In an article entitled “Ruminating on the Baath experience in West Kurdistan” in Erbil-based Rudaw, Hussein Omer compares the rule of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria to the Baath party, saying it’s a dictatorship that does not tolerate dissent.
Ethnic Kurds predominate in parts of northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey and parts of Iran. Western Kurdistan refers to this part of Syria where the PYD and its military wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG) rule with a considerable degree of autonomy from both the regime and rebel groups.
In its fight for autonomy in northeast Syria, the YPG has been praised as one of the most successful armed groups fighting Daesh (ISIS), but has also been accused of war crimes. Omer’s piece, however, represents one of the most prominent criticisms of the PYD by a fellow Kurd in a Kurdish publication.
Writing for the Rudaw’s Arabic section, Omer uses extremely harsh language to describe the PYD’s rule. “The PYD...imposes absolute authority over all aspects of life, whether they be political, legislative, administrative, military, security, or communal without any existence of independent institutions,” he wrote.
In support of his claim, he cites conscription of Kurdish youth into the YPG, lack of free political processes, arrests of dissenters and other issues. “(Other) political entities...don’t have a role other than that of a silent witness,” wrote Omer.
Human Rights Watch has claimed of PYD arbitrary arrests, use of child soldiers and other abuses in the past.
And the fact that Omer compared the PYD’s rule to that of the Baath party, of which Bashar al-Assad is-and Saddam Hussein was-a member, notes just how serious he is in his criticism. Both leaders had very rocky relationships with their nations’ Kurdish populations, especially in the case of Saddam and the Halabja massacre in 1988.
While Omer’s criticism is no doubt unique, the PYD has come under fire from other Kurds in the past too, including some in Syria. Earlier this year, the Kurd Rebels Brigades formed to counter the influence of the PYD in Syria, and in an interview with Al Bawaba, one member called the PYD “an enemy of the Kurdish people,” citing their conscription of Kurdish youth in particular.
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