Young Arab Spring Blog

Kurdish Initiative for Democratization in Syria: Notes from the Istanbul Meeting

Yasin Duman*

The Kurdish Initiative was founded on May 8, 2014 by nine parties and organizations from Rojava (West Kurdistan) and declared that their aim is to unite all the parties in Syrian National Coalition to work in cooperation for a democratic and political solution to the Syrian civil war 1.

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The initiative includes Kurdish Left Party (PÇKS), Democratic Union Party (PYD), Kurdish Democratic Left Party (PÇDKS), Kurdistan Communist Party, Kurdistan Liberal Union Party (PYLK), Kurdistan Green Party, Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdish Democratic Peace Party (PADKS) and TEV-DEM (Movement of Democratic Society). A delegation of the initiative came to Istanbul to meet representatives of the parties and individuals in the SNC in Istanbul. After the meeting with the SNC members, the delegation held a press meeting on June 20 in Cezayir Meeting Hall in Istanbul and answered questions regarding the meeting and the next steps that the initiative plans to take. We participated the event as POMEAS and listened to the delegates who were Abdulsamed Ahmad (Co-president of Rojava People's Assembly), Çinar Salih (Spokesperson of TEV-DEM Diplomacy Committee), Muhammedê Mûsê (General Secretary of Syrian Kurdish Left Party) and Beşîra Derwêş (Executive Member of the PYD).

One of the top questions was on whether the initiative wanted to meet the SNC members after the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) attacked and seized Mosul city of Iraq. Yet Beşîra Derwêş stated that the initiative planned to have this meeting at the very beginning of the declaration and told the attendees that parties in the SNC confessed they need each other against such organizations attacking almost all the parties, nations and minorities in Syria 2. The initiative delegates agreed on the idea that SNC members had a better understanding of what the initiative aims to do and agreed to have further meetings for cooperation.

The initiative recieved many questions on the path that Rojava Democratic Autonomies in Efrîn, Kobanê and Cezîre get organized in terms of politics, economy, and social relations and share of resources and political representation of different groups of the society. The delegation told that there are members of different constituents in all the administrative bodies and they also have their own NGOs. Rojava is going to hold elections soon and people coming to the press meeting wondered whether those constitutes will be able represent their societies in the parliaments. Co-chair of Rojava Peoples' Assembly Ahmad noted that there is minimum 10% quota that means it is possible for them to have more than 10 % of total seats in the parliament. The electoral threshold is going to be 2 % and the parties that were illegal during the Baath Regime can register to the Rojava Supreme Council of Election to run for the elections. Therefore political participation is guaranteed and social and security responsibilities are shared by the constituents of Rojava which precludes any possible tension or conflict deriving from inferiority or superiority of any group and also makes sure that all the groups can join the process of reconstruction of Rojava.

1 "Kurdish Initiative proposes a project for democratization in Syria," ANHA, May 8, 2014, http://www.hawarnews.com/english/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1494:kurdish-initiative-proposes-a-project-for-democratization-in-syria&catid=1:news&Itemid=2.

2 "IŞİD'i durdurmanın yolu Rojava modeli," ANF, June 20, 2014, http://ajansafirat.net/news/guncel/isid-i-durdurmanin-yolu-rojava-modeli.htm.

*Research Assistant at POMEAS.