Skip to main content

Kurdish Group Gaining Autonomy In Northern Syria

The Democratic Union Party is investing in autonomous institutions in Syrian Kurdistan while maintaining a relationship with the Syrian regime, Andrea Glioti reports from Qamishli.
Syrian Kurds practise reading the Kurdish language at a school in Derik, Al-Hasakah October 31, 2012. Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani warned Kurds in Syria against being sucked into the "fires of discord," urging them to preserve Kurdish unity as tensions between rival factions threaten to spillover into violence. Syria's Kurds see the war ravaging their country as an unprecedented opportunity to gain the kind of freedoms enjoyed by their ethnic kin in neighbouring Iraq, where they live autonomously

QAMISHLI, Syria — Bilingual signs, “Western Kurdistan” (Rojava in Kurdish) on car license plates, Kurdish security forces (Asayish), Kurdish courts, municipalities, flags, unions and schools teaching Kurdish. This is the new look of the Kurdish-majority Syrian northern regions, the outcome of the withdrawal of regime security forces in July 2012 and the result of a delicate coexistence between Baathist and Kurdish institutions.

Syrian Kurds now have the chance to reap the benefits from the stalemate between the regime and the Arab opposition. But all this would not have been possible without a certain degree of connivance with the regime by the main Kurdish militia on the ground — the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Regardless of the de facto autonomy achieved and the growing popularity of the PYD, some fear the authoritarian features of the party’s agenda.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.

Subscribe

Only $100 for annual access.