An Exclusive Interview with Premier of Kobane Anwar Moslem About Ongoing ISIS Attacks

Moslem: International Community Should Support Kobane Against ISIS

Mutlu Civiroglu Kobane_YPG

Mr Anwar Moslem, Premier of Kobane Canton in Rojava, over the recent days, the ISIS has been waging remarkably severe attacks on Kobane and its surrounding villages. First of all, please give us the latest about what has been going on in Kobane?

Enwer Mislim

Anwar Moslem: Yes, that’s right. It is almost a year a devastating war has been waging on Kobane in order to seize it. But since two days ago, they have been waging an unprecedented attack on Kobane from east, south, and west with the tanks, artilleries, and Humvees they had seized in Mosul. They have been doing their very best to make Kobane give up. They have an intention of committing a massacre in Kobane like how they made people of Shengal flee, how they were massacred, how women were seized and enslaved, how kids were killed; the ISIS wants to inflict the same predicament upon Kobane. That’s why a remarkable resistance and bravery, led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), is being waged against those extremist forces. But unfortunately, their heavy weaponry have caused many problems for us. Our people’s resistance, however, has been noticeable until the moment we are having this conversation.

How long people of Kobane will be able to resist in front of those heavy weaponry shown on videos?

Anwar Moslem: Kobane’s resistance had been substantiated before, and it is going on again. They are using the very sophisticated and developed American weaponry e.g. tanks, Humvees, and long-range mortars they seized in Mosul. People of Kobane are saying, as they had frequently said before, “we will resist till the last one of us gets martyred.” Indeed, there has been a historic YPG resistance; it is not sufficient, though. They are in desperate need of an international support. Kobane Canton needs support of all Kurds living inside or outside Kurdistan. The situation is extremely dangerous. If something happens to Kobane, all those who claim they care about human rights and lives will be held accountable.

You pointed to an international support. A special meeting was held in Paris; The US president, Barack Obama, has released several speeches talking about a military operation against the ISIS. Have you ever received any assistance from these forces thus far? Or, have you had any meeting with them asking them to help you?

Anwar Moslem: I am afraid we have not received any assistance till this moment. Despite what had been agreed upon in Paris and the US president Obama’s emphasis upon the attack against the ISIS, nothing has been dispatched to us so far. We hope the international community and especially the USA, Russia, France, and the UK will get started with attacking the ISIS as soon as possible. The ISIS is growing so fast and if this trend does not stop, they will be too strong to be defeated by people; and, that’s when we will witness a huge, bloody massacre. We hope that those states will come to help us through attacking the ISIS as soon as possible.

There are some accusations spreading in Kurdish media based upon which Turkey has been helping the ISIS, and a train had been sent to the border carrying assistance to the ISIS. What do you have to say in this regard?

Anwar Moslem: Based on the intelligence we got two days before the breakout of the current war, trains full of forces and ammunition, which were passing by north of Kobane, had an-hour-and-ten-to-twenty-minute-long stops in these villages: Salib Qaran, Gire Sor, Moshrefat Ezzo. There are evidences, witnesses, and videos about this. What attracts one’s attention is why the ISIS is strong only in Kobane’s east? Why is it not strong neither in its south nor in west? Since these trains stopped in those villages located in east of Kobane, we guess they had brought ammunition and additional force for the ISIS.

Well, where are those videos? How can public opinion get access to them?

Anwar Moslem: Most of our witnesses are the ones forced to leave those villages. If news agencies come to the region, we will help them meet those IDPs. If members of international organizations come to visit Kobane, they will be able to meet all those who have seen the trains. To make trains stop in villages controlled by the ISIS persuades one that something wrong is going on.

There are many reports about a couple of villages seized by the ISIS. I want to know if there is a tactic to leave those villages or not. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the number of those villages is twenty. How many villages the YPG have lost so far, and what are the reasons for these losses?


Anwar Moslem: we know how barbaric the ISIS has attacked civilians in those villages. It has been shelling those villages in order to force residents leave their villages. According to the YPG, 15 villages have been left so far whereas the resistance is still going on. Those who have left their villages are afraid of the ISIS atrocious methods in treating civilians. That’s why, they have fled to Kobane. But a severe response will be waged soon.

How far the ISIS is from Kobane city?

Anwar Moslem: They are 25 to 30 kilometers far from Kobane.

You addressed the world community. What do you have to say to Kurds?

Anwar Moslem: Kobane is the manifestation of Kurds’ will. Kobane is a part of Rojava. Kobane is a part of Kurdistan. Kobane’s collapse is Kurdish people’s collapse. And, we do not want it to collapse. We are calling upon those from Kobane living outside to come back to Kobane, center of honor and bravery, in order to protect their own people. We are calling on all Kurdish people, especially those from Northern Kurdistan [Kurdistan of Turkey), to head towards Kobane and protect their own brothers and sisters again, like they had done it before.

We are calling upon Kurds of Eastern and Southern Kurdistan [Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan] to come and participate in this resistance. Whoever of honor and conscience, based upon their opportunity, via demonstrations, via holding protests in front of embassies of those countries helping the ISIS, they can help Kobane. These activities will inspire our girls and boys in the battlefield.

Based upon some Kurdish news agencies, those from Kobane living outside and want to go back to Kobane are facing hardships in the border line by the Turkish authorities. Do you confirm these news?

Anwar Moslem: Yes, that’s right. It regularly happens. But our people from Northern Kurdistan will also join us despite the difficulties created by the Turkish authorities. Those who want to cross the border to Kobane, they can do it one way or another despite all those hardships. But Turkish authorities must realize that if the ISIS seizes Kobane, they will soon head to Turkey. Turkish officials must take this fact into account and help Kobane and let Kobane’s boys and girls cross the borders to their own city.

I want to know the number of casualties. How many YPG fighters have lost their lives? How many of the ISIS members have been killed? Yesterday, there were some news about the high number of the ISIS casualties in the Manbij Hospital. Give us some information in this regard, please.


Anwar Moslem: That’s right. YPG’s heroic resistance has inflicted a high number of casualties upon them, not only in Manbij but also in Tel Abyad as well. Today, some of their wounded members were crossed into Turkey in order to get cured. We have had 8 martyrs until this moment. But, tens of their members have been killed so far.

How can it be possible? I mean, despite all their heavy attacks, why the YPG’s casualties are not high?

Anwar Moslem: The ISIS wages attacks with high numbers upon a given place. And, the YPG members resist. Since they are in an offensive and we are in a defensive position, despite our light weaponry, we inflict high casualties upon them without having many martyrs. And, sometimes we do tactical withdrawals.

What about Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG’s) support. Have you ever received any assistance from the KRG?

Anwar Moslem: We hope to be heard by the KRG. We have not received any support up until now. But we are looking forward to receiving help from our brothers in Southern Kurdistan. They have already witnessed what happened to Ezidi Kurds in Shengal [Sinjar]. Let us not allow the same massacres to take place in Kobane. That’s why we hope people of Southern Kurdistan will join this campaign in defense of Kobane.

My last question is, as the president of Kobane Canton, you visit villages. I want to know about people’s spirit in Kobane and its surrounding villages.

Anwar Moslem: Despite the heavy war going on, people’s spirit is noticeably high. The vast majority of them say they will continue their resistance before they make these attacks fail. But unfortunately, there is a small number of people who are scared of ISIS atrocities. They want to leave Kobane but a whopping majority of people, including Arabs and Turkmens, have been resisting against the ISIS and their spirit is remarkably impressive.

Again, we are repeating our call upon international forces especially USA, UK and France and others to help Kobane against the ISIS whose only goal is to annihilate all dissident peoples and religions.


You can follow me on Twitter for updates from Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq @mutludc

For feedback, question and interview requests: or +1202-241-0506

Yezidi Demonstration in Front of the White House

photo 1

Yezidi community in Washington, DC and their non-Yezidi Kurdish brethren held a demonstration in front of the White House on August 9, 2014 to demand more help from President Obama.


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Who Are Yezidis? Yezidis, who refer to themselves as Ezidis, are a Kurdish non-Muslim population living predominantly in the Sinjar (Şengal) region near Mosul. A sizable Yezidi population also lives in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Sheikhan, where the most important Yezidi holy site Lalesh is located.

In Turkey, small numbers of Yezidis live in Batman, Sanliurfa, Mardin, and Diyarbakir. Others live in Syria, Armenia, Georgia, as well as Europe, Canada and the United States. Yezidi religious traditions, including prayers and holy books, are administered in the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish. In recent years especially, the Yezidis have been accepted as an important element of the broader Kurdish identity.

Yezidi Demonstrations in Washington, DC & North American Cities

Yezidi Community in Washington, DC and some other cities will hold a some rallies to draw attention to critical situation of thousands of Yezidi children, women and elderly who are stranded in mountains.



