HASAKAH, SYRIA — Syria’s Kurds on Thursday declared a federal region in areas under their control in the north of the country, a move likely to anger neighboring Turkey.
More than 150 delegates from Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian and other parties including Armenians, meeting in northeast Syria, agreed to create a “federal system” unifying territory run by Kurds across several Syrian provinces.
“We will preserve the oneness of the Syrian land and the right of all elements living under the system of federalism [in Syria Kurdistan],” Mansour al-Salum, head of the Federalism System Administration Council in Rojava-Northern Syria, told a press conference following the declaration of the federal system in the town of Rmeilan in Haskah province.
“We had a successful experience with the system of canton in the past and this decree of federalism system will help resolve issues in Syria,” he added.
The three cantons stretch along Syria’s northern border with Turkey and are known from west to east as Afrin, Kobane, and Jazire.
The Kurds, who enjoy US military support, were excluded from the restarted Syrian peace talks at Geneva.
“The Geneva talks will not succeed without us. We are on the ground, fighting Daesh (IS), protecting our region, and running its affairs,” Kurdish delegate Aldar Khalil told AFP.
“All these factors make it difficult for us to fit into the Syrian equation. We are committed to a federal system,” Khalil said.
The Syrian Kurds have notably been making an outreach to minorities who live in areas they control. Such as Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen and Armenians. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which they helped form last October consists of many members from these communities and while still a Kurdish-majority fighting force about 40% of its ranks are made-up of non-Kurds.
Syria’s Kurds have also expanded their territory in the fight against ISIS. Most notably when joining the cantons of Kobani and Jazira through Tal Abyad last summer. Subsequently Tal Abyad was given special autonomy status within Syria Kurdistan.
Statement issued by the Constituent Founding Council for the Federal Democratic System of Rojava/Northern Syria
To the Syrian, regional, and global public:
In response to the appeal made by the General Coordination of Democratic Self-Administration Areas (Al Jazira, Kobane, and Afrin), representatives of all political forces, parties, and social actors in the cantons of Rojava and in the areas liberated from terrorist forces met on 16 and 17 March 2016. There we, the Founding Council, decided on a comprehensive political vision for the management system for Rojava/Northern Syria. This system can serve as a model for the rest of Syria and provide a resolution for the whole Syrian crisis.
We remember with appreciation and respect the martyrs of our people, who made courageous sacrifices and wrote with their blood the greatest historic and heroic resistance. It is they who have brought our people to the milestone where we are today.
The aforementioned meeting resulted in the following decisions.
1.- A future Syria is for all Syrians, which is what the democratic federal system is achieving at the base with all social components.
2.- We hereby establish a federal democratic system for Rojava/Northern Syria.
3.- The co-presidents were elected by the Founding Council and supported by 31 executive council members.
4.- The organizing committee was assigned the task of preparing a social contract and a comprehensive political and legal perspective for this system within six months.
5.- The transitional judicial institution that embodies the democratic federal system will be issued by the Founding Council, which is an interim administration, pending general elections under the supervision and control of the United Nations.
6.- Women’s freedom is essential to the federal democratic system. Women have the right to equal participation and have decision-making responsibilities in relation to female issues. Women will be represented as equals in all social and political aspects of life.
7.- The people and communities living in the federal democratic system can develop political, economic, social, cultural, and democratic relations with whomever they see fit. They can share their beliefs and culture with the people and communities on a regional and international level, provided that this relationship does not interfere with the objectives and interests of the federal democratic system.
8.- The regions liberated by democratic forces from terrorist organisations shall become a part of the federal democratic system of Rojava/Northern Syria in an appropriate way.
9.- The federal democratic system’s goal, on the regional level, is to achieve a democratic union in the Middle East as well as democratic progress among all peoples who live in the Middle East, in all fields such as politics, economy, culture, and society.If we cut through the national borders of the state, we can live in peace and security with one another.
10.- The realization of a federal democratic system shall take place within a sovereign Syria.
To all people in Syria, Kurdistan, and Rojava, all groups and all social classes:
We are living today in a historic phase and critical circumstances. Today Syria is experiencing the worst tragedy in its history. Millions of people have been displaced, and hundreds of thousands have been killed. The infrastructure of Syria has suffered immense damage. In spite of this, we are witnessing an advanced experience in Rojava, which is protected by the blood of martyrs and by the devoted successes of all. Great gains have been achieved in this period. This is a real opportunity to build a federal democratic system. We are confident that this system will be a model for a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Based on the decisions that we have taken, we call at the outset on women, who represent a new and free life, as well as young people, communities, workers, and all other social sectors to join this federal democratic system and organize and establish federal democratic systems. We call on all progressive human and democratic forces to support our efforts.
Long live our people’s determination, their coexistence, and their unity.
Founding Council of the Federal Democratic System of Rojava/Northern Syria
17 March 2016