Posts Tagged With: Pyd

Kurdish YPG recruiting Arab loyalists to fight jihadists in Syria

The Democratic Union Party (PYD) has reportedly established Arab brigades made up of regime loyalists…

In the original draft of the below mentioned article there was also this passage which is still worth of interest: 

“Politically, the space given to Arabs is criticized by the PYD’s Kurdish rivals as a mere facade concocted by the regime. “The representation of Arabs in the new government remains a ‘decor’ featured by figures like [the head of the agricultural committee] Saleh al-Zuba’i, who was the secretary of the Hasakah’s branch of the Movement of Arab Socialists, a member of the regime-backed National Progressive Front,” member of the political bureau of the Barzani-backed Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (PDKS), Muhammad Isma’il, told Al-Monitor in a Skype interview from Qamishli”

Another prominent pro-regime figure which has been coopted by the PYD is Shaykh Humaydi Daham al-Jarba, who is now the president of the al-Jazirah canton in the government of Rojava (he is known for leading the Jaysh al-Karama, a pro-government Arab militia, and recognizing Bashar al-Asad as the only legitimate Syrian president in spite of the establishment of Rojava). 

(in the photo: Hawas Jammo and Osama Jasim al-Karot, two well-known pro-regime Arabs who joined the YPG in Ras al-‘Ayn)

Syrian Kurds recruit regime loyalists to fight jihadists

two Arab shabbiha join YPG source kurdistanabinxete

According to local Arab and Kurdish sources, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has been enlisting Arab loyalists in its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), in a bid to boost its credibility among Arabs and join efforts with the Syrian regime on the battleground against the opposition. This military strategy was reportedly accompanied by some intense consultations held in Qamishli between the regime and its Arab allies immediately before the formation of the PYD-led autonomous government on Jan. 21.

On Nov. 2, Rihab News reported that the Arab Brigade of the Free Patriots joined the YPG in Ras al-Ain, northwest of Hassakeh. The brigade’s commander Hawas Jammo and another of its fighters, Osama Jasim al-Karot, are known to be regime collaborators who attacked anti-regime demonstrators in 2012, according to the Rihab News report and local Kurdish activists and journalists who spoke with Al-Monitor.

Errata corrige (29/04/2018): The text is now available here as Al-Monitor’s archives are undergoing a reconstruction. I’ve asked today to amend the following passage.

“A pro-YPG Kurdish activist from Ras al-Ain, who wished to remain anonymous, told Al-Monitor via phone that it is possible that “there was not enough popular support for the regime to set up an NDA branch in Ras al-Ain, [so] it chose a limited option under the banner of the YPG.”

I don’t think it’s completely accurate to refer to this source as “pro-YPG”. He was in favor of the YPG presence in Ras al-Ayn, against the presence of most Arab Islamist opposition factions there, but he was also actively involved with the Azadi party (part of the anti-PYD bloc, which was closer to Barzani). Probably more accurate to describe him as a Kurdish activist only.

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Yazidis benefit from Kurdish autonomy in Northeast Syria

How Syria’s Yazidi community sees an opportunity to revive its identity on the tails of rising Kurdish power in the country’s northeast. 

Yazidis Benefit From Kurdish Gains in Northeast Syria

View of Yezidi temple in Lalish some 50 km north from Iraqi city of Mosul May 11, 2003. The Yezidi religion, seen by its followers as the original Kurdish faith, is believed to date back several thousand years and blends ideas from sources as diverse as Zoroastrianism, Islam and Christianity. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov REUTERS SZH/AS - RTRNBQ2

View of Yezidi temple in Lalish some 50 km north from Iraqi city of
Mosul May 11, 2003. The Yezidi religion, seen by its followers as the
original Kurdish faith, is believed to date back several thousand years
and blends ideas from sources as diverse as Zoroastrianism, Islam and
Christianity. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov REUTERS

AMUDA, Syria — “Some years ago I tried to open a bus company and call it Roj, which in Kurdish means sun,” said Adnan Ammo, a 50-year-old farmer from Merkeb. “I was summoned by political security for a suspected connection with Roj TV [one of the satellite channels affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)]. Even after I explained to them that I am Yazidi and we venerate the sun, they forced me to change the name. I proposed Judi, the name of my son, but that was rejected too, as it’s a Kurdish name. In the end we had to shut down the activity.”