A group of devastated Yezidi women who safely arrived Kurdstan of  Syria, Rojava speaks about the catastrophic situation of Yezidi civilians in Sinjar Region who fled from ISIS


Video- US Humanitarian Air Drop over Sinjar Mountains where thousands of Yezidi people are still trapped



Washington, DC

August 9 between 11:00am to 3:00pm

In Front of the White House




August 9 between 12:00am to 3:00pm

Dundas Square




August 9 between 4:00pm to 6:00pm

In front of CNN Center




August 11 between 10:00am to 12:00pm

In Front of Canadian Parliament

*** +1202-2410506


Yezidi Women Cry for Help


In a demonstration in Germany, a group of Yezidi Women cry for their relatives in Shingal, Mosul who under ISIS atrocities


For questions, comments and interview requests: +1202-241-0506

ISIS Attacks on Kobane and YPG’s Response


Mutlu Civiroglu

After taking over Mosul and some other cities in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) or with its new name Islamic State (IS) has launched a large offensive against Kobane (Ain al-Arab) on Wednesday, July 2. ISIS attacks supported by 10 tanks and other armored vehicles including US Humvees, were concentrated in the west of Kobane around several villages mostly against Zormixar, a strategic village overlooking town of Jarablus.

One important difference of these recent attacks is that ISIS has been employing many Western made heavy weapons seized from Iraqi army around Mosul in the past weeks. Moreover, YPG sources are stating that Iraqi generals from the Saddam era have joined ISIS and are coordinating the attacks against the Kurds. The main questions for Syria analysts was whether or not the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) had advanced weaponry and military capabilities that could repel these attacks and keep control of the region.

Two days after the offensive, on Friday, the YPG withdrew from Zormixar and other villages after ISIS bombarded the region with over 3000 mortars. Although YPG forces stated that this was a tactical move, some analysts interpreted this as a sign of possible defeat. After fierce clashes between the two sides, YPG forces managed to take back control of Zormixar as well as Khrab Ato, Bayadia, Ziyareteh and Jadidah villages. Currently some smaller scale clashes continue with remaining ISIS fighters, but local sources say the situation is pretty much under YPG control and the morale of the people of high.

YPG Media Office announced on Sunday, July 6 that ISIS offensive had been broken and around 200 ISIS fighters were killed. Sources that I spoke with in Kobane also verified that a lot of ISIS fighters had been killed and that their unburied bodies were scattered all over the battle field. Local sources also report that some of the fighters were blonde haired and bright skinned in appearance. According to YPG statements around 40 of their own fighters lost their lives in these recent attacks.

YPG also announced that its forces destroyed several ISIS tanks and other vehicles as well as seizing a wide range of weapons and ammunition.

Why Does ISIS Focus it’s Attacks on Kobane?
ISIS attacks against Kobane are significant for several reasons. First, with the recent confidence gained by taking over Mosul and other cities in Iraq, ISIS wants to expand its control over a larger territory of Syria as well. After seizing two oil fields from a rival extremist group, ISIS wants to seize Kobane which remains in the middle of territories under its control. ISIS currently controls Girsespi (Tall Abyad), Jarablus and Raqqah. It desperately wants Kobane to connect the regions under its control and make it a part of the “Islamic State”. Taking control of such an important city will enable ISIS to seize new territories from the direction of east and west, in addition to connecting Tall Abyad and Jarablus.

Furthermore, being a border city with Suruc of Sanliurfa province of Turkey, seizing Kobane will also allow ISIS to control the Mursitpinar Border Gate with Turkey as well. It is well known that ISIS gives specific importance to border gates especially for trade, easy crossing for fighters and logistics, the treatment of injured fighters etc. In this regard, it is increasingly likely that ISIS will plan attacks on other border crossings controlled by the Kurds like Serekaniye and Til Kochar (Yarubia), and crossings controlled by rival Islamist groups in Azaz.

In addition, ISIS also wants to cut Kobane from the Kurdish Mountain Region (Kurd Dagh) or Canton of Afrin and Canton of Jazira (Hasakah). As of now, moving between three Kurdish Cantons is difficult. According to local officials, currently hundreds of civilians are also held hostage in Jarablus and Tall Abyad. Also some 130 Kurdish students who were kidnapped by the group remain in captivity for over a month after they were kidnapped as they were returning from school exams in Aleppo. Despite all calls from international human rights groups those children and other civilians are still not released and are being used as a bargaining chip to pressurize YPG, according to local human rights defenders.
If Kobane falls to ISIS, such a possibility will bring some additional advantages for ISIS to further pursue its goals. It is apparent that ISIS does not hesitate to use any means to seize the city including kidnapping civilians and crucifying them, destroying houses and taking properties and even cutting off the water of the city.

Due to the fact that the taking of Kobane will be very advantageous for ISIS, it is not holding back from committing all sorts of cruelty against the people. ISIS is kidnapping civilians, publicly crucifying them and killing them by torture. Local sources are frequently reporting that ISIS is ransacking civilian homes and confiscating civilian property. As a matter of fact, it is well known that ISIS has on several occasions cut off the drinking water supply to Kobane.

One other factor to remember is that Kobane is the first city in Rojava to have been freed from the Assad regime on July 19, 2012. Therefore, the city has a special meaning for Kurds in Rojava. If the Kurds lose this city it will also have a demoralizing impact on them and their struggle for self-rule. Therefore, attacking Kobane is also attacking the massive gains of the Kurds in Syria, and a message for Kurds that ISIS [and its regional supporters] will not allow Kurdish autonomy in Syria. YPG sources and local officials expect that ISIS will be very likely to intensify its attacks as the second anniversary of the Kurdish takeover of the city approaches.

In fact, already news has come in that on Monday and Tuesday July 7and 8, ISIS launched new attacks on Kobane from the south and the east. YPG announced that in the fighting that occurred 35km south of Kobane close to Kunheftar, 40 members of ISIS were killed and that 2 YPG fighters had lost their lives.

YPG, along with the Kurdish Front (KF) and some other Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades, also managed to break ISIS attacks from the east of Kobane which were aimed at sandwiching in YPG forces from both directions. It is known that there was intense clashes between YPG fighters and hundreds of ISIS fighters supported by tanks from Tall Abyad who had launched an attack that began on Monday, the 7th of July and continued on Tuesday and Wednesday. Local sources reported that the YPG had destroyed several tanks and killed tens of ISIS members while also adding that the YPH had also suffered serious losses.

On the 9th of July, news came in from Kobane that 2 of the YPG fighters had possibly lost their lives as a result of a chemical weapon. It is worth reminding that the internationally respected Syrian Observatory For Human Rights also reported on this allegation on Wednesday.

As of now, despite ISIS’s possession of advanced weaponry from Iraq, it has been unable to gain the upper hand over the YPG, known for its high military capabilities, its discipline and its popular support. However, as stated above, it is highly likely that ISIS will continue its attacks. In this regard, the statements of the administration of the Kobane Canton, PYD leader Salih Muslim and, on behalf of the KCK, Murat Karayilan on Kobane are very important. Local officials say hundreds of Kobane residents are returning home from neighboring countries to defend their city. Also, hundreds of Kurds from Turkey crossed border to fight against ISIS alongside YPG forces. It is without a doubt that the future of Kobane is both significant for the Kurdish gains in Rojava, and also for the Kurds in other parts.

ISIS Attacks on Hasakah

In the long run reaching Hasakah is one of the major goals of ISIS. But, Hasakah is currently controlled by three different forces, YPG (in Kurdish side of the city), Assad and the opposition. So, it is not that easy for ISIS to take control of Hasakah, but they certainly want to expand their control in Syria.

Hasakah City is the administrative center of the Hasakah governorate. It is an important road junction near the Turkish and Iraqi borders. It is also an important agricultural region; wheat, rice, cotton etc. It is also close to the oil fields in north (Ramalan area). In a way, controlling Hasakah will provide any group with an important advantage over the others.

Given YPG’s superior military capabilities, discipline and its large popular support base it makes it very difficult for ISIS to defeat YPG in Kobane, Hasakah or elsewhere. Even with advanced Western weaponry ISIS obtained from Iraq seem to have not helped the group to seize Kobane thus far.

YPG Chief Commander Sipan Hemo: Kurds in Syria ‘Deserve’ US Support


Sipan Hemo is the commander-in-chief of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), perhaps the most organized fighting force in Syria. Based in predominantly Kurdish areas, which are known as Rojava, the YPG has fought Islamic groups for two years and is controlling security for the region.

In a wide-ranging interview, Hemo addressed the state of the current conflict in Syria and the rise of Islamic extremist militias in Iraq and Syria, which he claims is intertwined with global powers. Hemo also makes the case why YPG and the Kurds should receive US funding.

Rudaw: Mr. Hemo, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which you have fought for a long time, has received a lot of international attention since they took Mosul. What are your thoughts on ISIS as an organization and its attacks in Iraq?

