A delegation of the Kurdish National Council of Syria (ENKS) – an umbrella coalition of Kurdish political parties and movements in Syria which opposes the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and is touted as a “legitimate” Kurdish organization by Turkey – met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Feb. 19 in Ankara.
Following the meeting, ENKS Presidential Council member Nimet Davut told Rudaw: “We have shared the ENKS's views regarding the changes that affect the demographic structure of the region, and we said that we condemn these practices and that we are against this throughout Syria and especially in the Kurdish regions.”
Davut said that the Turkish side similarly expressed that Ankara does not support the demographic change in the region and is against such practices.
Davut said it struck an agreement with the Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces for them not to undertake any action that might lead to demographic change in Sere-Kaniye (Ras al-Ain), Tal-Abyad (Gre-Spi) and Afrin, which are under their control. “Within this framework, we asked Turkey to support our alliance [with the opposition] and ease the difficulties that our people have been going through, because unless Turkey supports it, we believe that the execution [of the agreement] will be difficult,” said Davut.
Various reports had previously suggested that pro-Turkey factions were trying to uproot and drive out the local Kurdish population in these regions in an attempt to change the demographics of the area. Various media outlets reported that Turkey-local factions were looting the Kurdish citizens' property and kidnapping them for ransom in these areas.
The ENKS finds Turkey's support “crucial” due its role in Syria as well as its “impact on the opposition forces,” said Davut. “Within this framework, we stated that it is imperative that our people return to their villages and homes,” he said.
Political unity in Rojava 'is a need,' says Davut
Davut also touched upon recent efforts toward a Kurdish political cooperation in northeastern Syria. He said that there was an incentive from the international arena for a “unity” to be established between rival Kurdish factions in Rojava and the ENKS was in support of talks promoting such a political unity.
Throughout the years of the Syrian Civil War, the Kurdish movement in northeastern Syria (Rojava) suffered from acute division along the lines of two main sides: the Autonomous Administration (NES), which is backed by the PYD, and the ENKS, which is supported by the ruling government of Iraqi Kurdistan.
About a potential political unity in Rojava, Davut said: “Our people has such a demand from us. This is a need. But, it should be known that the alliance between Kurds will not be against anyone, neither the opposition nor neighboring countries. It will be in the service of our people, Syrian rights and peace.”
The NES recently approved a decision enabling the ENKS to open offices in the region on the basis of efforts for Kurdish national unity. And in February, parties under the ENKS umbrella opened offices in Heseke and Kobane.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu shared a Twitter post regarding the meeting on Feb. 19, saying that he had met with the “legitimate representative” of the Kurds in Syria.
“We have met with a delegation of the Kurdish National Council in Syria, the legitimate representative of the Kurds in Syria. We expressed our support for their role in the political process and highlighted that the PKK/YPG do the greatest harm to the Kurds,” Çavuşoğlu wrote.
Met w/delegation of Kurdish National Council of #Syria, legitimate representative of Syrian Kurdish people.Supporting their role w/in Syrian National Coalition&political process. Emphasized that biggest damage to Kurdish people comes from PKK/YPG terrorist organization. pic.twitter.com/PWNndbPGn3— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) February 19, 2020
Turkey considers the PYD and its military wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), as terrorist organizations due to their links with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).