Masoud Barzani with Erdogan
So, Nechirvan Barzani heads to Ankara and sits on a Golden chair shaking hands with Sultan Erdogan. Shortly afterwards, KDP and its affiliates in Rojava begin an intense media campaign against PYD and YPG.
This started with a fictitious event where supposedly the 'Ala Rengin' (South Kurdistan flag) was burnt. The sole video used as proof of this claim is a strange, poorly recorded video with a lot of yelling in a backyard and no flag in sight. Then Masoud Barzani, expired President of the KRG and the KDP, comes out strongly in response and says those who burnt the Kurdish flag will pay the price. Naturally, laughter ensues because of pictures that went viral last year showing Turkish soldiers in South Kurdistan burning the Ala Rengin (Turkey has military bases in South Kurdistan – with KDP’s invitation and blessings). There was complete silence in that instance and yet he stands so strongly here. More profoundly though, one has to question where Masoud’s principles were when 150 civilian Kurds were burnt in the basements of Cizre. Or why he’s been so quiet whilst Erdogan carries out a premeditated policy of ethnic cleansing in North Kurdistan.
Then there are the strange protests in Germany of about 20 Kurds (where there is roughly a million Kurds) protesting against PYD/YPG and calling them terrorists. It is not a coincidence that this political stance mirrors those who commit massacres in North Kurdistan. However, it is saddening to see that these ‘nationalist’ Kurds have time to criticism their brethren and yet remain suspiciously quiet in the face of Turkey’s policy of ethnic cleansing. In addition, Syrian National Council (SNC – coalition of ‘rebel’ forces of which KNC is a member) arguments refer to YPG as a separatist force - incredibly strange considering that the KNC is a proxy for the KDP, the ultra-nationalists of Kurdistan, whilst PYD has repeatedly stated they are all for maintaining the sovereignty of Syria.
This strange go-where-the-wind-blows politics leads to some hilarious contradictions. Another instance was KNC (as part of the 'rebel' SNC umbrella) criticising the PYD for announcing Federalism in Rojava whilst they themselves have been “in favour of federalism since 2012". Their criticism was that this declaration lacked the “urgently needed debate and democratic participation possible to come to that decision”. The hypocrisy here is that federalism was announced after the PYD was excluded from the Geneva talks. The KNC was pushed as the sole representative of Kurds by both the SNC and their sponsors, including Turkey. They attended the Geneva talks as the sole representative of Kurds in Syria even though the PYD quite clearly has by far the biggest role and supporters in the war. These inconsistencies are not new, indeed they bear the hallmarks of both the KDP and Turkey.
Dodgy, hilarious and ill-thought policies aside, there is a more dangerous undercurrent here. There is a clear pressure by Turkey to force KDP to fight a civil war with the PKK in South Kurdistan and the PYD in Rojava. Considering the precarious situation in Rojava and the terrible cocktail of armed forces vying for control in South Kurdistan, a civil war could have devastating consequences on the Kurdish movement, potentially setting it back decades.
These fears have merit. The KDP has a very long history of siding with our oppressors against their brethren in order to maintain their hegemony. Whether this was killing KDPI alongside Pasdar (Iranian secret services) in the 80s, fighting PUK with the aid of Saddam’s tanks or killing PKK guerrillas at the behest of Turkey in the 90s, KDP has shown an eager willingness to betray other Kurdish parties for their own interests. Thus, the KDP is not interested in the true liberation of the Kurdish people but in setting up a nepotistic oligarchy in Kurdistan. Naturally, this would be far easier to control for occupying states than the emancipatory system being implemented in Rojava.
It is with this idea in mind that Turkey is pursuing a policy of installing a pro-KDP government in power in Rojava. This would supposedly deter criticism from the West (and perhaps the East) if the Kurds were to be crushed (along with any hopes of autonomy) in the Syrian civil war whilst simultaneously reversing gains by the PYD whom Turkey conflates with the PKK.
It should be noted that the KDP too, have no choice but to follow this strategy. Their heavy reliance on Turkey through illegal oil sales have virtually enshrined a vassal-like mentality within the KDP hierarchy towards Turkey. Should Turkey fall into ruin or suffer a serious defeat, then naturally KDP will feel the repercussions as well.
Nevertheless, on the other hand, the PYD have shown to be excellent strategists with YPG being the only force currently having both the US and Russia vying for their alliance. It has built relations with many different forces in the region and has begun to develop a system that is both ecological and self-reliant. This is in order for Rojava to survive the economic blockades of ISIS to the south, Turkey to the north and, shamefully, KDP to the east.
In addition to blocking all traffic to and from Rojava, the KDP has also been maintaining a blockade of Shingal (Sinjar). According to a Human Rights Watch report, KDP’s policies in regards to Shingal began after PKK’s presence and influence grew exponentially after its armed force the HPG alongside YPG and YPJ created a corridor of safety for Ezidis (Yazidis) to escape from the Genocide of 2014. The Genocide of 2014 was devastating on the collective psyche of not only Ezidis but the greater Kurdish community as well. Even more damning was that the Genocide was enabled by a proactive withdrawal of Peshmerga by the KDP shortly after the ISIS attack leaving Ezidi civilians at the mercy of the terrorists.
As if this were not enough, now the KDP, both for their own interests and at the behest of Turkey, maintain a blockade on Shingal. This is in order to pressure PKK to withdraw from Shingal as well as to coerce Ezidis back into KDP’s sphere of influence.
For all intensive purposes, the KDP is waging a cold war with the PKK and their affiliates in Rojava. This policy has increased in pressure and volume as KDP-affiliated Kurdish media sites begin waves of propaganda in the wake of Nechirvan Barzani’s visit to Ankara.
It seems ironic and fitting then to finish with a quote by Mala Mustafa Barzani, the founder of the KDP and Masoud Barzani's father: “If you cannot serve your nation, at least do not betray them.”
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