Syrian Kurds reject Assad’s centralism, demand federalism

Assad speaking to Russian reporters in Damascus. File photo

Published by ARA News 31 March 2016

ERBIL – Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday said that the Syrian Kurds want unity. However, Syrian Kurdish politicians told ARA News that the Kurds want federalism, not centralism.

“Most Kurds want to live in a unified Syria, under a central system, not in a federal system, in the political sense,” Bashar al-Assad told Russian state media on Wednesday.

“So, we shouldn’t confuse some of the Kurds who want a federal system, on the one hand, with all the Kurds on the other. There might be other very small constituencies, not only the Kurds, who seek federalism,” he added.

According to Assad, the Syrian people oppose the idea of federalism. “I don’t believe that if it was put to the vote, will be endorsed by the Syrian people,” he said.

So far, both the Syrian opposition and the Syrian government have rejected any form of federalism. But in general, most Kurds agree on federalism. Nevertheless, there are still major disagreements between the main Kurdish parties, the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) over power-sharing in Rojava–Syria’s Kurdish region.

“Of course the Kurds want federalism from the beginning of the ongoing uprising and now it is the right time to practice it,” Idris Nassan, a former official of the PYD-linked Kobane administration,told ARA News.

“Assad delays his fight against the Kurds until he finishes his battles with the opposition forces,” Nassan said.

“Assad refers to centralism now to say that Kurds are a part of his regime and they do everything for him. This has two goals; firstly to prove to the opposition that Kurds are his supporters. And secondly to show that Kurds will have some rights under his rule,” he added.

Speaking to ARA News, Dr. Kamiran Haj Abdo, member of the Foreign Relations office of the Kurdish National Council (KNC), said that federalism is “the only solution”, although the Syrian opposition the KNC is part of still rejects it.

“The Syrian war has created hatred and deep hostilities between different units of the society, which makes it almost impossible that all of these social groups exist in a state governed by only one side,” he said.

“The only guarantee that the various components of the Syrian society stay together is the freely chosen unity in a state which provides on an individual and a collective level freedom and equality for everyone,” Abdo told ARA News.

“Federalism has been our [KNC’s] demand since the very beginning. We said it before and we will keep on working for federalism because it constitutes the most suitable solution for Syria,” he stressed. “It corresponds to the historical and geographical reality and it is the only guarantee that Syria remains united and its cultural diversity preserved.”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg

Source: ARA News