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PYD Head: We Are Not Separatists

Saleh Muslim says calls for autonomous administration are temporary
PYD Head: We Are Not Separatists

More than six months have passed since the first interview with Saleh Muslim, president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and in that time his statements have not changed.


"We will not negotiate with the Nusra Front. We are not separatists. The Assad Army will not fall."


Among rapidly changing ground developments, the PYD is getting stronger, with its armed wing, the Popular Protection Units (YPG) now in control of Rasein in the north east of Syria, in the Hassakeh province. But the most pronounced change has been a call for an autonomous state with a local interim administration, which has raised renewed concerns about separatism, a long-held accusation against the Kurds.


Muslim, however, insisted that the move was a temporary phase "until things settle down in Syria."


In the last interview with Zaman al-Wasl, Muslim said that his units fought Assad in Aleppo, despite accusations of joint cooperation in fighting the rebel insurgents.


"Extremists are controlling the Free Syria Army; their practices have brought the fanatics to Aleppo. For that reason, we will not enter into any negotiations with the Nusra Front," Muslim said.


"Our weapons are for self-defense," the PYD leader added.


Regarding Hezbollah's intervention in fighting the rebels in Syria, Muslim said that he was against any foreign intervention and that the PYD would fight Hezbollah if it entered the Kurdish areas. 


On his relationship with the newly elected president of the Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, Muslim said: "Jarba as a person is good, he was raised in Qamishli and studied in its schools. I know that he is very close to the Kurds, and I was among the first of the well-wishers to welcome him to his presidency."


"I met him more than once, and enjoy his affable manners and patriotism. The problem is not with Jarba, but with who wants to control him, especially the Muslim Brotherhood," Muslim said.


"Jarba is not the real ruler of the Coalition."


The YPG is the dominant Kurdish armed group, which took over large sections of northern Syria in August last year. It is not-so-secretly loyal to the Turkish-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has now forcibly co-opted most other Kurdish groups in Syria.


The YPG has deep misgivings about the mainstream Arab opposition, which it considers to be Islamist and under Turkish influence, and it has steered a middle way between the regime and the rebels.


True to the PKK’s Marxist tradition, the YPG makes a point of training female fighters. The YPG does not seek independence for Syria’s Kurds, but does argue for a form of self-governance within Syria.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer


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