The followers of the Yazidi religion have been historically discriminated against on both ethnic and religious grounds, being part of a Kurdish pre-Islamic sect. The Yazidi faith is currently exposed to the risk of extinction, as expatriates tend to neglect its traditions and a growing number of Yazidis are leaving Syria to escape radical Islamists. On the other hand, most Kurdish parties seem to bank on the revitalization of the Yazidi identity in order to back historical land claims and belittle the Islamization of Kurds, as part of an opposition to Islamist brigades.

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Rojava: What about the Arabs?

An article I wrote for Al-Monitor in October 2013. Kurdish autonomy in north-east Syria will struggle if Syria’s Kurdish forces do not reach an understanding with local Arab residents. (Forget about the nonsense title given to this piece on Al-Monitor: the content has nothing to do with the PYD’s rise…no comment 🙂

a Syrian beduin woman source ICRC

RAS AL-AIN, Syria — The Mesopotamian Al-Jazira plain is populated by a majority of Arabs, but the northern districts of the province of Hasakah, including the two main cities Qamishli and Hasakah, will soon see the first steps of a Kurdish-led administrative and political decentralization. Arabs here hold different views on Kurdish autonomy, ranging from support to skepticism and opposition. Regardless of the political shape of these regions, it is urgently necessary to reconcile both communities and solve the land disputes caused by the presence of Arab settlers, in order to ward off a Kirkuk-like ethnic strife.

“The self-management plan won’t discriminate among the different communities,” said Ahmad al-Ahmad, an Arab staff member in the Ministry of Education from al-Jabriyya, a village next to Amuda. “Therefore, I support it. We want to see locals, whether Arabs or Kurds, managing and developing these regions,” he told Al-Monitor. Ahmad is originally from Tabqa in Raqqa province and he settled in al-Jabriyya 37 years ago. He belongs to the so-called maghmurin, “flooded,” Arab tribes resettled by the government along the northern border of the province of Hasakah in the 1970s, in order to compensate them for the loss of their lands flooded by the construction of the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates between 1968 and 1973. It was part of the Arabization plan drafted by Hasakah’s police chief, Mohammad Talab Hilal, in 1963 to change the demographic balance at the expense of Kurds.

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Syria: Arab opposition’s agreement with Kurds irrelevant without PYD

An article I wrote for Al-Monitor on the agreement achieved between the Syrian National Coalition and the Kurdish National Council in Sept. 2013 (the one where they finally reached an understanding on renaming the Syrian “Arab” Republic as Syrian Republic…though conditions applied, ,making it an agreement void of any meaning…). 

Syrian Opposition, Kurd Agreement Irrelevant Without PYD

Syrian Kurd Syrian opp agreement source kurdpress

QAMISHLI, Syria — The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) approved on Sept. 16 the first agreement to incorporate a major Kurdish bloc, the Kurdish National Council (KNC). Despite reservations on both sides, the two groupings are supposed to meet to announce the alliance officially by the end September

However, on Sept. 8, the KNC reached a separate deal with the other main Kurdish alliance — the People’s Council of West Kurdistan (PCWK) — which is affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to draft the constitution of a transitional Kurdish government to be elected 4 to 6 months later.

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Dissent and Exodus in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava)

Here’s an article I wrote for Al-Monitor while I was in Syria in early September 2013. It deals with the PYD’s policies as the party was struggling to contain a massive exodus…

Syrian Kurdish Party Struggles With Dissent, Exodus

Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in their country, wait to cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, August 21, 2013.  The government of Iraqi Kurdistan has set an entry quota of 3,000 refugees a day to cope with an influx of Kurds fleeing the civil war in Syria, but there are signs many more are still coming in, aid agencies said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION) - RTX12SKT

Syrian refugees, fleeing the violence in their country, wait to cross the border into the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, August 21, 2013. The government of Iraqi Kurdistan has set an entry quota of 3,000 refugees a day to cope with an influx of Kurds fleeing the civil war in Syria, but there are signs many more are still coming in, aid agencies said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani (IRAQ – Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS SOCIETY IMMIGRATION) – RTX12SKT

AMUDA, Syria — On Aug. 17, between 5,000 and 8,000 Syrian Kurds fled their country following the reopening of the Pesh Khabur border crossing between Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan. On Aug. 21, the mass exodus prompted the de facto Syrian Kurdish authorities — the Kurdish Supreme Commission (KSC), which is dominated by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — to implement a resolution issued in April to block emigration with the exception of certified medical reasons.