Sipan Hemo: To understand the latest attacks by ISIS in Iraq, you have to understand the background as well. ISIS was shaped by some powers about a year and a half ago to carry out their plans in Syria. ISIS isn’t a random Al-Qaeda organization. We have intelligence on them. There are documents that we acquired. There are also the statements taken from members we captured. When we put all these pieces together, we reached to the conclusion that ISIS was directed under the command of some intelligence services and their agents to implement the policies of certain states in Syria. The most recent developments, as well as what occurred earlier, prove that our theory is correct.

A city like Mosul or some other cities in Iraq aren’t the types of places that a group can take overnight. It’s clear there have been preparations underway for a long time. There are various forces behind these preparations and behind those who launched these attacks. It’s impossible for a city like Mosul to fall under a group’s control without the intelligence apparatuses of international powers knowing it’s happening. Thousands of armed people get together, transfer their heavy artillery and move forward to attack a city like Mosul. It’s illogical that no one was aware of this. Mosul and Kirkuk constitute only one part of these attacks. These are attempts to divide the region in a different way. These are attempts to turn people, cultures, societies, beliefs and groups against each other. These are the attempts to drag the Middle East into a civil war — to have fighting and to create a quagmire. This will serve the interests of international powers, beginning with the arms trade.

To understand the latest attacks by ISIS in Iraq, you have to understand the background as well. ISIS was shaped by some powers about a year and a half ago to carry out their plans in Syria.

We, as YPG, fought in battles with Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) against ISIS gangs in the town of Rabia (on the Syrian-Iraqi border) and in some places near Shangal (Iraq). It doesn’t matter whether it’s Rojava, Mosul or Kirkuk: if required, we YPG, are prepared to use our experience and abilities with our people in the south to fight along the same front against these gangs — this so-called ISIS — to protect our land and victories.

Returning to the subject of ISIS, what seems clear from their actions on the ground is that this organization is at the service of several intelligence agencies and it acts in accordance with their interests. Specifically, there are some western countries — along with the Turkish state on one side and Iran, Iraq and Syria on the other — that have their own plans and calculations over ISIS. In a way, ISIS was merely turning itself into a stick made of fire and everybody was willing to use this stick against one another. They were taking steps in this direction. In other words, these intelligence services have attempted to use this cruel, terrorist structure — created by those who don’t know anything about humanity, leave alone civil law — against one another and against the people in the region.

Rudaw: Is it possible that the ISIS is also using some of the states that support them?

Sipan Hemo: Of course! By standing out with its shrewdness, ISIS has taken advantage of the intelligence services of these countries in a very cunning way in order to establish its own rule all around the region. For example, it’s been almost two years since ISIS began atrociously attacking the Kurds in Rojava. Why has ISIS been attacking or has been made to attack the Kurds? This is because ISIS knew very well that only when it was done attacking the Kurds it could have binding ties with the Turkish intelligence service. And indeed it happened this way because through our fight against them on the ground, we could uncover their true intentions. When they fought us, ISIS was using Turkey’s borders without the objecting of Turkish army and authorities; they were treating all of their wounded militants in Turkish hospitals. Some may say this is an allegation. However, we have official documents in our hands backing what I am saying. One of the ISIS commanders in our captivity said he was treated at Ceylanpinar Public Hospital for nine days.

In reality, if it weren’t for the YPG and the Kurdish people’s struggle against ISIS over the last two years, ISIS would have done the same in northern Syria as what it’s done in Iraq the past few (weeks). They’ve done what they’ve done in Iraq to pave the way for a deep sectarian conflict. ISIS’s success in Iraq certainly isn’t normal. I can sincerely say that there’s no other power in the world that knows as much about ISIS as we do, and ISIS alone — without the backing of other powers — doesn’t have the capacity to take Mosul and capture areas as far as Samara. Can you believe that in just an hour and a half every government official in Mosul surrendered and gave away Mosul?

In reality, if it weren’t for the YPG and the Kurdish people’s struggle against ISIS over the last two years, ISIS would have done the same in northern Syria as what it’s done in Iraq the past few (weeks).

I want to state my views without lending credence to conspiracy theories: Iran, Iraq and Syria are parts of this plan. On the other hand, Turkey and other powers that are working together were also aware of this plan; they even took part in it in one way or another. Iran believes that the more the Middle East is dragged into a quagmire and chaos, the better their chances of protecting their own interests. This is because the western nations’ plans for the Middle East make their job extremely difficult. At the same time, Iran has the dream of uniting and protecting the Shia. In other words, Iran is trying to build sovereignty over the crescent of Shia from Iran all the way through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This dream can only be possible via the deepening of a sectarian conflict.

Rudaw: Where does Turkey stand in this picture that you are describing?

Sipan Hemo: There’s no doubt that Turkey has several distinct calculations. In its effort to assimilate and suppress the Kurds, and its policies of denial, Turkey won’t stop at anything to sabotage Kurdish gains. Turkey itself has always stated that it hasn’t given up its dreams for Mosul and Kirkuk. For this reason, Turkey instructed its special fighting units in Mosul not to fight, but to negotiate. The same instructions were also given to the soldiers protecting the Suleiman Shah Tomb in Kobane. By working with ISIS, Turkey has, for a long time, been changing and renewing her forces at Suleiman Shah Tomb. Turkey hasn’t ever felt uncomfortable about this, nor has any global power.

Of course what I’m saying isn’t valid for the people of Turkey. Innocently, and without being aware of the policies that their government implemented, they’ve been dragged into a catastrophe. I am sure that the people of Turkey aren’t at all happy about this. Unfortunately, however, those powers in Turkey who adopted this unsuccessful policy made Turkey a partner in these dirty games as well. The fact that ISIS is still holding hostage the Turkish diplomatic staff (at the consulate in Mosul) and Turkey’s truck drivers is a plan of Turkish state. The Turkey that we know shouldn’t have acted so passively in this kind of a situation! What happened to the phrase, “A Turk is worth the world!” What has changed? Now so many people from Turkey are in the hands of the gangs but they’re acting so passively. This means that there are things that are organized behind “closed doors.”

If America and other western countries really want democracy and foster the development of democracy in the region then they should acknowledge Kurds.

Rudaw: There are serious discussions in Washington about arming a “moderate” Syrian opposition. What do you think of this? Who are the “moderate opposition?”

Sipan Hemo: Supporting the moderate opposition is among the policies discussed in the US. Isn’t it too late for this? Why has it taken so long? The conflict in Syria is in its fourth year. Firstly, the US should think about what its support for the Syrian opposition has accomplished so far.

Furthermore, whom has the US supported so far if it’s now deciding to support the moderate opposition? This is also a question that comes to mind. As far as we know, the US and western countries have supported certain groups in Syria since 2001. This is nothing new. Maybe they’ve just now realized that their policies over the last three years were wrong.

I have information that the US has promised to support some groups it has contacted via its intelligence chief in Jordan. If the US sees them as “moderate,” then we need to ask what “moderate” means. If the US is serious about this statement, then the Kurds and YPG deserve this support the most. As a matter of fact, I can state that the Kurds are ready in all respects to play a pioneering role for democracy in Syria.

Supporting the moderate opposition is among the policies discussed in the US. Isn’t it too late for this? Why has it taken so long?

We, the Kurds in Rojava, have faced all kinds of attacks over the last four years. We’ve been involved in a relentless war against (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad’s regime forces, against groups supported by outside powers, and against groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, in areas stretching all the way from Afrin to the Jazira region. Al-Qaeda groups have taken control of all of northern Syria except the Kurdish areas. This is a huge victory not only for the Kurds but also for the western world.

We, as the official military forces of Rojava, have stated that we’re prepared to fight ISIS in Mosul. At this point, I’d like to state first to President Barak Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, and then to the people of America: If they don’t want the situation in the Middle East to descend further into chaos, then Washington absolutely needs to change its policy toward the Kurds. This is because the policies thus far haven’t done much to help anyone. Unfortunately, the US to this day hasn’t yet explained where the Kurds in Syria stand politically and what kind of role they play for democracy in Syria. I’d just like to say this: If the goal truly is for democracy to come to the Middle East, and if the moderate forces in Syria are going to be supported, the Kurds are prepared for this and are the ones who deserve it the most.

Rudaw: Your successes against ISIS and other radical Islamic groups have garnered a lot of global media coverage. What do you think of the world’s assessment of YPG? Do you have ties with global powers?

Sipan Hemo: Indeed, YPG’s founding pre-dates the revolution in Syria. Specifically, when the attacks against the Kurdish people in Qamishli (Syria) occurred in 2004, there was a secret decision to create defense apparatuses. Some work was done at that time. So these defense units were created before the revolution in Syria.

However, when the Arab Spring began in Syria, in order to set the Kurdish regions free and to protect the Kurdish victories, YPG started to take action and has been doing so since 2011.

