SULAIMANIYAH – The Kurdish National Council (KNC), which is a part of the Syrian Coalition that participates in the Geneva talks, denounced the federalism declaration in Rumelan.
“The Kurdish National Council in Syria strongly denounces this step by the PYD [Democratic Union Party]. Although the KNC is in favour of federalism since 2012, it strictly opposes any attempt to impose federalism on the Syrian people without a preceding discussion,” said the KNC in a statement obtained by ARA News.
The statement shows the divisions between the KNC and the PYD, the main Syrian Kurdish parties, despite of three previous power-sharing agreements signed in Erbil and Duhok under the sponsorship of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). While the KNC is part of the Syrian opposition’s delegation in Geneva, the PYD is considered the most powerful Kurdish actor on the ground, and was excluded from the peace talks that continued on 14 March.
On 17 March, the PYD and it’s Arab allies announced a Democratic Federal System for Rojava and Norhern Syria in a two-days conference in the oil-rich town of Rumelan, appointing Hediya Yousef, a Kurd, and Mansur Selam, an Arab, as co-leaders, after they were excluded from the talks.
“Announcing federalism all of a sudden, lacking the urgently needed debate and democratic participation to possibly come to that decision, is just another form of dictatorship,” said Kamiran Hajo, chairman of the Foreign Relations Office of the KNC in a public statement.
The KNC also criticized the UN Deputy Special Envoy Ramzy Ezzeddine Ramzy for saying a united, sovereign Syria, is non-negotiable, which indicates that both the Syrian opposition and regime agree on a ‘unified’ Syria, and oppose federalism, while disagreeing on everything else.
“The Kurdish National Council objects the hereby implied correlation between federalism and the breakdown of Syria. On the contrary, one of the essential principles of most federal systems is ‘unity in diversity’, hence, federalism could strengthen the unity in Syria, providing for democratic participation of diverse groups on diverse levels of government at the same time,” the KNC said.
“PYD and UN seem to have clear stances towards federalism, but neither the one nor the other had discussed about what it really means,” said Kamiran Hajo. “At the end of the day inclusive talks cannot only mean to speak to everyone but to speak about every potential approach for a future Syria. Federalism is one of them.”
Pro-PYD politicians suggest that the KNC is under Turkish and Syrian opposition influence, and therefore is against the federal region announced by Kurds and Arabs in Syria.
“This is because they are under Turkish pressure and some parts of the Syrian opposition that are against the democratic administration in Rojava [Syria’s Kurdish region],” Idris Nassan, Kurdish analyst and a former official in the local administration in Kobane, told ARA News.
“Turkey is afraid of spreading feelings of freedom, democracy and equality to millions of Kurds in Turkey, and the opposition tries to renew the central power in Syria and wants to replace Assad by a Sunni,” he stated.
“So even the KNC demanded federalism with the start of Syrian uprising, but now they don’t accept Rojava federalism,” Nassan said.
Experts suggest the KNC statement shows the internal rivalry among the main Kurdish factions in Syria.
“It is hard to know what the KNC actually wants. There is a fundamental contradiction between the Kurdish nationalist ideology of the KNC and the political project of its Syrian allies. Sometimes it seems that the only consistent policy of the KNC is to oppose anything that the PYD does,” Carl Drott, a sociology researcher at the University of Oxford, UK, told ARA News.
It’s most likely that tensions between the KNC and PYD over power-sharing will continue, while the only thing the Syrian opposition and the Assad regime agree upon is that the Kurds should not get any form of self-rule in northern Syria.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Source: ARA News
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