As Syrian battlefield gets (even more) complicated, Western Kurdistan passes federal-style Constitution

Kurdish Constituent Assembly approves own parliament and government for Western Kurdistan · Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac are declared official languages · Kurdish militia fights Islamic State of Iraq and Levant militants, who are also in conflict with several Syrian Islamist groups

Syrian battlefield is now further complicated as several forces opposing the Bashar al-Assad regime have declared war between them. At the beginning of this year, Syrian Sunni Islamist groups have engaged in fighting against Al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. ISIL has been strengthening its position in North Eastern Syria, where its has started to enforce Sharia. In addition to these groups, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) also continues to fight for control over the country. FSA is linked to the Syrian National Coalition (the main political opposition group to Al-Assad). And in Syria's North, the Kurds are also holding their own militia, YPG, which is protecting by military means the institutional building that Kurds are trying to raise in Western Kurdistan. Syrian Kurds have this week adopted their own Constitution, with the stated aim of achieving an autonomous Kurdistan within a would-be federal Syria.

Main Kurdish party in Syria PYD's website announced on January 6th that the Western Kurdistan Constituent Assembly had passed a Western Kurdistan Constitution. Kurdish delegates have agreed to write in it that Western Kurdistan is an autonomous territory of Syria, made out of three cantons -in fact, this had already been announced in November-, and that it will be based on the principles of democracy, equality and protection of human rights and freedoms. The Constituent Assembly argues this model can only be valid within a decentralized and democratic Syria, and thus the Kurdish delegates are ahead of the Syrian opposition, which has not yet agreed on what model of state it wants for Syria.

Insisting on equality in the broadest sense of the word, the new Constitution incorporates the principle of full participation of women in Western Kurdistan's political and social life, and also specifies that the country will officially be multilingual. Thus, in Canton Cizîr (Easternmost region of Western Kurdistan), the Assembly has decided that official languages will be Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac. Western Kurdistan, under this Constitution, will have its own government and parliament with legislative powers.

Fighting between YPG and the Islamic State

And while Kurdish delegates explain the adoption of the Constitution, YPG militia continues to face -for weeks now- ISIL fighters, especially in the area south of Qamişlo (see map to locate this town, near the border with Turkey). The fact that other Islamist groups have decided to attack ISIL positions could benefit the YPG in their own struggle, but it is too early to say how long the various Islamic factions will be willing to fight each other. In fact, the Al-Nusra Front (another Syrian Islamist group) is trying to cement a truce among the combatants. On the horizon, they have a desire to stop intra-Sunni Islamist fighting, in order not to give wings to Al-Assad soldiers, whose support base lays mainly among Syria's Shiite community.