‘Syrian Kurds’ Fate Will Affect Whole Middle East’
Syria’s Kurds have emerged as a crucial player in the conflict. DW spoke to the head of the main Kurdish political party in northeasten Syria, Salih Muslim Muhammad, about the impact of the crisis on the Middle East.
DW: DW has met Kurdish fighters at checkpoints who claimed not to have fired a single shot. It’s difficult to believe given the increasing levels of violence in the rest of the country…
Salih Muslim Muhammad: Believe it or not, this might be one the only region in the country where the Syrians’ will is still respected because there are no foreign hands interfering in our areas. From the very beginning we Kurds were demonstrating for freedom and democracy; we wanted a peaceful revolution, not an armed one. It was the regime which dragged the protests into an armed conflict because they are stronger. For the time being, we have managed to protect ourselves and keep our areas quiet despite a few local incidents in Kobani and Afrin. We’re doubtless part of the revolution but this is the Syria we want, not what others want.
But rumors have it that your party has negotiated a truce with Bashar Assad’s government.
There’s been no agreement with anybody whatsoever. Just tell me: who wants the fighting in Syria? Turkey? We have no relations with Turkey. Saudi Arabia? Qatar? NATO? We have no relation with them as they’ve never recognized our existence; none of them has ever supported the Syrian Kurds. Damascus knows we just want our constitutional rights, that is why they’re not afraid of us. We knew Assad would not fall in just two months, that’s why we organized our people into civilian defence committees long ago. Actually, we already had some checkpoints a year ago and the government simply couldn’t do anything about it. In July there were clashes between the Free Syrian Army and Assad’s troops, very close to Kobani, a critical area for Damascus’ intelligence. Nonetheless, in areas like in Qamishli, Assad has his own checkpoints but they’re not manning them, nor are they patrolling the city.