In October 1998, under Turkish pressure, Ocalan was made to leave Syria. He fled through several countries until Turkish agents captured him in Kenya. But much of his Syrian infrastructure remained. Later it would be revamped as the Democratic Union Party, or PYD. The PYD taught its followers to focus on the fight in Turkey, not Syria. Instead of organising a struggle for Kurdish civil and national rights at home, the PYD sent nationalist young men to join the insurgency across the border. The party (and others too) played a confusing role during the 2004 Syrian Kurdish intifada. On the one hand, many PYD-affiliated Kurds were arrested and abused, and some detained for years, for their anti-regime activities; on the other, Kurds sometimes reported that the PYD assisted the regime in suppressing the uprising. When the 2011 protest movement erupted, Kurds formed a key component. Arab Syrians showed their appreciation by chanting “Azadi” – the Kurdish word for freedom. The revolutionary leader Meshaal Temmo, supporting resistance to the regime and self-determination for all, described the Kurds as “an inseparable part of the Syrian people”. The regime assassinated him in October 2011. The PYD, meanwhile, repressed Kurds who protested against Assad. Interviewed for our book “Burning Country”, activist and aid worker Serdar Ahmad complained, “It was the PYD which stopped our  Kurdish revolution, just as in 2011 it was the PYD that acted as Assad’s shabeeha in the Kurdish areas, beating protestors with sticks.” In July 2012, hard-pressed against the developing the Free Syrian Army challenge, the Assad regime made an orderly withdrawal from Kurdish-majority areas, handing over security installations to the PYD. A transfer of authority, therefore, rather than a liberation.
Robin Yassin-Kassab in ‘Democratic Confederalism’ or Counter-revolution? (NewArab)