Salih Muslim: ISIS-Turkey relations should be investigated

Democratic Union Party (PYD) Co-President Salih Muslim who spoke to ANF reacted angrily to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s comment that Turkey did not support ISIS, proposing that an independent international commission be set up to carry out an inquiry.

Defence line from Tel Kocher to Afrin

What is the current situation in the cantons of Rojava? Is there still a threat of attack?

There is war and struggle in Rojava. While military defence against attacks is continuing efforts are also being made to establish a system, which is gradually coming into being. All the institutions and people are involved in this system. The defence of this unique system is being undertaken by the people of Rojava from Tel Kocher to Afrin.

We know that before the Kobanê resistance there were circles that were opposed to you and did not accept your system. Has this changed?

Important cities like Mosul and Raqqa did not hold out 24 hours against But a small city like Kobanê has been resisting for 3 months. The whole world has seen this. This is down to organisation. If we had not been organised we couldn’t have resisted. This has undoubtedly changed many people’s minds.

Can people who are not PYD supporters take their place in the system?

The government in Rojava is not PYD or TEV-DEM. It is the people who are resolving their own problems. There is not a classic system of authority, this needs to be understood. The circles you mention have offices and associations in many towns, particularly in Qamişlo. Nobody prevents them carrying out their activities. Everyone is free to carry out their democratic activities. Let everyone struggle for the freedom of Rojava with their own ideas.

Following the halting of ISIS in Kobanê what changes have occurred in the region?

ISIS thought it could capture the whole region, but it was mistaken. Regional states and forces also calculated this would happen. But it hasn’t worked out like that. Even the US was fooled. Until a few months ago they didn’t want to speak to us. However, now they have realised the threat posed worldwide by ISIS.

A commission of inquiry should be set up

Which forces do you think are behind ISIS?

US Deputy President Joe Biden made this abundantly clear. The whole world knows who is behind them.

Recently ISIS launched an attack on Kobanê from Turkey. In the subsequent debate Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said: “No one can say we support ISIS”. How do you evaluate this?

We claim Turkey is supporting ISIS. We suspect this. If Ahmet Davutoğlu is right and is so sure, we propose that an independent international commission be set up to investigate what has gone on.

You are calling for a commission to be established?

Yes, it should come to Turkey, to Rojava and carry out an enquiry in the border areas. Then it will emerge who is and who isn’t supporting ISIS, and the debate will stop.

How are your relations with the opposition within Syria?

They previously carried our propaganda against us. Some circles oppose us, saying we have a relationship with the PKK, and others clasim we collaborate with the regime. For those reasons they didn’t want to associate with us in international forums. But Kobanê has demonstrated who is a terrorist and who is fighting against terrorism. Both Western countries and forces in the Middle East have changed their stance as they have realised we are a serious actor in the Middle East.

In 2015 we will develop Kurdish diplomacy

Weren’t the Kurds seen as an actor previously?

International forces previously spoke to the Kurds through states such as Turkey, Iran and Iraq, but with Kobanê the Kurds began to be spoken to directly. For instance, it is because of Kobanê that states such as America, the UK and France have accepted us at a high level. This came about as a result of the struggle being waged by the Kurds in Kobanê. For three months the hearts of 40 million Kurds have been beating for Kobanê. Hence, hundreds of thousands of people all over the world came onto the streets for Kobanê. This opened many doors.

How will this assist Rojava diplomacy in 2015. What initiatives are you thinking of taking?

As a movement we are new to diplomacy and international relations. Therefore we have shortcomings. We could have achieved a lot more if we had had the cadre and organisation. I therefore take this opportunity to call on young people in academic circles in different countries to make contact with us, as we cannot go everywhere.

But despite this we have made a good start, and in 2015 we are expecting to achieve significant results in diplomacy. We do not expect ISIS and the chaotic situation in the Middle East to end soon. We are a significant force in the region, despite our shortcomings. We have proved this. Every day we receive applications from dozens of delegations wanting to visit Rojava, as we are establishing a freedom-based system in the Middle East with women playing a prominent role. Hence the interest.

At the Kurdish conference in the European Parliament you said that you would take an initiative for 1 November to be declared an international day against terrorism and in solidarity with Kobanê. Have you taken any steps?

We have announced this twice. We will continue our efforts to have this taken up by international bodies such as the UN. We decided this as a party and will wage a struggle for it.