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Rumaylan: PYD unilaterally announces federalism

KurdWatch, March 21, 2016—On March 17, 2016 representatives of the most important PYD‑affiliated organizations met in Rumaylan, located roughly two kilometers south of al‑Maʿbada (Girkê Legê), to decide upon a federal administrative system for the area in northern Syria under PYD control. The representatives also elected a thirty-one-member council to govern the region. In addition to PYD representatives, delegates from the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV‑DEM), the People’s Defense Units (YPG), from the PYD‑appointed Democratic Autonomous Administration as well as from the Syrian Democratic Forces of Syria also attended the meeting. The PYD calls the new federal unit a »democratic, federal system for Rojava and northern Syria«. The region is allegetly not ethnically defined and offers according to the PYD the potential to include in future ar‑Raqqa and other Arab areas. Neither the internal structure of the new system nor the concrete relationship to the Syrian central state was described in any detail.

Members of the Kurdish National Council in Syria responded negatively to the unilateral proclamation of a federal system. Kamiran Hajo, head of the Kurdish National Council’s external committee, is quoted in a press statement of the Geneva office of the organization as saying: »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.« At the same time Hajo opposed the statement of Ramzy Ezzedine Ramzy, the UN’s deputy special envoy for Syria, in which federalism is implicitly equated with the collapse of Syria.

Since 2012 the Kurdish National Council has called for a federal system for Syrian‑Kurdistan, admittedly without having a concrete idea of what this should look like. Until now, however, the PYD has categorically rejected such an administrative system. The current initiative is probably linked to the Russian proposal to introduce a federal system in Syria. Representatives of the Kurdish National Council assume that the PYD is aiming to thwart its efforts inside the framework of the Geneva peace talks to campaign for a federal system. As Siamand Hajo, a member of the external committee of the Kurdish National Council, told KurdWatch »The PYD’s unilateral proclamation for a federal system lacks logic since federalism requires the approval of at least two sides, a central authority and federal political units. The PYD is also making any reasonable discussion on this topic with the Arab opposition all the more difficult than it already is«.

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