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article imageMany different critics of Kurdish vote for autonomy in Syria

By Ken Hanly     Mar 18, 2016 in Politics
Damascus - The Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria have voted to seek autonomy. The vote was to unite three Kurdish-controlled provinces into a federal system. The move could complicate UN-backed peace talks, in which Kurds are not included.
The Kurds in Syria have had an autonomous area in northern Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The vote has brought criticism from diverse sources including the Assad regime, Turkey, and the United States.
US State Department spokesperson, John Kirby, said: "We don't support self-ruled, semi-autonomous zones inside Syria. We just don't. What we want to see is a unified, whole Syria that has in place a government that is not led by (President) Bashar al-Assad that is responsive to the Syrian people. Whole, unified, nonsectarian Syria, that's the goal." While the U.S. has given strong support to the Kurdish PYD party they nevertheless hope for a unified Syria. Turkey considers the PYD terrorists and is angry at American support for them. The Kurds, with American help, have wrested considerable territory from the control of the Islamic State. The Kurds seem less concerned with replacing Assad than with consolidating power over areas they control.
The Kurds will establish what they call the "federal democratic system of Rojava- Northern Syria." Rojava is the Kurdish name for northern Syria. Officials said preparations were being made to elect a joint leadership and a 21 member committee which would prepare a "legal and political vision" for Rojava within the span of six months.
A document at a recent meeting detailed the areas of autonomy: "... the aim was to "establish democratic self-administered regions which run and organize themselves ... in the fields of economy, society, security, healthcare, education, defense and culture." The Kurds insist that the federation is not an attempt to secede from Syria but simply to gain autonomy.
Syrian rebels also criticized the Kurdish move, insisting they oppose all forms of federalism and want a powerful national government. Russia may not oppose the move — Russia has suggested that a federal system is one possible way of resolving the civil war.
The Syria state news agency, SANA, reported that a foreign ministry source said: "Any such announcement has no legal value and will not have any legal, political, social or economic impact as long as it does not reflect the will of the entire Syrian people."
Turkey worries that an autonomous Kurdish zone in neighboring Syria could fuel separatist sentiments among its own Kurdish minority. It considers the PYD to be an ally of the PKK which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey. A Turkish official said: : "Syria must remain as one without being weakened and the Syrian people must decide on its future in agreement and with a constitution. Every unilateral initiative will harm Syria's unity." The UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said:"All Syrians have rejected division (of Syria) and federalism can be discussed at the negotiations,"
The Kurds control an area stretching about 400 km or 250 miles along the northern Syrian-Turkish border. However, they also control a separate area that is separated from the main territories by about 100 kilometres or 60 miles most of it controlled by the Islamic State.
More about Kurds in Syria, PYD, Syrian civil war
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