Kurdistan and PYD flags sown together and waved on the streets of Kobane on the day of its liberation from Syrian forces in July 2012. Photo: dimoqrati.info
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Turkey rejected a unilateral declaration of autonomy over Syria’s Kurdish lands by the country’s dominant Kurdish group, while the larger opposition representing the Kurds said the move was an “anti-revolution and supportive of” the Damascus regime.
On Tuesday, leaders of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) announced an interim government over Syria’s Kurdish areas in the northeast. It said Kurdish, Arab and Christian leaders had agreed to turn Syrian Kurdistan – or Rojava – into three semi-independent provincial areas, within a larger Kurdish autonomy in the northeast.
“Such autonomy cannot be declared unilaterally," said Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu on Turkey’s NTV.
PYD leader Salih Muslim has visited Turkey several times over the past months for talks with Turkish officials about the status of Kurds in a future Syria.
PYD is the main Kurdish party in Syrian Kurdistan and its armed People’s Protection Units (YPG) seized control of most Kurdish areas after regime forces withdrew last year. Off-and-on since last summer the group has been in fierce battles with al-Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria’s civil war.
In July 2013, when the PYD made a similar move to declare autonomy and suggested it would draw up a constitution and hold elections within six months, Turkey had rejected the move.
Ankara believes that the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad is behind the PYD’s move for autonomy, aiming to create greater rifts within the Syrian opposition and undermine Ankara’s efforts to unite the opposition.
“It’s not possible to accept any de facto declaration of an autonomous entity in Syria, and that could only lead to further crisis,” Davutoglu told journalist in Ankara on July 19.
The Kurdish National Council, which is composed of 15 Kurdish parties, said it was not aware of the PYD’s decision to declare an interim government. It said the move did not conform to Kurdish aspirations for an independent homeland.
“The move has nothing to do with the aspirations of the Syrian people seeking to build a united independent state,” said a statement on the opposition website. It called the PYD’s move “an anti-revolution and supportive of the Assad regime.”
The mainstream Syrian opposition announced its own interim government at the end of a three-day meeting in Istanbul.