Syrian Kurds declare Qamishli as capital for the new federal system

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From the ceremonies of the declaration of federalism in Rojava, Rumelan, northeastern Syria. File photo: ARA New

ARA News 

QAMISHLI – The Syrian Kurds and their allies declared the northeastern city of Qamishlo [Qamishli] as the new capital of the federal system in Northern Syria and Rojava, a Kurdish leaders and member of the Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) told ARA News.

While the war between the Syrian government and opposition factions continue, Syrian Kurds are finalizing their plans to establish a new federal system for northern Syria while at the same time fighting the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) in Manbij border pocket.

A new draft for the social contract of the federal system was published last Friday to serve as a new constitution for Northern Syria in the future. The draft mentions all ethnic groups living in Rojava [Syria’s Kurdish region], and addresses their cultural, political and linguistic rights. 

After the approval of the contract, general elections will be held within three months that are now being prepared by election committees.

“Until now it’s a draft, and it’s under discussion,” Diyar Qamislo, a member of the diplomatic relations office of the Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) told ARA News. “Having Qamislo as a capital is not wrong, the city contains Arabs, Christians, and Kurds, and represents all the nations in northern Syria.”

The new federal project might lead to tensions with the Syrian regime. On Sunday, regime forces attacked the Kurdish Asayish forces in the city of Hasakah. In late April, there were also heavy clashes between the Syrian regime and the Kurds in Qamishli city.

According to the leading Kurdish official, the recent comments by UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura that the Kurds are only five per cent of Syria, and that their federalist plans provoke local Syrians “are wrong”.

“Our project is not based on nationalist thinking, we don’t base our system on a ‘Kurdistani’ basis. Racist people are always angry about this, and ask why the People Protection Units [YPG] do not contain the word Kurds,” he told ARA News. “Maybe we will even remove the name of Rojava, and have only northern Syria,” he said.

The Kurdish National Council (KNC) last week announced that they have prepared a constitution for a federal Kurdistan region in Syria, but TEV-DEM rejects a federal system based on a Kurdish ethnicity. As a result, tensions and disagreements between TEV-DEM and the KNC continue.

“No, we will not join [the federal elections]. We are not concerned about their federal system, because it’s not recognized by any international power,” said Shamdin Nabi, the head of the local council of the KNC in Qamishli.

The KNC has accused TEV-DEM of having a non-Kurdish project. Nevertheless, the KNC works with the Syrian opposition that rejects any kind of Kurdish autonomy.

However, TEV-DEM thinks that in the future they will be included in the international peace talks in Geneva, and that the KNC that is part of the Syrian opposition does not represent the Kurds.

“If the next rounds [of Syria peace talks in Geneva] will be without the Kurds, it will be a failure,” Qamislo told ARA News. “We think the Kurds will be part of the Geneva talks, but until now there is no official statement on that.” 

“We fight ISIS on the behalf of the world, not just for the Kurds. The only ones who can resist is us, that’s why the world assists the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), because ISIS is a threat to the entire world,” he added .

And unlike the KNC, the TEV-DEM does not want a federal system for only Kurds, and also wants to have education for not only Kurds, but also Arabs and Syriacs.

“This federal system is not only Kurdish, we refuse this; this region contains many ethnic groups, including the Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Syriacs,” he said.

“Many countries have a federal system, like in the European Union, this is enhancing the unity of the countries, not weakening them. We don’t believe in a [Kurdish] nationalist state,” he added.

According to Qamislo, Raqqa, Manbij, and other areas such as Shaddadi that was liberated from ISIS in the future will administer themselves as part of the new federal system. 

“People in Manbij and Raqqa will rule themselves, and all cities such as Qamishlo, Shaddadi, Manbij and Raqqa will be part of one federal council,” the official concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News

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