Rojava administration shuts down KNC offices

A KNC office attacked following clashes in Shingal, 3 March 2017

Several party offices including those belonging to the Kurdish National Council (KNC) have been shut down by the de-facto autonomous administration in northern Syria (Rojava), reported AFP.

The move comes after tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) led to clashes last week resulting in the death of Yazidi fighters and civilians affiliated to the latter group in Shingal, northern Iraq.

Hakam Khelo, who co-heads the legislative council of the autonomous Kurdish authorities in northeastern Hasakah province, told AFP the closures were in line law.

“We’re implementing the political party licensing law which was issued by the autonomous administration three years ago. Parties that have not licensed their offices will be legally closed,” Khelo said.

Kurdish authorities also closed the offices of the Assyrian Democratic Organisation, one of the oldest groups representing the Christian sect in Syria.

The Assyrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the ADO’s closure, calling it “arbitrary”.

Khelo said the KNC and other groups had received “multiple warnings… but they did not present the necessary paperwork to be licensed”.

The attempt to deploy a peshmerga force affiliated to the KDP in the town of Khanasor, at the Iraq-Syria border, raised tensions after the PKK-affiliated Yazidi Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) blocked their path, saying it was an attempt to forcefully occupy the area.

The PKK has claimed that the peshmerga force, known as the Rojava peshmerga and affiliated to the KNC, were being deployed to oust them from the area and encircle the Kurdish-led autonomous administration in Syria, to “suffocate it”.

The KDP is viewed as supporting the KNC, while the autonomous administration operates under the umbrella of the Union of Communities in Kurdistan (KCK), which also includes the PKK.

Parties affiliated to the KNC, which is a part of the opposition Syrian National Council supported by Turkey and other regional states, have refused to get permission for activities, alleging that the autonomous administration is not legitimate.

Several offices belonging the KNC were also attacked with several being burned down by unidentified assailants following the death of Yazidi and PKK fighters Shingal on 3 March.

More than 30 people protesting the KDP’s actions in Shingal were also detained in the Kurdistan region’s capital Erbil by security forces last week. Six people thought to be members of Turkey’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) are still in custody, according to reports.

The tit-for-tat actions between the parties has been criticised by other Kurdish parties who have called for dialogue for a resolution of the conflict.