Syrian Kurds declare autonomy
Kurds in Syria's northern regions have increasingly clashed with jihadist groups particularly near the Syria-Iraq border (Azad Lashkari/Reuters)
Kurds in Syria's northeast region announced Tuesday that they have formed a transitional autonomous administration, according to Agence France-Presse.
"Today is an important day in the history of the Kurdish people. What has been announced today is the beginning of implementing an interim administration in the areas of West Kurdistan," said Shirzad Izidi, a spokesman for the People's Council of Western Kurdistan, a Syrian Kurdish group.
Tuesday's announcement was made following talks in the predominantly Kurdish town of Qamishli, where local assembly and representatives to a Kurdish regional executive body had met to set the guidelines for the new autonomous region. The group has been further tasked with preparing local and general elections as well as political, military, security and economic issues.
The announcement coincides with recent efforts in Turkey to strengthen Kurdish rights as well as developing independence bids in Iraq's own autonomous Kurdish region. However, not all of the major Kurdish groups have signed onto the declaration, which may undermine the durability of Tuesday's declaration.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) has been the main force behind the development of the transitional authority, but the Kurdish National Council (KNC), that "includes a broad spectrum of parties" according to AFP, has not been involved in the process.
"I think that such a rushed, one-sided move will be seen as... an obstacle to the Syrian opposition. I think the (PYD) is moving in the wrong direction by individually announcing the local administration," said KNC member, Nuri Brimo.
The Kurdish regions in Syria have largely been administered by local Kurdish councils since regime forces withdrew from the areas in mid-2012 in a move by the government to discourage Kurds from aligning with the opposition. In recent months, Kurds have clashed with jihadists in the aforementioned northern areas.
Kurds represent approximately 15 percent of the Syrian population.