The Maghreb and Orient Courier, May 2017
Rarely taken into account in the analyses made about the future of the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), an opposition exists to the dominant Kurdish current represented by the PYD-YPG (Syrian political and arm of the PKK).
The Maghreb and Orient Courier met Ibrahim Biro in an hotel in Erbil.
He is the head of the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNCS), exiled in the Iraqi Kurdistan.
The liberal philosophy of the KNCS breaks with the Marxist lines of the PKK, as does the proposal of Ibrahim Biro for a reconciliation and pragmatic attitude towards Turkey.
Ibrahim Biro does not hold back his words about the intentions of the fighters of the YPG, of whom the West has made heroes opposing the Islamic State.
Pierre Piccinin da Prata (MOC) – What exactly is the Syrian National Council?
Ibrahim Biro – So… The Kurdish Council oversees 13 Kurdish political parties. It also has a number of female members, women. And also many social figures: people who are well-known in Syrian Kurdistan. It was established in November 2011, after the Syrian revolution started. The members, the parties, the organisations, in the Syrian Council have for many decades exercised political activities against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. For decades! And civil activities as well. As you know the Syrian regime oppresses the Kurdish people in Syria. And even before the Syrian revolution, one of the activities we had was a civil movement and protests against the regime.
Dozens of our members in different parties were imprisoned by the regime. I’m one of those, I was also imprisoned by the regime. Once the Syrian revolution started, we as the Kurdish movement, the Kurdish political parties, thought it was in our interest to come together, under one umbrella.
PPdP – This umbrella is the Kurdish National Council?
Ibrahim Biro – The Kurdish National Council in Syria. This is the title. In Kurdish it is “ENKS”. Similar to all the other groups in Syria, we were divided. One part of us joined and took sides with the regime, and the other half went into the opposition.
PPdP – Which part joined the regime?
Ibrahim Biro – The PYD. The PYD itself created other organisations. To give an example: they created a council called the “People’s Council in Rojava”. Then they changed their name to “Democratic Civil Movement”. The PYD is the political face of the YPG and closely linked to the PKK…
I should have explained this in the beginning: one of our colleagues, Abdel Hakim Bashar is a member of the leadership in the Kurdish National Council, and he is the deputy to the official Syrian opposition. So, we are officially part of the Syrian opposition to Bashar al-Assad.
Of course, he is also a member of the High Negotiations Committee. Every time Bashar al-Assad speaks to the opposition, the opposition is represented by a number of individuals. Our colleague is a member of that negotiation committee.
There were three rounds of Geneva talks. The first one was neither attended by the opposition, nor by Bashar. At the second round, the opposition did attend, and he was a member of the negotiation committee. Between the opposition and the regime.
PPdP – Who is Abdel Hakim, the representative of the Kurdish National Council? Is he in Damascus?
Ibrahim Biro – The High Negotiation Committee is in Riyadh, but he is based in Erbil. He is not in Erbil today. The Syrian opposition’s official headquarter is based in Istanbul.
By the way, I’m from Qamishli, from Syrian Kurdistan. Four months ago, I tried to go back, but PYD arrested me and kicked me out.
PPdP – At the beginning the Kurdish National Council was 13 parties, right?
Ibrahim Biro – Yes, they were…
PPdP – But now a lot of them have left to join the PYD to support YPG, isn’t it?
Ibrahim Biro – You’re right. But the parties were divided. Some individuals decided to stay with us, some have joined the PYD.
To give an example: One of our party’s secretaries left and joined the PYD. The leadership and the members… The party is broken! But, no party has entirely left the Kurdish Council.
PPdP – All the parties in the Kurdish National Council refuse to support the YPG?
Ibrahim Biro – There is no doubt! We have big differences between us.
PPdP – All refuse to support the YPG… There is no discussion?
Ibrahim Biro – There were three agreements that we had with PYD, under the auspices of Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. The latest one was in Dohuk. They called it the “Dohuk agreement”, signed in 2014. But PYD couldn’t implement the agreement because of two reasons.
The first reason is that the PYD is clearly part of PKK. PYD, as part of the PKK movement and its organisation, its ideology, is part of the Stalin kind of movement. It’s because of this that they cannot work in partnership with anyone else.
The second thing is the PYD agreement with the regime… Their objective, or their plan, is to look at Syria as a whole.
PPdP – Is it an agreement between the PYD and the regime?
Ibrahim Biro – Just after the Syrian revolution started, the regime asked…