(photo credit: FARIDON ABBAS)
The US administration and State Department officials as well as Israeli officials have expressed sympathy for Kurdish autonomy, but they have largely not turned this into concrete action, Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, president of Kurdistan National Assembly – Syria, told The Jerusalem Post.
“Israel needs to think strategically by reaching out to Kurds, which will weaken their enemies,” he said, adding that instead, Israel has recently been trying to tailor its policy to fit with that of the Arabs and Turkey.
“Turkey is not Israel’s friend,” he emphasized, referring to the government ruled by the Islamist AKP.
Turkey would rather have Islamic State and al-Qaida’s Nusra Front as its neighbors in northern Syria rather than the Kurds, asserted Abbas.
“The only functioning and positive areas in Iraq and Syria are Kurdish controlled, so why doesn’t the West more fully support us?” asked the Washington- based Kurd activist in an interview on Sunday.
Abbas referred to the fact that Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran are surrounded by governments that oppose their independence or autonomy and therefore, the Kurds understand Western support is crucial.
Questioned about the internal situation in Syria, he said that the Syrian regime would not be able to retake control of the entire country.
Asked why the main Syrian Kurdish force, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), is not leading the attack into Arab areas to eliminate Islamic State, Abbas responded, “Why should we fight this war and then afterward the US will come to us and say to hand over the land to rebel groups controlled by Turkey, Qatar and the Saudis?” Regarding opposition groups in Syria, Abbas claims that most that are not Islamist come from the same Ba’athist ideological mode of thought as those in President Bashar Assad’s Ba’athist regime.
He notes that many of those people that are now leaders in various opposition groups were once involved in the Syrian military and so what is really going on is a power struggle.
“For us it is not acceptable,” continued Abbas, speculating that in a post-Assad Syria “the same cultural and educational discrimination against non-Arabs such as the Kurds would continue.”
“Most people from the rebels call for some kind of ethnic cleansing of the Kurds in Syria or are only willing to offer citizenship, but with few rights,” he said, going on to comment that others accuse the Kurds of being a “Zionist implant to be destroyed.”
“This is the mentality” of many of the rebel groups, he argued.
He noted that the YPG has taken a receptive stance toward the regime and as of late warm signs from Russia in favor of Kurdish autonomy were well received.
Abbas says that senior figures of the Assad regime have reached out to the Syrian Kurds and as a result of the understanding between the sides, the regime refrained from bombing Kurd areas.
The Syrian Kurds are seeking an autonomous region in northern Syria within a federal state. The Kurdistan National Assembly – Syria that Abbas heads takes a more anti-Assad stance, calling for the end of Assad’s reign and a democratic federal Syria.
Representatives from Assad’s Alawite sect have told us they support a federal system, something other minorities such as the Druse seek, but that Iran opposes such a system.
“Iran is worried that a federal system would set a precedent for similar demands from its large minority communities,” he said.
Asked about divisions within the Syrian Kurd camp, he said there are efforts to unite the various groups within Syria and, in fact, there are plans under way to bring the leaders to Washington to meet members of Congress and presidential candidates.
“Hezbollah and Iran are now controlling Syria. Assad is there in name only, but the real power is held by Shi’ite militias and Iran,” said Abbas.