Kurdish canton in Syria unilaterally declares autonomy

Cizîre Transitional Executive Assembly fulfils a decision taken in November for the whole Western Kurdistan · A transitional government has been formed, parliamentary election to be held within four months · Local representatives declare Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac as Cizîre's official languages

A Kurdish-majority region in Western Kurdistan (Syria) has today made history after unilaterally declaring autonomy from Syria. The Transitional Executive Assembly of Cizîre canton has today met in order to proclaim self-government, after the Democratic Union Party (PYD, Kurdish acronym, a party closely linked to Abdullah Öcalan's PKK) announced in November that all Kurdish areas in Syria's north would declare themselves to be autonomous without waiting for a political agreement with the Syrian Arab parties or coalitions.

Earlier this month, PYD said that a federal Constitution for Western Kurdistan had been approved, under which three autonomous cantons would be established (from west to east: Efrin, Kobani and Cizîre). According to PYD, federal Western Kurdistan will continue to be part of a future, decentralized Syria.

Cizîre will have a government made up of 22 ministries. This transitional government is set to lead Cizîre to its first parliamentary election within four months. 101 deputies will then be elected.

It has been revealed that the three official languages ​​of the canton of Cizîre will be Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac.

Cizîre occupies the north-eastern region of Syria. It roughly corresponds to the northern part of the Al Hasakah province. The region that will today be proclaimed as autonomous is militarly controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, which has been fighting for months Islamist rebel groups opposed to both Kurdish autonomy and the government of Bashar al-Assad.

No Kurdish seat in Geneva II

Kurds are advancing towards unilateral self-government after having been excluded from Geneva II peace conference, in which the Syrian Government, the Syrian opposition and several regional and world powers will meet with the stated aim of moving towards a solution to the conflict. PYD has been asking that Kurds had their own seat in Geneva II, but in the end they have not been granted independent representation. As a result, reports say that Kurds could ignore any agreements that might be reached during the meeting.

Meanwhile, another Syrian Kurdish political bloc (the Kurdish National Council, KNC) was yesterday still trying to be granted its own seat in the conference. If that is not possible, KNC could eventually accept to attend the meeting under the umbrella of Syrian opposition coalitions. KNC is opposed to unilateral steps towards Kurdish autonomy.

(Picture: people in Western Kurdistan welcome the declaration of autonomy / image by @Hevallo.)