PYD officials claim the decision was taken to counter a plot aimed at changing the demographic balance of these regions at the expense of Kurds, while calling on locals to remain in Syria and exploit this unique chance to achieve Kurdish autonomy.

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27 June 2013: Syrian Kurdish YPG stifles dissent in Amuda by killing protesters

A piece I wrote from Amuda for Al-Monitor after the massacre occurred on June 27 in this city.

Syrian Kurdish Group Linked to PKK  Kills Protesters

amuda tenzif

AMUDA, Syria — “There are 35 million Kurds and only 30,000 of them live in Amuda. Now, if you have 35 kilograms of meat for a meal, you are not going to eat them because of a bunch of flies?” a Kurdish fighter with the Popular Protection Units (YPG) asked cynically while relaxing outside the military barracks. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) — the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the political affiliate of the YPG — has carefully consolidated its project to manage the Syrian Kurdish areas. It will not accept anyone interfering with its hegemony — especially if this happens ahead of the Geneva II conference, where the party has been promised a seat by Russia.

In Amuda, the PYD’s hegemony has become increasingly under threat from the pro-Free Syrian Army youth committees and other Kurdish parties, prompting its first military crackdown last week. Between June 27 and 28, seven civilians were gunned down by YPG forces following protests. According to witnesses, only one of them was armed. The United States issued a statement on Monday saying it was “appalled” by the PYD crackdown, calling on the PYD to “respect the human rights and dignity of all Syrians.”

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La strategia della tensione siriana tra Turchia, Pkk e petrolio

Articolo pubblicato su Left (Avvenimenti). Ho cercato di tracciare una linea continua tra attentati di Reyhanli (Turchia), trattative di pace tra Pkk e Ankara e i possibili movimenti di Damasco nei confronti delle regioni petrolifere finite nelle mani dei curdi siriani (e in particolare della frangia siriana del Pkk, il Pyd). Nel sottotitolo pubblicato sul sito (e purtroppo in quello andato in stampa) compare la frase: i curdi “vorrebbero vendere il greggio all’Europa”, ma si tratta del frutto di un’aggiunta della redazione che non trova fondamento nell’articolo. Dovrebbero provvedere al più presto ad eliminarla.

Ostaggi del Petrolio


di Andrea Glioti


I curdi non si meritano la pace. Specie se vogliono il petrolio. L’11 maggio a Reyhanli, estremo sud della Turchia, due enormi esplosioni hanno fatto 51 morti e circa 200 feriti. Un attentato orchestrato al di là di quel confine che corre a pochi chilometri dalla città. È il tentativo siriano di boicottare i negoziati di pace tra i guerriglieri curdi del Pkk e il governo Erdogan. Il regime di Bashar al-Asad intende dimostrare alla Turchia che non può conseguire una stabilizzazione interna se non smette di sostenere l’opposizione siriana. Pacificare il fronte curdo, proseguendo nei negoziati con Ocalan, non è la strategia giusta per assicurarsi la quiete al confine.

Dopo un periodo di relativa calma, il popolo curdo deve tornare alla realtà. Anche nelle città del nord est siriano come Tell Tamr e Hasakeh si sono intensificati gli scontri tra tribù arabe e milizie lealiste al regime da una parte, e frangia siriana del Pkk (Pyd- Partito dell’unione democratica) dall’altra. Il messaggio è inequivocabile: l’autonomia de facto conseguita nell’ultimo anno dalla minoranza curda siriana è frutto della necessità del governo di Damasco di garantirsi una regione cuscinetto al confine turco. Una riconciliazione curdo-turca vanificherebbe però il piano, trasformando quell’area in provincia occidentale di un’altra comunità ostile. Se questo dovesse succedere, il regime di Bashar non esiterà a volgere la sua artiglieria verso il Kurdistan siriano, anche perché c’è un altro interesse da salvaguardare: buona parte delle risorse energetiche di Damasco si trovano qui, e oggi sono finite in mano al Pyd.

