Democracy in Kurdistan Op-Eds Rojava US–Kurdish Relations

Op-Ed: U.S. Must Not Abandon People of Rojava

salih muslim

Earlier this month, Salih Muslim Muhammed, the co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, authored an op-ed in the Huffington Post. Read the excerpts below and visit Huffington post to read the whole article.

What is Rojava?

Rojava is a self-governance system in northern Syria that was established in 2013 by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). Demographically, Rojava is mainly Kurdish, but has seen a recent influx of more than a million refugees, many who are non-Kurdish. Geographically, Rojava is made up of three cantons, or geographical regions: Jazira (Cizre), Kobani and Afrin.

The cantons of Jazira and Kobani were recently connected through the liberation of Tel Abyad, a border town that was held by the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIL. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes helped the PYD liberate this border town from ISIL.

In his op-ed, Salih Muslim claims that the Kurds in Rojava have recently been accused of “false allegations,” including cooperating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and ethnic cleansing. Muslim vehemently denies these allegations, saying:

In reality, PYD is seeking to crush ISIL, end totalitarian regime in Syria and be helpful in building a decentralized and viable democratic system that promotes human rights and respects its neighbors.

What is the PYD?

The PYD is a pro-Kurdish political party in Syria that is responsible for the formation of Rojava. The two co-chairpersons of the party are required to be male and female. The current chairpersons are Salih Muslim and Asya Abdullah.

The armed wing of the PYD are the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. In his op-ed, Salih Muslim describes the YPG as “military units that are inclusive to all people regardless of religion, gender or ethnicity.” These units have been primarily responsible for defending Rojava against ISIL assaults, including the siege of Kobani.

The PYD also has an all-female brigade known as the Women’s Protection Unit, or YPJ. This all-female unit is fighting on the front lines against ISIL, and you can learn more about their daily lives here.

Why Should the U.S. Support Rojava?

While Salih Muslim admits that Rojava is far from perfect, he says that they are willing to improve. He says:

We have repeatedly called on international organizations to visit Rojava to assess our needs in terms of the basic living services and humanitarian aid. We also welcome U.S. diplomats to visit Rojava and make objective assessments. We are determined to transfer our region to a transparent democracy that respects the rule of law and gender equality.

The United States’ Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, has recently applauded the PYD’s People Protection Units (YPG) for their effectiveness as a partner against ISIL. U.S.-led coalition airstrikes are still being conducted with the help of YPG units on the ground, but no official political relationship has yet been established between the PYD and the U.S. government.

[To Read More Visit Huffington Post]

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