First, on July 19, 2012, we led the effort to drive enemies out of the Kurdish regions, and then we continued to struggle to preserve this victory. Later, YPG declared that it would stand against any threat to the Kurds. YPG declared that it would respond to everyone, regardless of who they might be, if they don’t accept the existence of the Kurds; if they want to overshadow Kurdish victories; and if they plot against the Kurds or make other plans. We’ve been struggling against these kinds of threats to today. We wanted to stay away from politics, or, in a sense, we didn’t want to be involved in a political argument. We’ve been operating according to this principle.

YPG declared that it would respond to everyone, regardless of who they might be, if they don’t accept the existence of the Kurds.

With regard to your question, I’ll pose a question as well: have Kurdish politics been able to change our position to a diplomatic one? Unfortunately, no! Kurdish politics has fallen short in this regard. There are some different reasons behind this. For example, the global powers haven’t understood the politics in Rojava, nor have they decided yet how to deal with it. They also want to make it possible for the central government to do what they want. However, the politics harbored in Rojava aren’t in line with what the world powers want.

Rudaw: Has there been any change recently in the worldview about the YPG? I ask this because in some panels and conferences in Washington, the YPG is being mentioned frequently, especially your successes against ISIS and radical groups.

Sipan Hemo: If America and other western countries really want democracy and foster the development of democracy in the region then they should acknowledge Kurds. Today, in the Middle East, besides the Kurds, there is no other organized force to support democracy. The force that is both sophisticated and has the potential to bring everyone together is this force to which I refer.

If America and west really want democracy, they should build a close and firm relationship with the Kurds. Solving the Kurdish issue will put the global powers in a better and stronger position both in Rojava and anywhere else in the Middle East. This is because the Kurds aren’t imposing their own borders on anyone, and they aren’t isolating themselves from anyone. They talk about democracy. This means they talk about collectivity. The pro-democracy dialogue means they want to work with various groups.

There is a war here, and why is this war is being fought against us? This means we have views that don’t conform to those of radical Islamic groups. Regardless of their intentions, what’s happening in Rojava meshes with the west’s interests as well. One should consider whether they’d be better off if a regime like the (current) one survives in Syria or if there’s the kind of government that the Kurds want. The west’s interests weren’t being met until a cooperative system was formed in south Kurdistan, which shows that the Kurds are more in line with diversity and democracy.

HRW’ye Göre Rojava’nın Başarıları ve Açmazları

ImageSuriye’de Kürtlerin özerk yönetim ilan ettiği Rojava’yı ilk kez ziyaret eden İnsan Hakları İzleme Örgütü (HRW), bölgeyi ‘ülkenin en güvenli ve istikrarlı yeri’ diye tanımlarken Demokratik Birlik Partisi (PYD) ve Demokratik Toplum Hareketi (TEV-DEM) liderliğindeki Kürtlerin silahlı bir güçten iktidara geçmenin zorluklarını yaşadığını not etti.

HRW yetkilisi Fred Abrahams, geziyle ilgili Radikal’in sorularını yanıtladı.

Ziyaretinizin amacı neydi?

Rojava ya yaptığımız gezinin amacı bölgedeki durumu anlayabilmek ve orayı yeterince tanıyabilmekti. Her ne kadar daha önce Esad rejiminin egemenliği altında yasayan Kürtler hakkında araştırmamız olduysa da, özellikle 2004 ve 2005’teki kırılmalar, kovuşturmalar ve yapılan ayırımcılıklar hakkındaki raporların dışında daha önce hiç bölgede bulunmamıştık. Bu bölgeye yaptığımız ilk geziydi ve bölgedeki yaşananların, çatışmaların hızına yetişmemiz için gerekliydi. Bu yüzden biz bu geziyi bütün gelişmeleri sahada görebilmek ve sizin de haberdar olduğunuz gibi Rojava’da yerel yönetimleri oluşturan aktörlerle temas kurabileceğimiz bir fırsat olarak gördük. Rojava’da, bildiğiniz gibi, de facto bir yönetim oluşturmayı basarmış olan bir yapı var. Bu yönetim, askeri anlamda Kürt Halk Savunma Güçleri yani YPG ile siyasal anlamda ise Demokratik Birlik Partisi, PYD.

Böyle bir gerçeklik karşısında biz kendilerine şu mesajı vermek istedik; siz bir yönetim oluşturduğunuz vakit, bu de facto bir yönetim bile olsa, beraberinde legal sorumlulukları da getirir. Örneğin, uymakla yükümlü olduğunuz uluslararası insan hakları normları var. Bizler var olan şartları incelemek, oradaki yönetimin bu konularda ne durumda olduğunu görmek ve kendilerine bu uluslararası normlara uymanın gerekliliğini anlatmak için oraya gittik. Ayrıca, yetkilileri bu konularda nasıl geliştirebileceğimizi de konuştuk.

Peki, siz Rojava’daki yönetimin faaliyetlerini nasıl buldunuz?
Bu konuyla ilgili çok detaylı bir rapor hazırlamakta olduğumuzu belirteyim öncelikle. Genel olarak söylemeliyim ki hem olumlu hem olumsuz izlenimlerimiz var. Fakat bütün bunlardan önce en sevindirici olan şey Suriye’nin geri kalan kesimlerine göre bu bölgenin daha güvenli oluşu. Burada güvenliğin çok iyi olduğu anlamı çıkmasın ancak diğer kesimlere göre burası daha güvenli ve istikrarlı. Tabii ki sınırda bomba yüklü araçlarla yapılan saldırılar, şiddet olayları ve çatışmalar halen devam ediyor ancak korkunç bir durumun hükmettiği diğer parçalarla karşılaştırıldığında buranın güvenli ve istikrarlı olduğu açık.

İnsan hakları ile ilgili durumu ele aldığımızda bu alanda bazı sıkıntıların olduğunu gördük ve bunları direkt olarak oradaki yetkililerle konuştuk. Bu sorunlar arasında siyasal çoğulculuk, ifade özgürlüğüne saygı ve siyasi faaliyet özgürlüğü konuları bulunuyor. Bence PYD ve Demokratik Toplum Hareketi’nin (TEV-DEM) en çok zorlanacakları nokta, bir muhalefet partisinden, bir silahlı direniş grubundan, bütün vatandaşları ve bölgede yaşayan bütün kesimleri temsil edecekleri bir hükümete dönüşmeleri sureci olacaktır. Bu şu anlama geliyor; bütün görüşlere saygı, siyasal faaliyetlere izin verme ve farklı düşünen medya kuruluşlarına izin verme gerekliliği. Yani kurumların özgürlüğü.

Bu noktalarda sıkıntıların olduğunu görüyoruz. Farklı siyasal faaliyetlere karşı bir tahammülsüzlük olduğunu söyleyebilirim. Ama bazı gelişmelerin olduğunu da belirtmek lazım. Biz, öte yandan sadece Cizire bölgesinde de bulunabildik çünkü güvenlikle ilgili sebeplerden ötürü Kobane ve Afrin’e gidemedik. Cizire’de siyasi tutukluluk ile ilgili herhangi bir şikâyet veya rapor yoktu. Bu çok iyi bir şey ve bu bence bu bir ilerleme göstergesidir. Son Erbil Anlaşması’ndan sonra salıvermeler yaşanmış. Ancak Afrin’de bazı tutuklulukların olabileceğine dair duyumlarımız oldu. Öte yandan bazı şeyleri birbirinden ayırmak oldukça zor. Şöyle ki; bir kişinin Suriye Kürdistan Demokratik Partisi (PDKS) ya da Suriye Kürdistan Birlik Partisi (Yekiti) üyesi olması onun siyasi tutuklu olacağı anlamına gelmiyor.

Bölgedeki bazı siyasetçiler ve yetkililerle yaptığımız görüşmelerde “Adli sebeplerden dolayı tutuklanan insanlar hemen olaya siyasi bir boyut kazandırmaya çalışıyorlar” şeklinde iddiaları gündeme getiriliyor. Siz böylesi durumlarla karşılaştınız mı?
Evet haklısınız. Bakın, politik nedenlerden ötürü saldırıya maruz kaldığınızı söyleyip, kamuoyu yaratmak, bunu da siyasi amaçlar için kullanmak çok kolay. Bu yüzden bizler bu tur olayları dikkatlice araştırmalıyız. Yani bir muhalif partiye üye olmanız size yasaları çiğneme hakkı vermez. Burada mesele sizin bir muhalif parti üyesi olmanız değil, yasaların doğru bir şekilde uygulanıp, uygulanmadığı meselesidir.

