Syria Kurds declare autonomy ahead of Geneva II

Syria Kurds declare autonomy ahead of Geneva II
Wed Jan 22, 2014 08:01:42

Syrian Kurds have reportedly declared an autonomous provincial government in the country’s northern territory just ahead of the Geneva II peace talks.

Reports say a municipal council will run the territory’s affairs from one of three administrative districts. The body - The Cizire Canton of West (Syrian) Kurdistan - will have its own president and 22 ministries, including foreign affairs, defense, justice and education. Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian representatives will be appointed to each ministry. Kurdish, Arabic, and Syrian have been designated as the canton’s official languages. Elections will be held in four months, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Kurds have used the confusion and chaos of the Syrian conflict as an opportunity to assert more control over the northeastern area of the country.

The announcement came following a meeting of the Legislative Assembly of the Democratic Autonomous Government of Western Kurdistan, “attended by all members of the Assembly which is made up of 52 parties, civil society organizations, youth and women’s movements and 15 independent individuals,” Firat news agency reported.

The formulation of an autonomous governmental body follows requests - which were ultimately denied - for a Kurdish delegation at the Geneva II peace talks in Switzerland, separate from the Syrian government and opposition.

The dominant political party in Kurdish Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), blamed regional powers like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as the United States, for blocking its attempts to take part in the convention, which seeks to smooth tensions between warring factions fighting in the country.

In Syria, Kurds make up around one-tenth of the population. Since the outbreak of conflict in 2011, Kurds have largely had to fight on their own, as the Syrian government has focused on fighting against militants and extremist groups.

Some Kurdish parties will attend the Geneva talks as entities of the Western-backed National Coalition, though the PYD rejected adhering to any resolutions that are reached in Switzerland.


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