Kurds split from Syrian opposition council —protesting Turkish pressure

The Kurdish opposition bloc on April 6 walked out of the Syrian National Council at a meeting in Istanbul, after world leaders at the "Friends of Syria" summit urged the factions to unify. Syrian Kurdish opposition leader Abdul-Baki Yousef, a leader of the Kurdish Yakiti party, charged host country Turkey of "pressuring the SNC" to omit the demands of the Kurdish members in the final document outlining a transition plan for Syria. At the summit, Hillary Clinton pledged another $12 million in "humanitarian aid" to the Syrian opposition, although assembled leaders resisted calls from the SNC to arm the rebels. (Daily Star, Lebanon, April 6; McClatchy Newspapers, April 2)

The split comes as pressure is mounting on Turkey's own Kurds. A Turkish court on April 3 agreed to try 193 people accused of having links with the Union of Kurdistan Communities (KCK), which is allegedly the urban wing of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). (Reuters, April 3) A Turkish soldier was killed and another was injured April 4 in clashes with PKK rebels in Hakkari province. The government claims 21 rebels were killed in clashes over the past month. (Daily Star, April 4)

Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Batman saw street clashes on March 18, when, tens of thousands of Kurds massed to celebrate the Kurdish new year Nowruz—in defiance of a government ban. Riot police backed by helicopters and armored personnel-carriers fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. One Kurdish leader and a Turkish police officer died, and hundreds of Kurds were arrested. After the street clashes, PKK commander Murat Karayilan issued a call for civil resistance: "From here on we must stop serving in the Turkish army, paying taxes and using the Turkish language. A new phase has begun." (The Economist, March 24)

See our last posts on the Arab revolutions and the Kurdish struggle.

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