Örneğin daha iyi anlaşılması için şu örneği vereyim; şimdilerde oradaki yerel makamlar yasaları değiştirmeye çalışıyorlar. “Sosyal Sözleşme” dedikleri ve esasında Suriye yasaları ile diğer bazı ülkelerin yasalarının bir karışımı olan bu anayasa belgesi, gerek yasa uzmanları arasında gerekse avukatlar, hâkimler ve hatta bu yasaların verdiği cezalar sonucunda tutuklananlar arasında ciddi bir kafa karışıklığına yol açmış. Bu büyük bir sorun çünkü eğer yasalar yeterince açık değilse ve net bir biçimde tanımlanmamışsa bu beraberinde kötüye kullanmayı ve keyfiliği getirir. Bence bu büyük bir sorun.

Bizim onlara önerimiz şu oldu; bakın dedik, Suriye yasalarında birçok sorun olduğunu biliyoruz. Uluslararası insan haklarını ihlal eden birçok tarafının olduğunda hemfikiriz. Özellikle Kürtlere karşı ayırımcı bir yapısının olduğunun çok açık olduğunun farkındayız. Ancak siz bu tarz insan haklarına aykırı olan kısımları almak zorunda değilsiniz. Bu kısımları ayıklayabilirsiniz. Çünkü Suriye yasalarının çoğunluğu fena değil. Özellikle normal suçlarla ilgili yasaların hemen hemen %90-95’i iyidir- hırsızlık, hatta cinayet gibi suçları da buna dahil edebiliriz. Bunlar zaten standart yasalar ki yanılmıyorsam Suriye yasaları, Fransız Ceza Yasaları’ndan alınma. Simdi yasal reformlar yapma zamanı değil. Ülke’de savaş hüküm sürüyor, siyasi ortam istikrarsızken, mahkemeler değişiyor, bir de bütün bunların üstüne bir de yeni hukuk sorununu çıkartmak istiyorsunuz. Yasaları ileride değiştirebilirsiniz. Bizce şu an bunun için çok erken.

Peki. Yetkililerin bu söylediklerinize karşı tutumları nasıldı. Önerilerinize açıklar mıydı?
Tepkileri karışıktı, yani hem olumluydu, hem de olumsuz. Bir şekilde önerilerimiz anlaşılır bulundu, ama öte yandan bu projeye katı bir şekilde karşı çıkanlar da oldu. Bu bir ideolojik karşı çıkıştı. Sanırım bu hareketin geleneksel yapısından kaynaklanıyor. Bu daha önce bahsettiğim siyasal bir hareketten, yönetimi elinde tutan bir otoriteye geçiş arasındaki farklılıktan kaynaklanıyor. Yani her ikisinin yapısı farklı. Sanırım insanlar buna hak verecek.

Şunu da belirteyim ki, iki cezaevini ziyaret ettik. Oraların kapılarını bizlere açtıklarından ötürü ve desteklerinden ötürü övgüyü hak ettiklerini düşünüyorum. Genel olarak cezaevlerinin durumu iyiydi. Ama nihayetinde Suriye’deki bir hapishaneden bahsediyoruz. İncelemelerimiz sırasında ciddi bir soruna rastlamadık. Tutuklular iyi muamele gördüklerini söylediler. Kendilerine yeterince yemek verildiğini ve herhangi bir şiddete maruz kalmadıklarını belirttiler. Fakat daha önce tutuklanıp, bırakılan insanlarla görüşmelerimiz sırasında insanların tutuklanırken şiddete maruz kaldıklarını öğrendik. Tabii ki bu yöntem, yani şiddet yöntemiyle suçu itiraf ettirme Suriye’de yaygın bir yöntem ve o bölgeye özgü bir şey değil. Tabii henüz profesyonel bir polis teşkilatının olmamasının bunda etkili olduğunun farkındayım ve onlardan olay yeri inceleme ve forenzik laboratuvarları vb. sahip olmalarını da beklemiyorum.

Ama sonuçta bu yaptıkları illegal. Sorgu sırasında dayak atma “Sosyal Sözleşme”ye, Suriye yasalarına ve de uluslararası standartlara aykırı. Ancak bu tür şeyler oluyor ve biz bu sorunu onlarla konuştuk. Yetkililere direk olarak bu sorunu aktardık ve kendileri de inkâr etmediler zaten. Şu an bir geçiş döneminde olduklarını ve bu tür sorunları aşıp, ortadan kaldıracaklarını söylediler. Tamam, kendilerine hak veriyorum ama bu bir mazeret değil ve biz bu konuda baskı yapıp, düzelmeleri için onları zorlayacağız.

Üzerinde durduğumuz bir diğer mesele de çocuk asker kullanımıydı. Her şeyden önce hem YPG hem de Asayiş (polis) yönetmeliklerinde 18 yaşından küçük çocukların askere alınmaları yasaklıyor.

Bir kaç ay önce Cenevre Konvansiyonu’na imza atmamışlar mıydı?
Hayır. Ancak birkaç şey var. Birincisi, PKK bir yıl önce “Cenevre Çağrısı’”adi verilen kurumla beraber çocuk savaşçı bulundurmayacaklarına dahil açık bir beyanda bulunmuş ve sözleşmeye imza atmıştı. YPG simdi ayni şeyi yapmak için “Cenevre Çağrısı’” ile görüşme halinde. Buna ilaveten, YPG 2013 Aralık ayında bütün üyelerine bir talimat göndererek 18 yaş altı savaşçı alımını yasakladığını bildirdi. Bunların hepsi elbette ki çok olumlu ve memnuniyet verici şeyler. Ancak sorunun halen sürdüğünü de belgelendirdik. Durumun daha iyiye gittiğine inanıyorum ve çocuk savaşçı bulundurmayı sonlandırdıklarını düşünüyorum. Örneğin artık kontrol noktalarında çocuk savaşçılar görmüyorsunuz. Daha önceleri bu kontrol noktalarında 12 yaşında çocuklara bile rastlamak mümkündü. O talimattan sonra bu tür durumların kalmadığını düşünüyoruz ama yine de 16, 17 yaşında çocukların kullanıldığına dair belgeler de mevcut elimizde.

18 yaşından küçük savaşçı bulundurma ile ilgili nasıl bir açıklama getiriyorlar?
Bu çocukların gönüllü olarak katıldıklarını söylüyorlar. Bu çocuklar davalarına katkı sunmak istiyorlar ve eve gitmelerini söylesek de gitmiyorlar diyorlar. Aslında bu söyledikleri doğru. Çocukların birisinin annesi ile konuştuk. Annesi çocuğunu gidip geri getirdiğini, ancak çocuğun tekrar evden kaçıp tekrar katılmış. Çünkü çocuk 17 yaşında olduğunu söylüyormuş ve hareketin pir parçası olmak istiyormuş. Olabilir. Ancak o çocuğun gidip katıldığı grubun komutanı çocuğu kabul etmemeli. 18 altı kimseleri kabul etmemelerine dair emir aldıklarını söylemesi gerekir. Bu çocuklar siyasal çalışmalarda yer alabilirler, medya alanında çalışabilirler, insani projelerde katkı sunabilirler. Ancak 18 yaşının altında herhangi düşmanca bir aktivitenin içinde yer alamazlar. Bu halen bir şekilde problem olmaya devam ediyor. Onların bunu aşabileceğine inanıyoruz çünkü çok iyi organize olmuş bir hareketleri var ve bu sorunu isterlerse kolayca bitirebilirler. Bunu yapmaları gerektiğini düşünüyoruz.

Başka ne tür sorunlar dikkatinizi çekti?
Gözlemlediğimiz iki şey daha vardı. Birincisi terörist grupların, İslamcı grupların saldırıları. Abdülkerim Ömer adlı yerel bir memurun yara almadan kurtulduğu ancak orada bulunan başka birinin hayatını kaybettiği bombalı yüklü araçla bir saldırı vardı. Hayatını kaybeden şahsın ailesi ile tanıştık. Beş çocuk babasıydı ve yanlış zamanda yanlış yerde bulunmuştu. Çok açık ki bu İslamcı gruplar ve terörist gruplar ciddi insan hakları ihlallerinde bulunuyorlar.

İkinci husus ise sınır ihlalleriydi. Yarubiya Sınır Kapısı’nı gördüm. Görünüşe göre geçen hafta Irak ile sınırların açılması konusunda bir anlaşmaya varıldı ki bu çok iyi bir haber . Irak’taki güvenlik meselelerinden ötürü bunun ne kadar hayata geçeceğini tam olarak bilemiyoruz ama göreceğiz. Bu tabi ki olumlu bir durum, ancak insani yardımlar üzerinde nasıl bir etkisinin olacağını göreceğiz. Ve tabi ki, Türkiye ’nin sınırlarını kapalı tuttuğunu biliyoruz. İlginçtir, Türkiye’nin Dirbesiye (Şenyurt) Sınır Kapısı’nı ayda bir açtığını duyduk. Son olarak 5 Şubat’ta bunu yapmışlar ve sınırın öte yakasındaki Kürtler topladıkları yardımları her ay bu kapıdan Rojava’ya gönderiyorlar. Ancak siz de kabul edersiniz ki bu kesinlikle yetersiz.

