Protest in the largely-Kurdish area of Afrin on Friday
Wladimir van Wilgenburg writes for EA:
Last Wednesday, supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad clashed with members of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Three Kurds and an Arab woman were killed. The PYD called on its supporters to remain vigilant, claiming the regime wants to create an Arab-Kurdish conflict.
According to Kurdish sources, the fighting was with members of the pro-Assad al-Bakara tribe, in the Kurdish-dominated districts of Shaykh Maqsud and Ashrafiyya. Allegedly 12 tribesmen were killed, and more than 50 injured. The supporters of the PYD’s People’s Protection Committee said it later "arrested" 15 Arabs, who supposedly carried security IDs.
Last Friday, there were several demonstrations in Kurdish cities in solidarity with the civilians killed in Aleppo. However the incident also showed divisions in the Kurdish ranks. Pro-PYD supporters " target="_blank">accused the rival Kurdish National Council (KNC) of ignoring the killings in their rallies, despite earlier attempts at co-operation between the two factions). The site Nasnamame suggested the KNC "waits until all Kurds in Aleppo are annihilated".
There had been attempts to increase cooperation between the PYD and the Kurdish National Council after the KNC broke their ties with the opposition Syrian National Council. However, the Kurdish political groups still have different interests, even using different "Kurdish national flags".
Although the Kurds are not "silent" as claimed by some analysts and Western media --- protests happen every day --- Kurdish organisations still demonstrate separately, and even from time to time clash with each other. The PYD has allegedly attacked the Union of Kurdish Democratic Forces in Syria.
Meanwhile, the tensions between the PYD and the Assad forces escalate. On 10 March, regime supporters attacked a TV crew of the pro-PKK TV-station Ronahî station in Shaikh Maqsud, killing one PYD member. In response, the PYD attacked an Arab family with close links to the regime, and there was a clash with the Syrian army, which withdrew after negotiations. On 16 March 16, PYD member Idris Ahmad Resho was killed by Syrian security forces in Al-Hassaka. And on 25 April in Qamishli, the PYD took members of the security forces hostage, after the regime arrested a member of a PYD committee.