Salih Gado, member of the politburo of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria:
»Some Kurdish parties are coming up with lots of excuses to avoid joining the Syrian National Council. The truth is they are still afraid of the regime«
KURDWATCH, April 18, 2012—Salih Gado (b. 1946, married, six children), is a member of the politburo of the Kurdish Left Party in Syria and lives in al‑Qamishli. In a conversation with KurdWatch, he comments on the current situation in the Kurdish regions and, in particular, on the Kurdish Patriotic Conference's relationship to the Syrian National Council.
KurdWatch: What does the situation in the Kurdish regions currently look like?
Salih Gado: Very tense. Demonstrations are taking place in the Kurdish cities almost daily. Thousands of young people are taking to the streets; almost all Kurdish cities are sites of protest. Activists are being arrested again and again; sometimes demonstrators are fired upon and people are hurt. At the same time, the situation in Syrian-Kurdistan cannot be compared to the situation in cities like Darʿa or Homs.
KurdWatch: Many believed that hundreds of thousands of people would take to the streets in the Kurdish regions once the Kurdish parties mobilized to that end. Currently, almost all of the Kurdish parties are calling for demonstrations. But at most only a few tens of thousands are taking to the streets. Do the Kurdish parties have far less support among the people than has been assumed or are they not seriously mobilizing?
Salih Gado: In most of the Kurdish regions there are demonstrations at least four or five times a week. Nevertheless, it is true that hundreds of thousands of people are not taking part in the demonstrations. To this day, not all of the parties are actively participating in the demonstrations. Several of them argue that they want to avoid spilling blood in the Kurdish regions.
KurdWatch: Which of the parties aren’t participating in the demonstrations?
Salih Gado: There are two or three parties, but I don’t want to give names. Almost everyone knows these parties.
KurdWatch: Many observers are of the opinion that the parties of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference and the coordinating committees are losing more and more support among the people, while the PYD is becoming stronger every day. Is this true?
Salih Gado: I think that among the Kurds in Syria, the Kurdish Patriotic Conference has the most supporters and proponents. The PYD has supporters; it is very active in regards to social issues and has formed numerous citizens committees and work groups. But the most influential political group is the Kurdish Patriotic Conference.
KurdWatch: Several youth groups have left the Kurdish Patriotic Conference, with the explanation that it is hardly active and is ceding the political field to the PYD. Is this criticism justified?
Salih Gado: There are problems within the citizens’ committees and in carrying out activities. The Kurdish Patriotic Conference is comprised of fifteen parties, several coordinating groups, and hundreds of independent people. Thus it isn’t always easy to make decisions. But we have formed citizens’ committees everywhere. In several places, however, they are just starting to become active.
KurdWatch: The Kurdish Patriotic Conference has existed since the end of October 2011. Isn’t it a bit too late if the committees are just now becoming active? Critics say that the PYD established numerous active citizens’ committees within two months.
Salih Gado: Without a doubt there are shortfalls in the work of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference. The parties themselves are primarily responsible for this. Thus far we Kurds have not learned how to work together in coalitions. At the same time, our initial position is far different from that of the PYD. The PYD is alone; it gives its members orders, and they obey these orders. That is a clear difference between us and the PYD.
KurdWatch: Recently there have been repeated kidnappings and killings of activists in the Kurdish regions. Many hold the PYD responsible. Thus far, the Kurdish Patriotic Conference has not taken a clear stance on this. Why is that?
Salih Gado: Regardless of who is carrying out the murders, in our opinion, the regime is ultimately responsible. The regime has a hand in it.
KurdWatch: Doesn’t this stance make things a little too easy for the Kurdish Patriotic Conference? Isn’t the Conference primarily afraid of a confrontation with the PYD?
Salih Gado: We are still discussing this. We Kurds must communicate with one another. Only the regime will profit from an inter-Kurdish conflict.
KurdWatch: There has recently been a lot of discussion about whether or not the Kurdish Patriotic Conference should join the Syrian National Council. There are allegedly disagreements within the parties on this question.
Salih Gado: We are currently discussing the Syrian National Council’s most recent declaration on the Kurds. Many of our demands were accepted. Next week the Kurdish Patriotic Conference is holding its general assembly. We will discuss the topic and reach a decision there.
KurdWatch: There are rumors that the question of whether or not to join could lead to a split within the Kurdish Patriotic Conference. Some parties want to join; others do not—ostensibly out of deference to the regime or to Iran.
Salih Gado: There are Kurdish parties that aren’t ready to make far-reaching demands, because they believe the regime will punish them for it. They say that they want to remain modest so that they won’t be harmed. Some Kurdish parties are coming up with lots of excuses to avoid joining the Syrian National Council. The truth is they are still afraid of the regime. We hope, however, that this question will not lead to a split.
KurdWatch: Is the Left Party also included among the cautious parties?
Salih Gado: Yes, some of us are also thinking defensively, but I don’t belong to this group.
KurdWatch: The Left Party has recently split. Why?
Salih Gado: There were ideological and organizational differences. Our former party secretary, Muhammad Musa, had rallied some party members around him, convened a party congress, and elected a new leadership. But in fact, most members of the Central Committee and even most of the party members did not take part in the session and they do not recognize it as a party congress. This session had no legitimacy.
KurdWatch: Are there now two Kurdish Left parties?
Salih Gado: Yes. One calls itself the Kurdish Left Party in Syria (Congress), and we call ourselves the Kurdish Left Party in Syria (Central Committee).
KurdWatch: A few days ago your party announced its resignation from the Executive Committee of the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change. How is it that you have thus far remained a member of this union? Doesn’t the Kurdish Patriotic Conference’s charter require that all parties that belong to it to step down from other oppositional coalitions?
Salih Gado: They must freeze their membership. We have also only frozen our membership. But I have announced my personal resignation from the National Union for the Forces of Democratic Change due to its stance on the Kurdish question.
KurdWatch: How is it that parties like the Kurdistan Union Party in Syria or ʿAbdurrahman Aludschi’s Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria are members of both the Kurdish Patriotic Conference and the Syrian National Council.
Salih Gado: These parties have only recently joined the Kurdish Patriotic Conference. A solution still has to be found.
April 5, 2012