Rojava: A Syrian Kurdish Democracy

rojava pyj kurdish female fighters

Kurdish Female Fighters outside of Kobani in Rojava

Rojava, the Kurdish region of Syria, is one of two Kurdish frontlines in the war with ISIS. The region is attracting a lot of worldwide attention for the Battle for Kobane, and the Kurdish democratic system that is emerging in an otherwise chaotic country.

Rojava is made up of three cantons. Afrin Canton in the West, Kobane Canton in the center, and Cizre Canton in the East. These three cantons are working in cooperation with many local and international players to push back the Islamic State.

Kurdish PYD Founding of the PYD

After the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) was banned in Turkey, many Kurds sympathetic to the PKK emigrated to the Syrian region known as Rojava. These Kurds are credited with founding the Kurdish organization in Syria called the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Similar in almost every respect to the PKK including promoting Democratic Confederalism, the PYD considers jailed PKK founder Öcalan as its ideological leader.

“Not only are the Kurds battling the Islamists (in Rojava), but they are also attempting to create a model of democracy that might actually bring stability to a war-torn region.”[1]

The Kurdish Supreme Committee

The Kurdish Supreme Committee (DBK) was established by PYD and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) as the governing body of Rojava in July 2012. The member board consists of an equal number of PYD and KNC members. In November 2013, the PYD announced an interim government divided into three non-contiguous autonomous areas or cantons, Afrin, Jazira and Kobani.

The DBK’s armed wing is the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Military service was declared compulsory in July 2014.[2] An all-female military unit, called the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) was also formed in Rojava.