Officials with the Syrian Kurdish forces say they intend to declare a “democratic federal system” immediately in the territory they control across northern Syria, formalizing their de facto autonomy over a broad swathe of the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. The official announcement is scheduled for Thursday.
The PYD, the primary political force in the region, and a political wing of the YPG, the Kurdish militia in the region, says the decision was taken after consultation with regional minorities, and says autonomy is the best way to protect Syria’s territorial integrity into the future.
That likely won’t sit well with the major rebel factions in the ongoing Syrian Civil War, which have angrily rejected the notion of federalism in recent comments, envisioning a powerful, heavily-centralized state with themselves at the helm after the war.
Turkey, which attacks YPG forces intermittently, is also furious at the announcement, with their foreign ministry insisting they would never recognize Kurdish autonomy in the region. And even though the plan appears modeled on what the US imposed in Iraqi Kurdistan during the 2003 occupation, the Obama Administration has also expressed opposition, saying they oppose any autonomy for Syria’s Kurds.