Kurdish Leaders Meet To End Feud And Save Kobane By Alexander Whitcomb
“If the two Kurdish sides can join in one united force, we will make major headway with international support.”
Kurdish leaders meet to end feud and save Kobane
DOHUK, Kurdistan Region–Syrian Kurdish groups were holding talks here on Wednesday aimed at ending a long-running feud and unite to face the challenge from Islamic State fighters besieging the Kurdish border town of Kobane.
“All Kurdish people are under attack, so they should be united,” said Salih Muslim, head of the PYD, the main party in Syrian Kurdistan, whose People’s Protection Units (YPG) are defending Kobane.
He told Rudaw conditions on the ground were forcing Kurds to unite. Muslim said Kurds had the support of the international coalition but air strikes were not enough. “The only people on the ground are the YPG,” he said, adding that the Kurdish militia needed weapons to confront ISIS’s tanks and armour.
Muslim said he had held a private meeting with Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, to discuss the crisis. The two leaders have been at odds in the past over the policy to adopt toward the civil war in Syria, and the Kurdish role.
The Dohok meetings, which involve parties that have feuded with the PYD, underline the severity of the present situation in which not only Kobane in threatened but also other enclaves of Syrian Kurdistan against which ISIS is active.
Mustafa Mashaikh, a member of the Kurdish Democratic Unity Party in Syria, insisted that this was the time to reach a deal.
“We Kurds have been attacked by both the Syrian regime and ISIS. The citizens of Kobane have been evacuated. We are fearful that they will attack Afrin and Jazeera,” the two other Kurdish enclaves in Syria, both cut off from Kobane by ISIS troops.
“We need unity this hour to protect our people, that is why we have been called here by President Barzani,” who hosted the meeting at a government compound in Dohuk.
The always frosty relationship between the ruling PYD and other Kurdish parties currently locked out of government broke down after the collapse of a power-sharing agreement reached in 2012 that would have created an all-embracing Kurdish Supreme Council (KSC) to govern Syrian Kurdistan.
The deal, sealed in Erbil under the auspices of President Massoud Barzani, foundered over the refusal of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party to accept the PYD’s unilateral declarations of autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan last year and this. The two sides were also at odds over cooperation with other elements of the moderate Arab opposition in Syria, and whether to participate in the fight Syrian Government forces.
Syrian Kurdish parties, some with links to the KDP, have accused the PYD of hogging power in the territory it controls through its YPG militia.
The PYD, for its part, blasted the KDP for building a trench to block their border and denying entry to Syrian Kurdish officials, journalists, activists and politicians, including PYD leader Salih Muslim.
A rapprochement would open the way for tighter inter-Kurdish cooperation on facing the ISIS threat, although some analysts were skeptical about how much support the KRG could offer to help save the besieged Syrian-Kurdish town of Kobane.
“I don’t believe that the KRG has troops or weapons to spare to send to Kobane, even if they could get them there,” Harriet Allsopp, research fellow at the Middle East Research Institute, told Rudaw.
“The Peshmerga are fighting ISIS on their borders and have a long border to protect,” she said.
Ibrahim Biro, also of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria, said the meeting principally focused on Kobane and the prospect of cooperation in the struggle against ISIS.
“We are seeing the international powers fight ISIS,” he said. “If the two Kurdish sides can join in one united force, we will make major headway with international support.”
YPG forces fighting ISIS have made desperate pleas for more powerful weapons to fight ISIS. If the meeting