Damasco conosce bene l’importanza della provincia di Hasakeh, dove si concentra oltre metà del petrolio del Paese. Il regime, infatti, ha sempre negato l’autosufficienza alle regioni curde, collegando i loro pozzi petroliferi alle raffinerie di Homs e Banyas nella Siria occidentale. Oggi le trivelle si stagliano inerti all’orizzonte, ma per la prima volta i pozzi sono stati “affidati in custodia esente da cauzione” al Pyd. La notizia emerge da documenti governativi pubblicati dal settimanale indipendente Jisr. «Circa il 60 per cento dei pozzi è in mano al Pyd e il rimanente 40 per cento si trova sotto il controllo dell’opposizione araba», precisa K., che lavora come ingegnere specializzato in trivellazione nelle Direzione locale del ministero del Petrolio. Il Pyd sta approfittando della situazione di stallo nel conflitto siriano per gettare le fondamenta di un’autosufficienza energetica. Tra i suoi progetti c’è anche quello di avviare l’importazione di gas dal Kurdistan iracheno e di comprare elettricità dalla Turchia.

Il progetto di autonomia del Partito curdo ha preso avvio nell’estate del 2012, quando il Pyd ha colto l’occasione del ritiro della maggioranza delle forze di sicurezza governative per creare una rete di nuove istituzioni: corpi di polizia, esercito, associazioni e scuole. Tutto ciò è stato possibile con il tacito consenso del regime, nonostante i dirigenti del Pyd neghino ogni forma di coordinamento. La realtà sulle relazioni con Damasco è sotto gli occhi di tutti: a Qamishli, dove l’intelligence siriana non ha abbandonato le proprie sedi, i posti di blocco delle milizie curde distano pochi isolati da quelli del regime e le gigantografie del presidente troneggiano ancora sugli edifici governativi.

Per sradicare il regime, però, la Ue tenta di sostenere l’opposizione anche in Kurdistan. L’ha fatto abolendo, il 22 aprile, l’embargo petrolifero. Ma i risultati sono stati opposti. Il fronte anti regime si è diviso, perché il Pyd intende presentarsi come partner commerciale indipendente, diverso sia dal regime di Damasco che dall’opposizione araba. «La Commissione suprema curda (la maggiore coalizione politica della regione, dominata dal Pyd) è l’unico soggetto autorizzato alla compravendita del petrolio in nome dei curdi», sottolinea Bashir Malla, membro del Pyd, «ma la Ue non l’ha nemmeno menzionata nel suo appello rivolto esclusivamente all’opposizione araba». La decisione europea ha irritato anche i leader militari della ribellione araba. «Siamo contrari alla vendita del petrolio prima della formazione di un governo a interim nelle zone liberate», ci dice il maggior Muntasir al-Khaled, comandante del consiglio militare dell’Esercito siriano libero (Esl) di Hasakeh. «Per il momento i pozzi sono in mano a una moltitudine di forze armate che non dialogano tra di loro». L’obiettivo dell’esercito dei ribelli è di unificare politicamente le regioni petrolifere attraverso un’offensiva militare. «Se ora l’opposizione decidesse di accettare l’offerta europea, il regime bombarderebbe immediatamente qualsiasi cargo di petrolio diretto all’estero», commenta M., ingegnere elettrico che lavora a Hasakeh. Finora le regioni curde sono state risparmiate dalla devastazione, ma il petrolio potrebbe portare la guerra anche qui.

Il Pyd conosce i propri limiti da “custode” delle regioni petrolifere: sa di non potersi ancora permettere di riavviare le trivellazioni e di dover mantenere aperto il dialogo con Damasco. «L’interruzione della produzione petrolifera sta danneggiando l’intero Paese e, per il momento, il regime rimane l’unico possibile acquirente del greggio», ammette Bashir Malla. Il Pyd viene accusato di aver continuato a pompare petrolio verso le raffinerie governative per diverse settimane, dopo aver preso in consegna i pozzi. «Il Pyd si è impadronito delle trivelle il primo marzo 2013, ma il petrolio ha continuato ad arrivare a Banyas fino al 20 del mese, quando alcuni gruppi dell’opposizione araba hanno chiuso le valvole a Tell Hamis», ricorda l’ingegnere elettrico.

