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Published On: Sat, Sep 23rd, 2017

Elections held in northern Syria’s predominantly Kurdish Rojava a.k.a. Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria

nsnbc : People in the cantons of northern Syria’s predominantly Kurdish Rojava Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria flokked to the polling stations on Friday, September 22, to elect commune co-chairs in Cizere, Afrin, and Firat.

Rojava election_Syria_Sep 22, 2017Polling stations were among others opened in the cantons of Qamishlo, Hasaka, Afrin, Dire Spi and Shehba. All polling stations opened at 08:00 in the morning and closed at 22:00 with the exception of Afrin where polling stations were kept pen a little longer, reportedly due to high voter turnout and a festive atmosphere.

12.421 candidates were running for the co-chair position in 3.732 communes. As per the High Commissary for Elections’ announcement, commune houses were used as polling stations.

The election is viewed with both optimism and skepticism. Neighboring Turkey protests against the prospect of a Kurdish entity on its border. The central government in Damascus, Syria, announced it would not tolerate attempts to violate Syria’s territorial integrity.

However, even those who would tend to support the “nation State” Syria or Iraq would admit that the region – based on the proven Kurdish model of democracy and equality – proposes an extremely interesting challenge and possible alternative to the post-Sykes-Picot Middle East with its rigid nation states, its arbitrarily drawn borders, its despotic governments and decades of wars – of course not entirely without geopolitical factors being at play.

Hasaka_Syria_Rojava_Communal elections, September 2017If there was one observable curiosity that marked this post-Sykes-Picot optimism, if might have been the fact that Arabs, Kurds, Muslims, Christians and others who came to the polling stations appeared to be happy about a chance to cast their ballot among peers, forgetting – if even just for a moment – the politics of guns, religious and ethic rivalries, and the decades of confrontational block politics in a region so rich in oil and gas that small sparks can ignite a major conflagration.

The communal elections were called by the current PYD dominated administration. PYD-led Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria announced that Friday’s communal elections will be followed by local elections on November 3, and parliamentary elections on January 1, 2018. The more Damascus and Baath Party – oriented Kurdish National Council (KNC, ENKS) boycotted the elections, describing them as “illegitimate.”

In December 2016, the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria was declared by the founding members of the self-declared Kurdish enclave in northern Syria. This move was then also rejected by the Syrian government. The government in Damascus recognized the PYD’s and YPG/YPJ’s struggle against ISIS and their achievements but denounced the planned elections or steps to establish a Kurdish enclave as illegal and unacceptable.

The PYD-dominated regional authorities – recognizing other ethnic groups and probably attempting not to create more PR quagmires between Ankara and Washington, announced they had dropped the word Rojava, a Kurdish word for Syrian Kurdistan, from the official name of the federation of northern Syria.

CH/L – nsnbc 23.09.2017

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