İnsan Hakları İzleme Örgütü olarak Türkiye Hükümeti’ne sınırı daha sıklıkla açması konusunda bir talebiniz oldu mu?
Tabii ki oldu. Bu işin politik boyutunu anlıyoruz. Ancak sorun şu ki politik tutumlar insanların acı çekmelerine yol açıyor. Sınırlar bu tür insani yardımlar için açılmalı çünkü insanların bu yardımlara ihtiyacı var. İnsanlar açlıktan ölmeseler bile burada çok hayati yiyecek ve ilaç sıkıntısı yaşanıyor. Örneğin, bebek sütü, mama bu ihtiyaçlardan bazıları. Eğer kronik bir hastalığınız, şeker hastalığı mesela, varsa gerçekten başınız dertte demektir. Bu temel ilaçları bulmak çok güç ve Türkiye bunda pay sahibi olmakla suçlanıyor.

Ben geçen Ekim ayında Rojava’daydım ve anlattıklarınıza ben de tanık oldum. Demek ki, oradaki insanlar halen bu sorunları yaşıyorlar?
Evet. Kesinlikle. Ayrıca Fişhabur (Sêmelka) Sınır Kapısı’nda da çok tuhaf bir durum var. Açıkçası Kürdistan Bölgesel Yönetimi’nin (KBY) bu yardımların rahatça geçmesi için daha fazla şey yapabileceğini düşünüyorum. Aynı zamanda bütün bunların çok karmaşık ve kirli politikaların sonucu olduğunu biliyorum. İnsanların bu kadar ihtiyaç duydukları halde gerekli yardımları alamamaları gerçekten utanç verici. Ayrıca, iki yakayı birbirine bağlayan köprünün de zarar verilerek kullanılmaz hale getirildiğini öğrendik. Aslında KRG daha fazla şey yapabilir. Daha fazla yardımın geçişine izin verebilir. Bazı yardımların geçişine izin veriliyor, yani tamamen kapalı değil ancak yetersiz.

KBY’ye de benzeri şekilde daha fazla yardımcı olması noktasında bir çağrınız oldu mu?
Kesinlikle. Bunu zaten söyledik ve ben bazı röportajlarımda da dile getirdim. Bizce Türkiye ve KYB hükümetleri siyaseti bir kenara bırakıp, insanlara yardımcı olmalılar. Sınırları kapatmak var olan durumu daha da kötüleştiriyor.

Bunların dışında insan hakları ile ilgili olması hasebiyle tutukluların hakları ve tutuklama süreci üzerinde yoğunlaşıyoruz. Çok açık olarak gördük ki, tutuklanan kişiler yakalanmaları esnasında avukat edinme şansından mahrum bırakılmışlar. Her zaman hakim karşısına çıkarılmalar da olmamış.

Peki yeterli sayıda avukat var mı?
Bu sorunuzun cevabını bilemiyorum. Ancak şunu kesinlikle söyleyebilirim ki cezaevindeki birçok tutuklunun avukatı olmamış ve buna ödeyecek paraları olmayanlar dahil. Devlet yahut yetkililer bu davalara avukat sağlamalı ancak bu gerçekleşmiyor. Birçok kimse resmi olarak hüküm giymemiş. Onlar bir tür sosyal arabuluculuk sistemi kurmuşlar. Örneğin ben sizi bana ait bir şeyi çalmakla suçlayabilirim ve bu durumda yetkililer aramızda arabulucu olurlar. Bunun sonucunda bir anlaşmaya varabiliriz. Sen çaldığını bana geri verir ve üstüne biraz da para verirsin veya ben seni affedebilirim. Biz bu tür prensiplerin karşısında değiliz. Bu tarz geleneksel ve uzun yıllardır yapıla gelen sorun çözme yöntemlerini memnuniyetle karşılayabiliriz. Ancak bu tür geçici çözümler beraberinde bazı sorunlar da getiriyor. Aile içi şiddet konusunda ne yapabileceksiniz mesela? Bir kadının kocasını şikayet etmesi çok zor ve aile içi arabuluculuk daha da zor. Yani bu yöntem sorunların çözümü noktasında her zaman doğru bir yöntem değil. Bu aynı zamanda bana seni keyfi olarak suçlama sansı verir. Belki seni sevmediğim için haksız yere suçlayabilirim seni! Bu yüzden açık ve anlaşılır olmayan kanunlar karmaşaya ve karışıklığa yol açar ki bence durum biraz da bu.

Genel olarak kadınların durumu nasıldı? Nasıl bir gözleminiz oldu?
Fred Abrahams: Bu soruya verilebilecek en açık cevap tabi ki kadın savaşçılar olgusu ve TEV DEM’in vurgu yaptığı ve uygulamaya çalıştığı cinsel eşitlik projesi. Açıkçası bu çok hoşnut edici ve ferahlatıcı bir konsept ve bölgedeki diğer alanlarda veya devletlerde görülmeyen bir proje. Sanırım bu yansıtıldığı kadar derin bir proje değil. Bir başka deyişle; evet bir kadın ve bir erkekten oluşan eşbaşkanlık sistemi hakim ve kurumlarda kadın kotası yüzde 40 olarak belirlenmiş. Ancak halen karar verici otorite erkek egemen. Ben bir gelişmenin ve ilerlemenin olduğunu inkâr etmiyorum sadece söyledikleri kadar bir kadın erkek eşitliğinin sağlandığını düşünmüyorum.

Genel anlamda kadın hakları meselesine gelince; korkarım bu konuyu irdeleyecek kadar zamanımız olmadı orda. Yani aile içi şiddet, ya da cinsel şiddet gibi konulara eğilecek kadar uzun kalamadık. Dediğim gibi ziyaretimiz beş günlük bir ziyaretti.

Rojava’daki diğer azınlıkların durumu nasıl peki?
Gerçekten güzel bir soru ve bu da bir sonraki gezimiz için belirlemiş olduğumuz bir konu başlığı. Kısaca belirtmek gerekirse, bizim oradaki diğer azınlıkları veya cemaatleri ziyaret etmeye veya durumlarını irdelemeye yeterli zamanımız olmadı. Ancak bunu kesinlikle yapmayı düşünüyoruz. Öte yandan oradaki oluşum diğer grupları ve partileri de yönetime dahil ederek çoğulculuk anlamında güçlü bir irade ortaya koyuyor ve bu açıkçası çok memnuniyet verici. Ancak, biz yine de PYD’nin hakim bir güç olduğu kanaatindeyiz ancak hepsinin üstünde biz PYD’nin bir silahlı muhalif gerilla grubu olmaktan çıkıp bir sistem oluşturan ve yapısal olarak bir yönetici hükümete dönüşümün önemine vurgu yapıyoruz. Bu yeni sistemde herkesin temsil edilmesinin gereğini belirtiyoruz. Tabii bunun zaman alacağının bilincindeyiz.

Bu bahsettiğiniz geçiş surecinde Rojava’daki yönetime yol gösterecek veya onları eğitebilecek kurumlar var mı? Oradaki yapı böylesi bir şeye açık mı?
Ben bu tarz bir çalışma yapan sadece bir grup biliyorum; Kürt Legal Araştırmalar ve Danışmanlık Merkezi (YASA). Kürt avukatlardan oluşan Avrupa merkezli bir organizasyon ve çeşitli konularda legal eğitimler veriyorlar. Anladığım kadarıyla Rojava’daki bu yapı böylesi bir çalışmaya açık ve kendilerini daha fazla geliştirmeyi istiyorlar. Ancak tekrar vurgulamak gerekirse asıl sorun ve beklenti PYD ve YPG’nin bir rahatlık, tolerans ve işbirliği ortamı sağlayıp diğer düşünce ve partilere çalışma alanı verip vermeyecekleri meselesidir. Tabi ki, biz şiddet içermeyen anlayışlara çalışma ortamı sağlanmasından bahsediyoruz ve yukarıda değindiğim hususlar bizce önem arz eden meselelerdir.

Amude olaylarını da incelediğinizi duydum. Doğru mu bu?
Evet doğru. Biz ayrıca Amude’yi de ziyaret ettik ve halen delilleri inceleme aşamasındayız. Aşırı güç kullanımına dair kaygılarımız mevcut, ancak savaşçılara karşı şiddet kullanılıp kullanılmadığından emin olmak için araştırmalarımızı devam ettirmek zorundayız. Asayiş yetkilileri bir savaşçılarının hayatını kaybettiğini söylüyorlar. Diğer tarafın iddiası ise bu kişinin protestolar sırasında değil, Haseke’deki çatışmada hayatını kaybettiğiydi. Sonuçta bunlar sadece iddialar ve bizler araştırmalarımız neticesinde bir sonuca varabileceğiz. Ancak sunu söyleyeyim ki bunun takipçisiyiz ve bu konudaki görüşümüzü bildireceğiz.