Oggi, per il regime, le aree amministrate dai curdi sono diventate meno affidabili. E in caso di un avvicinamento tra la Turchia (che sostiene i ribelli siriani) e il Pkk (alleato dei curdi del Pyd) Damasco potrebbe decidere di puntare su nuovi partner per la tutela delle sue riserve energetiche. Nella frammentazione siriana, infatti, ci sono rivalità etniche che il regime di Bashar può essere sfruttare per trovare referenti affidabili. Basta camminare per le vie di Ma’abadeh, cittadina curda nei pressi del confine iracheno, per accorgersi degli inconfondibili volti olivastri dei profughi arabi provenienti dalla martoriata provincia di Deyr az-Zor. Tra il Pyd e alcuni clan di quella zona non corre buon sangue dal 2004, quando il regime li utilizzò per reprimere una rivolta curda scoppiata a Qamishli. E nella cittadina di Tell Tamr un’ altra tribù lealista, la Sharabin, è stata coinvolta di recente in alcuni scontri con le milizie del Pyd. Si tratta solo di una delle carte a disposizione del regime, ma anche l’opposizione trova orecchie ricettive alla sua propaganda etno-nazionalista contro i curdi: l’episodio più recente è stato il coinvolgimento di parte del clan Baggara nella fallimentare offensiva lanciata dall’Esercito di liberazione a Ras al-’Ayn. Gli arabi volevano “liberare” le regioni curde ma non ci sono riusciti. «Abbiamo accettato di rispettare una tregua, ma non consideriamo liberate le regioni sotto il controllo del Pyd», chiarisce il comandante dell’Esl, Muntasir al-Khalid. «Quando cadrà il regime dovranno innalzare la bandiera della rivoluzione e non quella del loro partito».E quando si tratta di gas e petrolio, persino gli accordi tra opposizione e regime non sono da escludere. «Sappiamo per certo che, in passato, il regime ha pagato alcune fazioni dell’opposizione per assicurarsi il passaggio degli oleodotti tra Hasakeh e Deyr az-Zor», afferma K., l’ingegnere petrolifero.

Mentre i contendenti trattano sotto banco, la gente comune continua a convivere con la carenza di derivati petroliferi fondamentali come il mazout, l’olio combustibile più utilizzato a scopo domestico. Le strade sono costellate di venditori ambulanti di mazout raffinato in casa, il cui prezzo conosce rialzi vertiginosi a seconda dell’oscillazione del dollaro sul mercato nero. In più, la raffinazione casalinga non prevede nessuna protezione dall’inalazione di gas tossici come l’idrogeno solforato. «Abbiamo riscontrato un aumento dei casi di ustioni e infiammazioni polmonari causate da questi processi artigianali di raffinazione», conferma Wa’el Abu Ahmad, medico che lavora a Ras al-’Ayn, presso la falange dell’opposizione Ghoraba’ Sham. «La scarsità di mazout potrebbe anche causare un’epidemia di colera quest’estate, perché senza carburante si fermano gli automezzi che ritirano la spazzatura e puliscono le strade». Perché nella terra delle trivelle, la benzina è un lusso che i curdi non si possono permettere.

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Free Syrian Army neglects health sector in Ras al-‘Ayn (Sere Kanye)

A piece I wrote from Syria for the Swiss weekly WOZ Die Wochenzeitung : it is based on the account of a doctor in Ras al-‘Ayn (Sere Kanye in Kurdish), who accused the Arab armed opposition of neglecting the health sector. The response I got from the Free Syrian Army’s commander in Hasakeh is that weapons come before medicines in the current situation. For those of you who don’t read German (like me;), here is the original English version. Photo taken by my friend Bahzad Hajj Hammo, who writes for the Syrian weekly Jisr.

