The Democratic Union Party (PYD) Co-leadership Council member Aldar Xelîl responded to questions from ANF regarding the detention in Erbil (Hewlêr) in South/Iraqi Kurdistan of Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and PYD representatives and the reported presence of Turkish National Intelligence (MIT) representatives at their interrogation. He also answered questions about the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP’s) violations of border-crossings at the Simalka (Sêmalka) border point and the aims of Turkey’s ongoing military operations in the Zap, Metina and Avashin regions of Iraqi Kurdistan.
As Turkey’s attacks of occupation continue, why did the KDP feel it necessary to send the media to the defence areas, and how would losing in South Kurdistan affect the Kurds and Rojava?
The purpose of the attacks currently against South Kurdistan is occupation. Erdoğan wants to occupy South Kurdistan. Their plan is to occupy all of South Kurdistan including Rojava, north-east Syria before the end of 2023. The only reason this has not happened yet is because of the resistance. If we had not resisted, Erdoğan would have reached Mosul and Kirkuk by now.
One of the reasons that South Kurdistan has been protected so far is the resistance in Rojava, another is the resistance of the guerrillas in the mountains of Kurdistan. The resistance now in Avaşîn, Zap and Metîna is also the resistance to protect the achievements of South Kurdistan.
South Kurdistan struggled for years to liberate itself from Saddam’s regime. It sees that Erdoğan’s regime is coming for it, that this is still more dangerous and that it will annihilate the Kurds. However, the attitudes of the forces of South Kurdistan and of the government, who ought to stand against this, differ from each other. In particular, the KDP currently supports these attacks. When the Turkish state attacks, it does not raise its voice and complain to the United Nations, to Baghdad, to the Arab states, to international institutions and say, ‘Why is the Turkish state coming to our mountains? Why is it bombing our villages?’ Theirs is not an attitude worthy of Kurdistan. The national attitude of Kurdistan is to stand up for its people, its country and its soil.
Erdoğan, the President of the Turkish Republic, conducts military interventions in various regions, always with the excuse of ‘national security.’ All well and good, but does not the occupation of South Kurdistan and Rojava create a national security problem for the Kurds?
Why did Erdoğan go to Libya? Erdoğan says, ‘In my opinion, if the changes in Libya did not happen, it would be damaging for Turkey’s security,’ and for this reason, he goes and intervenes. He goes there and gets right inside. In Somalia … He even went to Sudan before the Sudan regime changed. He does the same thing everywhere. He says, ‘I am protecting my security’.
If we think of Rojava being North-East Syria, is our national security damaged when Erdoğan attacks the guerrillas in the mountains of Kurdistan? It is also a part of Kurdistan. So, our security is damaged. Basically, if Erdoğan gains in Europe, it is not good for us. If he gains in Africa, it is not good for us. If he gains in America, it is not good for us. It will damage us.
Erdoğan has occupied Afrin (Efrîn). He has occupied Ras al-Ayn (Serêkaniyê), Tell Abyad (Girê Spî), Jarabulus, (Cerablus), al-Bab (Bab) and Azaz (Ezaz). Erdoğan is threatening us.
First: He comes to South Kurdistan and attacks the guerrillas. Second: He evacuates the villages in South Kurdistan. Third: He shoots civilians. Fourth: He establishes military bases. Fifth: He expands these bases. South Kurdistan is, in any case, not a large area. What is the meaning of establishing 30 bases? It means that he is occupying South Kurdistan. There will be no government left in South Kurdistan tomorrow. If the South falls, is this in the interests of Rojava? We do not want the South to fall and be broken. We do not want it to be occupied by the Turkish state. We do not want the South to be occupied any more than we want Afrin to be occupied. If they are occupied Rojava will be overwhelmed.
On 10 June, KDP forces detained AANES and PYD representatives in Erbil, and they have not been heard from since. Why is the KDP organising special receptions for the enemies of Kurds and detaining Rojava’s representatives?
The Autonomous Administration (AANES) and PYD representatives were detained in Erbil. They were detained two weeks ago. Why were they detained? They represent the Kurds and the people there. They have not done anything bad, anything wrong, they have not committed any offence. They have not interfered in anything. They have not meddled with any internal affairs.
Rojava’s representatives are in custody and we do not know what has happened to them. In fact, according to information I have received (I’m not 100% certain), Turkish intelligence officers came and interrogated our colleagues. This is a dangerous situation. We do not know where our colleagues are now. We do not know what kind of interrogation they are under, what they are being asked.
What is happening at the Simalka border point, what practices have the KDP introduced there?
We are also experiencing great difficulties at Simalka. The questions prepared for people going to and fro are intelligence related questions. They are humiliating questions. People are shocked when, crossing a border, they are asked questions like, ‘How many people are there in your family? What are you thinking? What do you eat? Who are your relatives and tribe? What party are you involved with and what are your duties to them? When do you hold meetings? Who is your supervisor? What neighbourhood do you live in? What is the name of your [political] commune? Where is your assembly?’
They are using these questions to pressurise our people. The people do not accept this and are unsettled. The issue of Simalka is a serious problem. All the forces of Kurdistan should stand against this. The PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) is also there, and what the PUK are doing there, I don’t know. The PUK is also a partner in this government. The duties of the PUK are not just to make political speeches in Rojava and develop relations with the Rojava parties. It should have a role within the government. Why are the governments taking our people, why are they treating us like this at the border point?
Women going to and fro are searched in a way that is not done anywhere else. There is always respect for women. There is sensitivity in the searching of women everywhere. An attitude of unity and solidarity displays opposition to these violations. Anyone can create good sentences and pull them together in speeches, addresses and leaflets. The most important thing is the practical attitude.
The Simalka problem, the representatives detained in Erbil and the KDP’s support for the Turkish attacks on the guerrillas are all making us uneasy. We cannot normally see. We, the people of Rojava, Northeast Syria, are forced to see this reality and danger.