Ziyaretiniz Rojava’da demokratik özerklik ilan edilen bir döneme denk geldi. Bu konuda ne söylemek istersiniz?
PYD’nin bu yönetimde güçlü bir rol oynadığını düşünüyorum. Sanırım bunu kimse inkar edemez ve onların bunu inkar edeceğini düşünmüyorum. Yine ana temamıza dönecek olursak bu yapı gerçekten bir yönetime mi dönüşüyor yoksa bir hükümranlık aygıtı mı oluyor? Bu ikisi ayrı şeyler. PYD kuskusuz alandaki en güçlü yapı ve hükümet oluşumunda en güçlü etkiye sahipler.

Son olarak Esad güçlerinin Kamişlo ve çevresindeki yerleşim birimlerindeki varlığı ile ilgili durum nedir? Kamişlo’da bazı giriş ve çıkışların kontrol edildiğini biliyorum. Esad güçlerinin Kürt şehirlerindeki durumunu nasıl gördünüz?
Esad güçleri esas olarak Kamislo’da üç yerde bulunuyor. Birincisi ‘Güvenlik Meydanı’ adı verilen merkez mahallede. Sanırım bu bazı Arap mahallelerini de kapsıyor. İkincisi, Türkiye ile olan sınır kapısı, üçüncüsü de havaalanında. Bir kaç hafta önce Birleşmiş Milletler Dünya Yiyecek Programı bu havaalanı üzerinden insani yardım malzemeleri göndermişti. Yerel yetkililerin bize anlattığına göre, bir gram tahıl ya da pirincin bile Kurt bölgelerine ulaşmamış! Bu yardımlar büyük bir ihtimalle hükümetin denetimindeki bölgelere dağıtıldılar çünkü Kürt Bölgeleri’ne ulaştırılmadığı kesin. Öte yandan Esad güçleri ile Asayiş arasında bir çatışmasızlık anlaşması söz konusu. Sokakta birbirleriyle karşılaşıyorlar ancak iki taraf da çatışmadan kaçınıyor. Her iki kesimde de karşılıklı bir tolerans var ve birbirlerinin varlığına göz yumma konusunda anlaşmış gibiler.

Böyle bir anlaşmanın nedeni ne sizce?
Bana göre su anda birbirleriyle çatışmaları her iki tarafın da çıkarına değil. Böyle bir çatışma ancak iki tarafın ortak düşmanlarının işine yarar. İsim vermek gerekirse İslamcı güçlerin işine yarar. Bu yüzden karşılıklı bir çatışmasızlık anlayışı ve tolerans hakim. Ancak bunun böyle ne kadar devam edeceğini kestirmek güç. Sanırım ortak düşmanları var oldukça ya da siyasi dinamikler değişmedikçe bu durum böyle devam edecek ancak ondan sonra ne olur kestirmek zor. Bu bir soru işareti olarak duruyor.

Biliyorum son soru demiştim ama kısaca İslamcı Cihatçılarından da bahsedebilir misiniz? Onların da karıştığı insan hakları ihlalleri veya savaş suçları tespit ettiniz mi?
Evet. Hem de ilk sırada bu gruplar geliyor. Çünkü onlar ayrımsız bir şiddet uyguluyorlar ve bu çoğu zaman sivillerin ölümüne yol açıyor. Tabii bir de geçmişte sıkça rastlanan sivillerin kaçırılması sorunu vardı ve halen yer yer devam etmekte. Öte yandan ele gecen savaşçılara uygulanan kötü muamele durumu var. Geçenlerde Afrin’de ele geçirilen YPG’li savaşçıların kafalarının kesildiğine dair korkunç haberler gördümi. Bu aşırı bir şiddet ve bir savaş suçu örneği. Savaş esirlerine insanca muamele etmek zorundasınız.

Son olarak Resulayn (Serekaniye) ziyaret edemedik ama orada insanlar hastanelerin yağmalanmasından şikâyet ediyorlar. İslamcı güçler kasabaya hakimken hastanelerdeki medikal gereçleri çalıp götürmüşler. Bu tabi ki ciddi bir ihlal. Orası sivil bir hastaneydi ve insanlar o gereçleri çok güçlükle dışarıdan temin ediyorlardı.

Time for U.S. to Embrace Syria’s Kurds

Mutlu Civiroglu, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mutlu Civiroglu is a Washington, DC based-journalist and Kurdish affairs analyst focusing on Syria and Turkey. You can follow him @mutludc. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

The United States has been searching for an ally in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. But while the exiled opposition coalitions have been dogged by infighting and a lack of real influence inside Syria, and the armed opposition within the country is rife with extremists, Washington has been ignoring a natural and potentially valuable ally: the Kurds.

Kurds administer the most stable, peaceful corner of Syria, and have been open in trying to secure better relations with the West. Yet despite this, there is little to speak of in terms of ties. It is time for Washington to accept that if it wants to eventually see a peaceful, pluralistic Syria, then the Kurds are its best partners moving forward.

Unlike the main opposition coalition, Syrian Kurdish groups are united. Indeed, the two major Kurdish umbrella groups, the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) and the Syrian Kurdish National Council (SKNC), recently announced they had reached agreement on several key issues, including unified Kurdish participation at the Geneva II Conference.

Unfortunately, Washington does not seem interested in Kurdish participation. According to some SKNC leaders, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford pressured Kurds to be part of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) rather than pushing for Kurdish participation in Geneva. “We don’t understand why Ford has such a negative attitude towards Kurdish parties,” SKNC official Ahmed Suleiman reportedly told Voice of America.

But this approach has little chance of success, especially as the SNC has shown little desire to recognize Kurdish demands. In fact, the SNC went as far as to denounce the Kurds’ recent declaration of autonomy: “Its declaration of self-rule amounts to a separatist act shattering any relationship with the Syrian people who are battling to achieve a free, united and independent state, liberated from tyranny and sovereign over all its territory,” the group said.

This failure to recognize Kurdish demands is at the root of much of the Kurdish suspicion of the Arab opposition. True, rather than take on a military equipped with sophisticated weapons and advanced air strike capabilities, Kurds have been trying to protect their homes and build self-government from the bottom up. But just because Kurds don’t want to fight the al-Assad regime on somebody else’s behalf doesn’t mean they are regime collaborators.

The picture is further complicated by the fact that Washington ally Turkey strongly rejects any status for Kurds, and has looked to prevent Kurdish participation in Geneva. These diverging interests between Washington and Ankara surely underscore that it is time for the international community to develop a Kurdish policy of its own.

The reality is that the armed Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) deserves recognition for fighting extremist groups. The YPG claims to have killed almost 3,000 fighters from fundamentalist groups such as al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, efforts that have also included notable roles for female fighters.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdistan is the safest and most stable corner of Syria, and has been a safe haven for those fleeing violence. The Kurdish focus on defending territory from both government brutality and extremist attacks, rather than taking a front and center role in the conflict, has meant that Arab, Assyrian and Chechen neighbors have been able to live relatively peacefully together in Kurdistan.

Against this backdrop, Kurds last month announced an interim administration to fill the vacuum that followed the regime’s 2012 withdrawal from Kurdistan. The administration aims to provide social, economic, educational and health services even as the people of Syrian Kurdistan live under tough conditions imposed by al Qaeda affiliates. There is, for example, a shortage of basics including bread, milk, baby food and medical equipment. A lack of electricity and fuel is making life difficult for locals during the winter, and providing assistance would be a good step for Western capitals to take if they want to boost ties with a population that could provide valuable support for their goals.

The U.S. and its allies would find it in their own interests to stop ignoring the Kurds and instead welcome their participation in Geneva – a conference that ignores Syria’s largest ethnic minority, after all, will not produce any viable solutions.

Kurds across the world have demonstrated their solidarity with Syrian Kurdistan. It is time that Washington joined them.

Time for U.S. to embrace Syria’s Kurds

Are Syrian Kurds Being Left Out in Geneva 2

 Are Syrian Kurds Being Left Out in Geneva 2?

Yesterday, Syrian Kurds said they would form an autonomous provincial government in Rojava, the Kurdish-language term for one of three majority-Kurdish regions in northeast Syria. The self-proclaimed government is complete with its own president and ministers. 

The move comes two months after the country’s Kurds declared self-rule. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said elections for the new municipal council would be held this spring.

The announcement comes as Kurds are left without representation at this week’s Montreux peace talks, a U.N.-backed gathering of Syrian opposition groups, government representatives and international powers.

“Kurds have been struggling for decades. Hundreds of activists were tortured by the regime,” says Mutlu Civiroglu, a Washington-based journalist and Kurdish affairs analyst focusing on Syria and Turkey. “Ignoring the Kurds has a symbolic meaning that the future of Syria will not be any different for Kurds.”

