Federal region of "Rojava-North Syria" proclaimed

Body declares itself autonomous, claims it represents Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen, Assyrian, Chechen, Armenian communities · "Freedom of women" is the "essence" of the new system · Syrian regime, opposition reject declaration

Delegates in Rimêlan.
Delegates in Rimêlan. Author: ANHA News
Kurdish and other ethnic and national groups' delegates today approved the declaration of a self-governing, "federal democratic system," under the name "Rojava-North Syria." The new system, the declaration reads, has in the "freedom of women" its "essence". The establishment of the self-governing body is utterly rejected by the Syrian regime and opposition and also by Turkey.

The principles of the new administration are based on those of democratic confederalism, as devised by Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) founder and leader Abdullah Öcalan.

The declaration further states that the new federal region does not put in question the unity of the Syrian state. The new system, the text says, aims to "overcome" state borders in order to be implemented in other parts of the Middle East.

In the delegates' meeting, held in the town of Rimêlan (West Kurdistan or Rojava, Syria), 31 members of the Executive Board of the new self-styled region have been elected. The body will also have its own Constituent Assembly, to which a co-presidency made up by a man (an Arab, Mansur el-Selum, co-chairman of the Girê Sipî Assembly Executive) and a woman (a Kurd, Hediye Yusuf, co-chair of the Cizîre Canton) has been appointed.

Speaking earlier this week, several Kurdish officials had announced the adoption of the new system of self-government, which will be applied to all areas under the control of mainly Kurdish militias YPG and YPJ and their mostly Arab allies in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Participants at the conference include delegates from the Kurdish-majority cantons of Efrîn, Kobanê and Cizîre, the TEV-DEM (an assembly organization of the civil society), various sheiks, and members of the YPG, YPJ and SDF.

The three cantons, proclaimed by the Kurdish movement in January 2014, will likely be subsumed into the new self-governing body. However, how the new region will internally organize itself as regards the autonomy of its territories has not been established. Media reports suggest that the new region will be governed under a federal system that grants autonomy to its components, whether regional or ethnic.

According to the Kurdish movement, not only Kurds will be represented in the Rojava-North Syria bodies, but also other groups inhabiting the area. ANHA news agency says delegates in Rimêlan are representing there not only the Kurds of Rojava, but also Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians and Chechens.

The Kurdish movement also argues that its federal model could also be introduced to the rest of Syria, turning the whole country into a federal country. The idea has repeatedly been suggested by Salih Muslim, leader of the main Rojava Kurdish party, the PYD, for example in this Nationalia interview.

PYD excluded from Geneva talks

The proclamation of the autonomous region coincides in time with the PYD's exclusion from the ongoing Syria peace talks in Geneva.

The Kurdish National Council (KNC), a Syrian Kurdish group opposed to the PYD, has indeed been invited to the talks. The KNC, however, has no militia on the ground to control any territory or any administration.

Analysts suggest today's declaration should be understood as a PYD attempt -which maintains close ties with the PKK- to show itself as an actor able to freely act on the ground irrespective from the fact that it has been excluded from the talks.

Both Bashar Al-Assad's Syrian government and much of the Syrian opposition have rejected Rojava's federalist declaration alike.

US State Department announced Washington would not be supporting the declaration, but at the same time said it would not oppose the establishment of a federal system if so chosen by Syrians.

The Russian government a few days ago suggested that federalism could be a solution for the Syrian conflict.

Both the US and Russia have repeatedly lent military support to Rojava in recent months. Both powers believe that the Kurdish militias are an effective force to turn back Islamic State advance on the ground.