They do not want any party not in that tent to be at Geneva. However Russia also wants the entire coalition to be together, but it wants divisions. For example its wants the Committee El Tensiq (For Change), the High Council and the Syrian National Council to be there. America has an opinion that is close to that of Turkey’s. We understood that from their embassy. However it was clear that the American Embassy in Turkey thinks this way much more than the Americans themselves. They have now accepted that the Kurds are their own force and can join as their own group. The politics that the Turkish Government has directed against the Kurds is not the right politics. Turkey should reevaluate this policy. If they continue like this these gangs will be a scourge for the people of Turkey either tomorrow or the next day. Turkey needs to accept the existence of the Kurds. And they should accept that there is a people in Rojava and that people is Kurdish, and that they are directing a struggle for the preservation of their own regions. They should know that they have the right to a free life in their own lands. They should adopt neighborly relations with Rojava…
The Foreign Minister Davutoğlu – who did not meet with the comittee in Ankara – has met with te president of the El Party Abdulhakim Başar; the Secretary of the Syrian Kurdish Union Party, İbrahim Bro; and Mustafa Sino from the Kurdish Democratic Party. What does this mean?
By our estimation they met on the point of their joining the coalition. How will ENKS join the coalition? They probably spoke about these subjects and debated them. With them our agenda was different. Our agenda was that the border crossings be open and that humanitarian aid be allowed to pass. A new page should have been opened in regards to Turkey. We spoke with them about this but they told us how they would join the coalition.