In Syria’s North Eastern Hasakeh province, Kurdish leaders announced plans to create a federal region in the North of the country as a new political template for peace.
Ankara is not amused, but still bombing the PYD Kurds in Syria. It wants to stop independence there, arguing the Kurds in Turkey could join as well. This old argument is not convincing: in Iraq-Kurdistan you have a stable Kurdish state and no negative impact on the Kurds in Turkey. On the contrary this region is a beacon of stability in Iraq.
A federal structure with more local power is needed in Syria to establish peace. This is good for Turkey too.
The Kurds must be invited to the Syria Peace Talks of the United Nations and not excluded, as Ankara demands until today.
As Syria enters its sixth year of violent civil war, members of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), who currently control Northern Syria, call for recognition as a federal region. However, in order to appease Turkey, Kurdish parties have been excluded from the UN peace talks in Geneva.
During the Syrian civil war the Kurds have proved themselves an effective fighting force, strengthening their hold on Northern Syria and establishing their own civil administration in an area along the Turkish border.
The PYD receives support from both Russia and the US as an ally in the battle against the Islamic State. A perversion, that NATO ally Turkey is bombing indirect NATO ally PYD in Syria.
In February Kurdish militia groups created outrage when they seized the area in the Northwest of the country. Now they want political recognition.
Nawaf Khalil of the PYD has said that his party is lobbying for a federal area that would represent all ethnic groups in the area, not just Kurds. However, a federal state could be a stepping stone to an independent Kurdish state: the long hypothesised Kurdistan.
The Kurdish people are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Middle East, comprising some 25 – 35 million people.
Despite this, the Kurds have never had their own homeland and instead occupy a large mountainous region stretching through Turkey, Syria and Iraq. They made up more than 10 percent of the pre-war Syrian population and have long been the victims of persecution by the Asaad regime.
Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria said “Syria and Iraq are artificially created states, and are, by all accounts, failed states. Since their inception they have promoted hate, death, and destruction.” Leaders say the federalisation of Syria could be a model for peace, representing all ethnic groups. However, a federal area could be the first step to the creation of an autonomous region like Iraqi Kurdistan.
The UN and Russian representatives have said that federalisation is one of many options being considered at the peace talks in Geneva. However, leaders of both the Asaad regime and the anti-Asaad oposition have spoken out in rejection of a federal Syria. The most violent opposition though has been from Turkey, who fear a strong Kurdish state on their border and who class the PYD as a terrorist organisation.
Turkey has been the victim of bombing from Kurdish groups, the most recent happened last Sunday, killing 37 in Ankara, and have retaliated with airstrikes on Kurdish targets in Northern Iraq. This and the success of Kurdish groups in Syria has lead to widespread fighting between the Turkish military and Kurdish rebels in the South East of the country near the Syrian border.
Despite the claims of the PYD for a federal region to bring peace to Syria, it seems they may instead have inspired groups to seek a new, independent Kurdish homeland. We may see a united Kurdistan rise from the rubble of this bloody civil war, but not without more bloodshed.