Free Syrian Army: In a stateless country weapons have the priority over medicines


By Andrea Glioti

Ras al-‘Ayn (Hasakeh-Syria)- April 29, 2013

Over the last year, the Syrian armed opposition has expanded significantly its area of influence at the expenses of the regime. However, since the State hospitals stopped functioning in the hands of the rebels, people need to cope with the lack of drugs and medical personnel. In such dire conditions, the phalanges of the opposition are blamed for living in luxury at the expenses of the neglected health sector.

On April 22, the European Union lifted the oil embargo on Syria with the declared aim to help the uprising in coordination with the most-widely recognized opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), whose armed wing is the Free Syrian Army (FSA). For the opposition, the condition to restart selling oil is the formation of a transitional Government in the liberated areas, but who will ensure that oil revenues will not enrich arm dealers only?

Located in the north-eastern province of al-Hasakeh, the Arab-Kurdish town of Ras al-‘Ayn (Serê Kaniyê in Kurdish) is a crucial border passage to Turkey, which was taken over by the Arab opposition in October 2012.

In February, it has been the battlefield of two-weeks of clashes between the Arab opposition and the Kurdish YPG (Popular Protection Units, Yekîneyên Parastina Gel), the armed wing of the PKK-tied PYD (Democratic Union Party, Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat). A truce signed on February 17 is still holding, but the situation is likely to explode again soon. “We are committed to the agreement, but we don’t consider liberated the areas under the control of the Pyd, as there is no revolutionary flag waving over them,” affirms maj. Muntasir al-Khalid, commander of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) Military Council of the province of Hasakeh.

Echoing the position of most Kurdish opposition parties, the PYD avoided Government shelling by keeping aloof from Arab rebels, while profiting from the regime’s need to count on a Kurdish buffer zone to deter any possible Turkish interference in support of the FSA. The result is that most Kurdish areas enjoy now a de-facto autonomy and the Pyd refuses categorically to hand them over to the FSA.

In such a volatile context, Ghuraba’ al-Sham’s Wa’el Abu Ahmad is one of the few active doctors. Despite having a stable occupation in Russia, he decided to return to fight and heal the wounded in Aleppo: in his words, “the gun in one hand and the first-aid kit in the other.”

Six months ago, when Ras al-‘Ayn fell in the hands of the opposition, Abu Ahmad settled there to open his ‘clinic’: two tiny rooms, whose floors are scattered with unpacked drugs and potato sacks. “We received used  and half-empty medicine stocks from the Turkish border passage and, overall, around one fourth of the medicines are expired,” complains Abu Ahmad, while pointing at the date stated on the boxes.

According to the doctor’s experience, the ongoing conflict has led to the outbreak of lungs inflammation, due to the exhalations of corpses and waste, besides the scorches caused by the homemade refining of fuel oil (mazout). Moreover, during the Arab-Kurdish clashes, numerous dogs contracted rabies after eating the corpses left in the streets, but Abu Ahmad lacks the serum needed to heal those bitten.

“Three months ago, fourteen people died of kidney diseases, because the State hospital was closed and the necessary equipment got stolen,” continues a disappointed Abu Ahmad.

A patient from Deyr az-Zor wrote a message on the clinic’s wall: “If every mujahidin gave 1kg of wheat for the treatment he receives for free.” Dr. Abu Ahmad works as a volunteer and blames the FSA Military Council for keeping making promises without allocating anything out of the profits derived from the seizure of barns in Ras al-‘Ayn.

As a matter of fact, maj. Muntasir al-Khalid confirms that 3 to 4 million dollars in wheat were sold solely by the FSA Military Council to buy weapons at the Iraqi and Turkish border, following the clashes with the PYD.

“The opposition took over oil wells, poultry, cows and we cannot even afford a 8000 Syp power generator,” continues Abu Ahmad, “1000Syp from every fighter would be enough to satisfy our needs, but they prefer to spend hundreds of dollars in cigarettes, banquets, cars and weapons.”

The FSA blunt response is that, under the light of the current situation, the priority goes to weapons rather than doctors. “The health sector requires a State support, whereas our capabilities are modest,” affirms a peeved maj. Muntasir al-Khalid, “weapons and cars are essential and we’re paying them from our pockets, so that at the moment they come before medical support.” The FSA major laughs at the doctor’s allegations of luxury, “This is what you call luxury?” he says pointing at a pack of  few Syrian banknotes on the mattress where he is lying. A few minutes before, a young bearded mujahidin from the FSA-affiliated brigade Dir’ al-muslimin has entered the room to boast about the group’s latest achievements with another journalist: “We are making progresses…Cars, weapons, you saw Abu Wa’el’s new Jeep?”