We asked Civiroglu, Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East Analyst for the Jamestown Foundation specializing in Kurdish politics and Dilshad Othman, a Syrian specialist in information security and a U.S State Department Internet Freedom fellow to weigh in on the consequences of Kurds being left out of this week’s negotiations.

Syria Deeply: What do Syrian Kurds want from the Geneva peace talks?

Wladimir van Wilgenburg: The main Kurdish parties want some kind of recognition of a Kurdish status in Syria. They want to have recognition for a form of self-rule over their own areas, such as autonomy, federalism or democratic autonomy. This is quite similar to what the Kurds in Iraq have. But the West wants the Syrian Kurds to be part of the Syrian opposition, or excluded from Geneva II. As a result, the Kurdish National Council, one of the main Kurdish power blocs, joined the Syrian Coalition due to Western pressure.

Now the PYD fears that their demands are not recognized and that it could turn out to be a second Lausanne that led to the creation of Turkey and the division of the Kurdish areas in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, without granting them any form of Kurdish autonomy or independence, as promised by the earlier treaty of Sevres.

Mutlu Civiroglu: Two major Kurdish umbrella groups, the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) and the Syrian Kurdish National Council (SKNC), recently announced they had reached agreement on several key issues, including unified Kurdish participation at the Geneva II Conference. This joint delegation wasn’t recognized at Geneva. Kurdish activists now feel that their demands are ignored, and their voices are silenced.

Kurds want to participate in Geneva II as Kurds, the biggest ethnic minority in the country and one of the groups that has been fighting the regime’s repression for decades. Hundreds of activists were tortured by the regime. Ignoring the Kurds has a symbolic meaning, which is that the future of Syria will not be any different for Kurds.

Dishad Othman: Most Kurds want the right to independent political decisions. They want to play a strong part in any decision-making process.

Kurds are trying to bring their case to any table, even Geneva II. Kurds were also targeted in military attacks. Of course they want a role in the decision-making process. They want to know how they will be represented in the “new Syria.”

SD: Why are Kurdish interests being negated at the talks?

WW: It’s not seen as an important issue, and the U.S. thinks that the Kurds should negotiate Kurdish rights with the Syrian opposition, rather than imposing unilateral decisions on the ground and declaring autonomy.

Moreover, the United States wants to exclude PYD from the negotiations since the U.S. is closely allied to Turkey, which opposes PYD, and also since it considers PYD to be close to the Syrian regime and the United States also claims that it wants to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria. In Iraq, the United States prefers Baghdad over the Kurds, and in Syria, the U.S. also prefers the Syrian state over the Kurds (in this case, the Syrian opposition, or Assad).

The Kurds feel excluded and suggest that neither the Syrian opposition nor the Syrian government recognize any form of Kurdish autonomy, although Assad is flirting with the Kurds by allowing them the rights of education and giving them back Syrian citizenship. The Kurds want to have an independent delegation to push for Kurdish rights, instead of just discussing the future of Assad and a new government.

SD: What will be the consequences if Kurdish interests are ignored at the negotiating table?

WW: I doubt that the Geneva conference will lead to any solution since the main armed groups are not involved in the discussions, such as the Kurdish YPG militia, the Islamic front that is the biggest armed opposition group on the ground, or the FSA. Off course, al-Qaida-affiliated/inspired groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS are not invited, but they are also a significant power on the ground, and need to be dealt with somehow.

The Kurds want to have a say at the table, so if they do not have their own delegation, then Kurdish rights will most likely not be discussed, and the Kurdish “democratic autonomy” that was declared by PYD would not be recognized by the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition or the international community. Earlier, the Russians were willing to have the Supreme Kurdish Council to participate in Geneva II, but the Americans blocked it.

DO: The announcement of a autonomous administration in the northern part of Syria ahead of the Geneva talks is a direct reaction to Kurds not being invited to Geneva. They are sending a clear message that they are going to try and manage the area of northern Syria by themselves.

Kurds are waiting for a guarantee that their rights will be recognized on a political level. They are afraid of the new ideology and identity of the Syrian opposition. They are scared of the complexity of the battleground.

There is a lot to talk about at Geneva, especially in terms of the economy.  It used to be one of the strongest, but is now one of the poorest. There is a genuine fear that if the Kurds are not at the table, they will lose their rights and will be going on a path away from a united Syria.

MC: The core organizers of Geneva II rushed the conference and wanted to show the diplomatic community that international efforts were under way,  but unfortunately many groups are not represented at Geneva and by the Syrian National Coalition.

There will be one or two people at Geneva on behalf of the Syrian National Kurdish Council, but just like the Syrian National Council, they lack power on the ground among Kurds. Many colleagues I talk to said that this conference is born to be dead. This is a sad reality after three years.

Kurds are one of the largest minorities in Syria, and have a large presence in the Middle East. If there isn’t a solution to the Kurdish question, there won’t be stability in Iraq, Turkey and Syria. In Syria, Kurds have been the most organized militarily, socially, politically and economically. If you exclude the regime’s military power, the Kurds have the strongest army.

SD: If Kurds aren’t included in the decision-making process, how will they implement any agreements on the ground?

MC: I spoke to PYD’s leader and a member of SKNYC, and they both said they didn’t have a say in who represented them at Geneva, and that as a result they would not recognize the decisions made at Geneva. This is the risk that Geneva conference bears.

By excluding Kurds from Geneva, the international community is sending the message that Kurdistan is different from Syria, and that there isn’t a pluralistic Syria. This bolsters the feeling that Kurds are not a part of Syria’s future, and only further pushes them in a separate direction from Syria.

SD: How unified are the Kurdish political parties, and how does this translate on the ground?

MC: There is a consensus among Kurds that they have been highly successful in fighting extremist groups. The armed Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) has been actively fighting radical groups like al-Nusra and ISIS. These efforts have largely been ignored by the international community.

It’s correct that you can’t see YPG as the military power that represents everyone, but there is an increasing consensus in the region that YPG is the defender of the Rojava region, and a general respect for their achievements in fighting extremism and keeping the region intact.

DO: Politically, Kurds are managing the area of northern Syria by themselves. Kurds don’t have a militia, except the PYD – the largest Kurdish militia, which isn’t in good shape with the Syrian opposition. There are a lot of small groups in the FSA. There are Kurds, but they don’t follow the Kurdish political routes – they get their funds from the Syrian opposition. Most Kurds are in Kobani and Afrin, controlled by PYD.

Sidelined Syrian Kurds Take Geneva II Protest to Twitter

A hashtag calling for a Kurdish delegation at next week’s peace talks became the top trend on Twitter on Thursday and early Friday.

UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – Activists frustrated with the marginalization of Syrian Kurdish delegates at the upcoming Geneva II peace talks took to Twitter this week, briefly making “#KurdsMustBeInGeneva2″ the number one trending topic worldwide on the social network.

A screenshot captured Friday afternoon in New York shows the hashtag as the second most popular worldwide

In recent months, Syrian Kurds have engaged in fierce battles with both Assad forces and, increasingly, extremist opposition groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in an effort to retain control over their ethnic homeland.

But instead of being invited to the Geneva II conference, Syria’s Kurds were asked to fold their delegation into the single opposition group that was designed to feature the Istanbul-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

That decision threatens the viability of any political solution to the three-year civil war, Kurdish policy analyst Mutlu Civiroglu told TRNS by telephone

“In the future, if there is going to be an agreement, how will they implement this agreement in the Kurdistan region of Syria? If Kurds are not there, Geneva is not an agreement.”

Civiroglu described Syrian Kurdistan’s diverse government as a model of compromise for the war-torn country, a vision not articulated by the Assad government, the politically isolated SNC, or the wide array of Islamic militants flooding the battlefield.

The model in Western Kurdistan is “a great example of a future Syria,” Civiroglu said. “The administration is not only composed of Kurds, but Arabs, Armenians and religious minorities.”

While 2013 saw a sharp increase in attacks against religious minorities, including Syria’s Christian population, Civiroglu stressed that Syrian Kurdistan was not characterized by such violence.

In the rest of Syria, “people are beheaded, churches are demolished,” he said. “Not in Syrian Kurdistan.”

With the National Coordination Body (NCB)’s decision on Thursday to skip Geneva II, the very presence of any meaningful opposition groups at the peace conference appears to hinge on the SNC’s decision.

But regardless of the SNC’s final vote on attending Geneva II, the group remains plagued by internal disagreement, drawing into question its political influence and relevance to combatants.

“Meanwhile, the real power on the ground is not recognized.” Civiroglu said.

Asked who started the #KurdsMustBeInGeneva2 hashtag and helped it become the top trend among the social network’s roughly 250 million active users, Civiroglu denied knowing the movement’s creator, saying it was “just the Kurds.”