Dr Mustafa Muslim, the brother of Salih Muslim, the co-head of the Syrian Kurdish PYD, has said that the PYD represents only 10 percent of the Kurds in Syria and the reason for its strength is the fact that it has weapons.
Speaking to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, Mustafa Muslim said the PYD was detaining all those opposed to it and does not want to see different ideologies to it arising among Syrian Kurds.
Himself an exile from the Kurdish regions of northern Syria, also known as Rojava, the 60-year-old theology professor who works in Zehra University in the southeastern Turkish province of Gaziantep was one of the critics silenced by his own brother.
Referring to the Kurds who fled the ISIS assault on the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobane into Turkey last year, Mustafa Muslim praised Turkey for offering help to all Syrians affected by the war without differentiating between ethnic and sectarian groups, saying, “If the Turks had not opened their homes, the Kurds would have died from cold and hunger.”
“The approach of the Turkish government and people to the people of Kobane was very honourable,” he said. “History will record it like this.”
According to Anadolu Agency, 180,000 Syrian Kurds have stayed in Turkey as refugees ever since the ISIS militant group launched its attacks on Kobane in September 2014. ISIS eventually retreated from the town after US-led coalition air strikes and Kurdish peshmerga ground troops from northern Iraq entering the town through Turkey helped the PYD take control.
Turkey deems the PYD and its armed wing the YPG to be an extension of the PKK terrorist group which has been targeting Turkish security forces and civilians mainly in southeastern Turkey for around three decades.
However, Mustafa Muslim pointed out that the PYD had recently began utilising international media to its advantage, adding that despite the fact that there are 15 political parties in northern Syria, the PYD is deemed to represent the Kurds in the international arena.
Mustafa Muslim also claimed the establishment of a Kurdish state in the region is still “distant.”
“The establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria at the moment looks distant. At present there is no structure to establish a Kurdish state. They can only form cantons with local authorities,” he said.
“The real structure in northern Syria belongs to the PKK terrorist organisation. The PYD and the YPG are the PKK’s branches. The PKK established the PYD and the YPG is the PYD’s armed wing,” he added.
Although the PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, the EU and NATO, PYD leader Salih Muslim earlier this week claimed the US had provided the group with weapons, a claim the US had denied.
The US is yet to deny, however, reports that it is providing supplies to a new coalition force in northern Syria called the Syrian Democratic Army, which mainly comprises of PYD fighters supported by some local Arab forces.
Turkey has warned the PYD against handing weapons over to the PKK in Turkey, saying that it too will be hit by Turkish air strikes if this is found to be the case.
In the interview with Anadolu Agency, Mustafa Muslim further stated that the PYD is secretly selling oil from the city of Hasakah to Bashar al Assad’s regime, from which the PYD has made one million dollars in profit.
He also criticised his brother Salih, recalling that his family had sent him to Istanbul to get an education but instead he met with “different” people.
“When we discovered this, we found him a job in Saudi Arabia, where he worked for 10 years till he resigned and returned to Syria,” he said, adding that in Syria his brother began to work with left-wing nationalists.
“Those who once made secret agreements with each other are fighting one another today.”
Around half of Syria’s population has been displaced either internally or externally as a result of the four-and-a-half-year-long war in the country, which has left an estimated 250,000 people dead.
Turkey currently hosts approximately 2.2 million Syrian refugees, many of whom have fled fighting along the border regions.