The list of dr. Abu Ahmad’s complaints is still long. “Both Jabhat al-Nusra and the Military Council have ambulances, but they don’t allow me to use them,” asserts the doctor, “I need to arrange trips to reach villages 40Km away by renting a motorcycle without any sort of protection.”

On the clinic’s walls there are YPG graffiti and Christian icons: the doctor shows them as evidence that everyone receives medical treatment, despite the Islamist orientation of Ghuraba’ al-Sham. Nevertheless, on the battleground there is no echo of these principles. “We received several aid offers from the YPG, but I cannot accept, as the Arab opposition would accuse me of being their agent,” reports Abu Ahmad, “in their eyes, a Kurdish house is a red line I shouldn’t cross to help.”

This is the context where the EU plans to inject oil revenues. At the moment, the oil fields are divided between several different militias, including some outside the SNC umbrella, hence the coalition is against reopening the oil trade.  “We’re against selling oil under the current circumstances, there is no dialogue between the different forces in control of the oil wells,” reassures Muntasir al-Khalid, “the oil trade remains dependent on the formation of an interim government on the Syrian ground”

On the other hand, dr. Abu Ahmad remains sharply critical of the future Syrian partner of EU oil imports. “You can call it the National Coalition of thieves: millions coming from Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been amassed in Reyhanli [N/A:Turkish refugee camp] and we haven’t seen anything,” maintains the doctor, “I just want those responsible of exploiting the mujahidin to be held accountable.”

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The dispute over energy reserves in North-Eastern Syria

An article I wrote for Al-Monitor after a set of interviews with warring factions, engineers and normal people, who are not even getting electricity out of all these energy reserves.

Syrian Oil Becomes Fault Line
In War

A man works at a makeshift oil refinery site in al-Mansoura village in Raqqa














By: Andrea Glioti for Al-Monitor Posted on May 16.

MALEKIYYAH, Al-HASSAKAH PROVINCE, Syria — The province of Hassakah is the Syrian oil tank. Before the revolution, its 170,000 barrels per day accounted for more than half of the country’s oil production, thus representing the backbone of those oil exports covering a third of national export revenues. Syrian oil engineers working in the province told Al-Monitorthat the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — currently controls around 60% of the oil fields, leaving the remaining 40% in the hands of several factions of the Arab opposition. Since the conflict engulfed the route of the pipelines to the refineries, however, the drills have stopped working.

Despite such a fragmented context, the European Union on April 22 decided to lift the oil embargo on liberated regions in Syria in an attempt to support the opposition. The move, though, is likely to stir up Kurdish-Arab strife and catalyze regime raids on a region that has largely remained immune to the conflict so far. The war for control of Syria’s energy resources has not even started, but mutual allegations are already circulating between the parties involved, which accuse each other of cutting power supplies and dealing with the regime.

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The road to Kurdish autonomy still passes from Damascus

My first article from the province of Hasakeh (Syrian Kurdistan). It appeared on Al-Monitor on May 7. (follow the link to keep reading, unfortunately I cannot post the whole article here for copyright issues…)

Kurdish Group Gaining Autonomy
In Northern Syria


(photo from

QAMISHLI, Syria — Bilingual signs, “Western Kurdistan” (Rojava in Kurdish) on car license plates, Kurdish security forces (Asayish), Kurdish courts, municipalities, flags, unions and schools teaching Kurdish. This is the new look of the Kurdish-majority Syrian northern regions, the outcome of the withdrawal of regime security forces in July 2012 and the result of a delicate coexistence between Baathist and Kurdish institutions.

Syrian Kurds now have the chance to reap the benefits from the stalemate between the regime and the Arab opposition. But all this would not have been possible without a certain degree of connivance with the regime by the main Kurdish militia on the ground — the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Regardless of the de facto autonomy achieved and the growing popularity of the PYD, some fear the authoritarian features of the party’s agenda.

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