Miray Aslan
Turkey
Media, Politics

WHY SHOULD THE KURDS HAVE A FEDERAL REGION IN SYRIA?

Syrian Kurds declared federal region in Northern Syria. Here are a few simple reasons of why the Kurds should have an autonomous state in Syria.
1 April 2016

It is no secret that the Kurds, whether in Syria, Iraq, Iran or Turkey are longing and fighting for an independent homeland after suffering from respective governments for decades. Similar to Iraqi Kurds, the Syrian Kurds may have the advantage of the existence of a difficult situation in which the Syrian government army is fighting against Salafi extremists and not the Kurds. Around 200 delegates from various organizations of Syrian Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmens, Arabs and Armenians announced on March 17 that they are establishing the Federation of North Syria, known as Rojava (West in Kurdish, a reference to the Western Kurdistan). 

The Syrian government immediately rejected the move. Russia is not ready as yet to officially support the decision of a Kurdish federal state.  The Americans have already voiced that they would not support any federal region in Syria. Turkey is angry with the move as Ankara regards the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as the Syrian wing of PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey), which Turkey and its allies U.S. and E.U. consider a terrorist organization. No country yet officially supports the decision of Syria's Kurds. However, I claim that Federal Rojava is going to be recognized sooner or later as it is needed for the security and unity of Syria, and it is required for global security and more.

1. TIME TO REMEMBER THE "FORGOTTEN KURDS."

The Kurds of Syria which are estimated to be around 10 to 15 percent of Syrian population, have been isolated from the rest of the world as they have been stuck between Turkey and the Syrian Regime for decades. Use of the Kurdish language has been prohibited, the Kurds were denied from having Syrian citizenship, so most of them could not attend schools, nor could they have passports or other formal documents. Most of them are known as the "Forgotten Kurds" in addition to being faced with the Arabization policy. So they suffered much at the hands of the Syrian regime… The Kurds were against Bashar al-Assad in the early day of the Syrian Civil War, but after months as the government army was not fighting against the Kurds, both the government and the Kurds have been fighting against a common enemy: Radical Salafi extremists.

For the Kurds, the big shift happened when Kurdish city Kobane came under siege by ISIL in September 2014. The Democratic Union Party's (PYD) military wings, the People's Protection Units (YPG), and its female branch the Women's Protection Units (YPJ) have been leading the fight against ISIL. The battle captured the world's attention. Finally, with the US-led alliance YPG defeated ISIS in January. This was an important victory and the first step to building an autonomous state. However, as the war continued, Kurds have reported having lost more than 4,000 fighters. No one can deny the price that the Kurds paid. So, it is a right for the Forgotten Kurds to have their federal state as part of Syria.

2. SECURITY OF SYRIA: MILITANTS  OR "TERRORISTS"?

Moreover, a federal state of the Kurds is a must for the security of future Syria.  Nowadays the Syrian Kurdish militants are well trained – equipped and experienced – just like a professional army. Keep in mind, they are those who could win a victory against the enemy of the world, ISIL. However, if the Kurdish Autonomy is denied and YPG and PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, Iranian Kurds) militants are not legalized but are designated as "terrorists," then they are going to fight until they reach their goal which means the beginning of a new war in Syria. Meanwhile, if the federal state recognized them then all the Kurdish militants are going to fight against the terrorists for the security of Rojava as well as of Syria. 

3. UNITY OF SYRIA

The federal system is the only way to rebuild the unity of Syria and to prevent a split of the country as under federalism democracy and equality will be guaranteed.  The delegates who have announced the federal Kurdish State stated that "federalism should be the future not only for northern Syria or the Kurdish regions but Syria in general." Beside that, Kurdish People's Protection Units  (YPG) have declared that the federal system is going to allow the people to manage their lives politically, socially and administratively in a convenient way. The same applies to Switzerland and Russia. Beside that in late of February both Russia and U.S gave a sign for federalism. Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov announced federalism is a possible solution for Syria and US Secretary of state John Kerry stated that "partition might be Plan B for Syria."  As the Geneva talks were useless, the move of Syrian Kurds is the alternative to re-establish peace in Syria as a step that is part of a future democratic federal Syria.

4. GLOBAL SECURITY

No doubt, Kurds are more friendly to the West than Turks and Arabs. Surprisingly  westerners are as friendly to the Kurds, as many individual Americans and Europeans have joined to fight against the Islamic State.   On the other hand, it has been proved that Turkey had supported the Syrian opposition and it is no longer a secret that from all around the world people come to Turkey to cross to Syria and join ISIL or al-Nusra Front. Today ISIL fighters come back from Syria by the same route. First, they come to Turkey, and then they spread terrorist attacks in other countries. Syria's Kurds have been effectively in control of most the territory along the Syrian-Turkish border. The formal federal Kurdish State beyond the border will cut the way of ISIL fighters who cross the border easily and will trap ISIL leaders, so a Kurdish federal state is important from the perspective of global security.

5. END THE KURDISH-PHOBIA

The dream of the Kurds has been a nightmare for the Turkish State as Turkey regards the existence of a Kurdish state on its border as a threat to its security. Turkey fears gains of Syrian Kurds as an autonomous state would inspire similar ambitions among its Kurdish minority numbering 22.5 million of the country's 78 million population.  The head of PYD Salih Muslim repeatedly said that the link between PYD and PKK is just on a philosophic level. Beside that, both Russia and U.S. consider Kurdish YPG forces as a powerful ally in the fight against ISIL and other radical extremists. After US officials had traveled to northern Syria to meet with YPG members, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Washington "Is it me who is your partner or terrorists in Kobane." However,  U.S. officials repeatedly explained that they see PYD and YPG as reliable partners in the fight against ISIL. "The PYD is a different group than the PKK legally, under United States' law," U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said.

Turkey never supported Syrian Kurds, but at least, it allowed Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces through its territory to help YPG forces to defend the Kurdish town Kobane from ISIL. But after tensions escalated between the state and the Kurds in Turkey, Erdogan's government seems to have lost its head and it acts emotionally, once again designated the PYD and YPG as terrorist groups. This leads to negative consequences for the entire world. Anyway, the Kurdish federal state will make Turkey end its Kurdish-Phobia.

By the way are you Kurdish-Phobic? What do you think is better for the security of Syria and the world: a new war between the Kurds and the Syrian regime or a federal Kurdish State?

Opinions