The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and several allied groups have voted to create an autonomous federation in the northern part of Syria.
Officials of the PYD claimed autonomy in the Kurdish-controlled areas on Thursday after two days of meetings with delegates of different communities in the country’s north.
Representatives of the Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian communities and other ethnic groups met in the town of Rmeilan in Hassakeh province to discuss combining three Kurdish-led autonomous areas into a federal system.
Both the Syrian government and one of the main opposition blocs have rejected the move.
The Syrian foreign ministry issued a statement “warning anyone who dares to undermine the unity of the land and the people of Syria under any title,” adding: “Creating a union or a federal system … contradicts the Syrian constitution and all the national concepts and international resolutions.”
Rojava autonomy declared
The opposition Syrian National Coalition also said it rejects such unilateral declarations and warned of any attempt to form autonomous regions that “confiscate the will of the Syrian people”.
The newly declared region, named by Kurds as Rojava, consists of three distinct enclaves, or cantons, under Kurdish control in northern Syria: Jazira, Kobani and Afrin.
The move is sure to anger Turkey, which fears that the growing Kurdish power in Syria is encouraging separatism among its own Kurdish minority.
Idris Nassan, a Syrian Kurdish official and former leader in the Democratic Union Party, said on Wednesday that the announcement would mean “widening the framework of self-administration” across northern Syria.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Kobane, in Syria, Nassan said preparations for federalism had been ongoing for quite some time.
“Federalism should be the future not only for northern Syria or the Kurdish regions but for Syria in general, because under federalism democracy and equality will be guaranteed,” he said.
Syria’s Kurds effectively control an uninterrupted 400km of territory along the Syrian-Turkish border from the Euphrates River to the frontier with Iraq, where Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed autonomy since the early 1990s. They also hold a separate section of the northwestern border in the Afrin area.[Source: al-Jazeera]