PYD: Raqqa could be part of Syria’s ‘Kurdish federation’
REUTERS photoThe northern Syrian city of Raqqa could join a decentralized system of government being set up by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies once it is freed from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Syrian Kurdish politician said March 27.
Raqqa, ISIL’s main urban base of operations in Syria, is the focus of an ongoing campaign by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which mainly consist of Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants.
Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the political wing of the YPG, said it would be up to the people of Raqqa to decide their future once the city is freed from ISIL, but he thinks the city will join the “democratic federal” system.
The YPG already controls swathes of northern Syria, where Kurdish groups and their allies are working to establish a decentralized system of government in areas captured from ISIL, which declared a “caliphate” that has been centered on Raqqa.
The political project is causing deep alarm in Turkey, which sees the PYD, and its armed wing YPG, as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and considers them as terrorists.
“We expect [this] because our project is for all Syria ... and Raqqa can be part of it,” Muslim told Reuters said in a telephone interview. “Our only concern is that the people of Raqqa are the ones who take the decision on everything.”
The “democratic federal” system aims to build on three autonomous areas set up by the main Kurdish groups in the north. The blueprint for the new system of government was approved by a constituent assembly in December 20146.
Turkey has repeatedly said it would not allow a “Kurdish corridor” in Syria’s north and warned that it would intervene militarily if such efforts continue. The Euphrates Shield Operation, launched last August by the Turkish military, targeted both ISIL and YPG militants across Turkey’s southern border.
Muslim added that Raqqa needed to be in “friendly hands” otherwise it would form a “danger to all Syria, particularly northern Syria, the federal system of northern Syria, the areas of self-administration.”