human rights watch

söndag 26 oktober 2014

Syria Update : Syrian Kurds’ Plan to Declare Autonomy Alarms Turkey and U.S.* WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN * 26/10/2914 *

Syria Update : Syrian Kurds’ Plan to Declare Autonomy Alarms Turkey and U.S.* WE HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN * 26/10/2914 *
this was announced 24th of July 2013 remember ?

may look back - and now look at the present stage ( Kobani )
does it ring `?

A reported plan by Syrian Kurds to declare an autonomous region inside
the borders of Syria has set off alarm bells in neighboring Turkey and
in Washington, where the Obama administration says it would be a
“highly provocative” move.

Throughout the Syrian civil war, outside governments supporting both
the regime and opposition have stressed that the country’s territorial
integrity must be safeguarded, amid concerns that it could fragment
along ethnic and sectarian lines.

The main concern has been the Sunni-Shi’ite divide (the opposition is
mostly Sunni; President Bashar Assad is an Alawite – a Shia sect – and
he is supported by Shi’ite Hezbollah and Iran), but the Kurdish factor
is another complication in the complex conflict.

Kurds, who comprise between 10 and 15 percent Syria’s 23 million
population, have for the past year enjoyed a level of autonomy in a
Kurdish-dominated area in north-west Syria. The regime withdrew its
troops from the towns last July, reportedly with an understanding that
Kurds would stay out of the civil war.

After that the Kurds focused on setting up local councils and
protection units, and mostly avoided antagonizing either the regime or
But growing tensions between Kurdish militia and al-Qaeda-linked
jihadist rebels including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIS) and the al-Nusrah Front erupted into fighting this month,
centering on Ras al-Ayn, a town on the Syria-Turkey border that was
controlled by al-Nusrah since last November but fell to the Kurds last week.

A secularist Syrian Kurdish militia called the Democratic Union Party
(PYD) announced plans for transitional self-government in the area
although it denied it was a bid to carve out an independent state.
Those denials did not assure the Turkish government, which worries
that autonomy for Kurds just across the Turkey-Syria border will boost
separatism among its own large Kurdish minority. The PYD is affiliated
to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that waged a bloody
separatist struggle in south-eastern Turkey for three decades until it
entered a peace process with Ankara last March.

“Turkey does not accept any formation of a de-facto region or the
cutting of ties with other regions [in Syria] until an elected Syrian
parliament is established, giving the political system its final shape,”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during a visit to Poland
on Tuesday.

Quoted by the official Anadolu news agency, he warned that if the
Syrian crisis starts to affect Turkey’s security, “Turkey has the right
to take any measures it deems necessary to protect its borders.”
Turkish media reported stepped-up military surveillance flights and special forces patrols along the border on Tuesday.

For Washington, both sides in the fighting in northern Syria are
problematic. The U.S. has designated both the al-Nusrah Front/al-Qaeda
and the PYD-affiliated PKK as foreign terrorist organizations, and the
Obama administration has frequently expressed strong support for Turkish
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s campaign against violent Kurdish

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the administration was
“very concerned by press reports indicating that the [PYD] might declare
an independent Kurdish region in Syria.”
“Such a declaration is highly provocative, as it will certainly
exasperate tensions between Arabs and Kurds and give excuse for
extremists to exploit the situation. So we’re also watching that and
we’re concerned about that as well.”

In a statement issued this week through a Europe-based office the PYD
accused al-Nusrah and ISIS of plotting attacks against Kurdish towns
to force Kurds to commit to “the jihadi and salafi path,” and said
their recent actions showed their claims to “spread freedom and
democracy” were false.

It accused the jihadists of “killing, slaughtering and beating every
person who disagrees with them” – the same policies as those of the

The PYD also urged outside countries to reconsider shipping weapons
to both the regime and rebels, arguing that the military assistance was
being misused and “the Syrian people pay the price.”

Arguably the world’s largest stateless nation, Kurds are scattered
across large parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, where alone they
enjoy an autonomous quasi-state – a relatively tranquil enclave in a
country largely torn by Sunni-Shi’ite violence. Some Kurds view the
“Arab spring” turmoil as an opportunity Kurds should exploit to advance a
campaign for a free Kurdistan.

In Arbil, Iraqi Kurd leader Massoud Barzani on Monday hosted
representatives from Kurdish parties based in Iraq, Iran, Syria and
Turkey and announced plans for a grand Kurdish congress there next month
to discuss developments across the region.

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