Kurdish-Arab alliance in Syria loses Arab block

The co-leader of a Kurdish-Arab political alliance in Syria resigned to object to the announcement of a "federal system" in the northern region.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The co-leader of a Kurdish-Arab political alliance in Syria resigned to object to the federal system in the northern region.

Syrian opposition figure Haytham Manna told AFP on Tuesday that he has withdrawn from the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), a Kurdish-Arab alliance based in northeast Syria that he co-chaired.

"I withdrew on March 19 from the presidency of the SDC and made it clear that I will not return until they rescind the March 17 declaration," Manna told AFP, referring to an announcement by Kurdish and allied groups of a federal region in northern Syria.

Haytham Manna, who is co-chairman of the SDC along with Kurdish activist Ilham Ahmed, had already condemned a decision on the 17th of March by several Kurdish parties, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to announce the federal system in northern Syria.

On March 18, Manna, who spoke on behalf of his political group, the Qamah Movement, a central group within the SDC, told Reuters, "We reject this one-sided initiative and ask them to retract it and work within the framework of the SDC."

The SDC, which groups Kurds, Arabs and others, was formed in December 2015 at a conference in northeastern Syria with the stated aim of promoting a secular, democratic vision for the country.

The SDC has a military force called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are fighting against the Islamic State (IS) north of Syria. The SDF includes some Arab, Turkmen and Armenian militias, as well as Free Syrian Army (FSA) units.

Although in press releases and general propaganda the SDF is an inclusive force, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) is the main element of the coalition and outnumbers all other groups.

PYD and other Syrian Kurdish parties forming a political coalition called the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) already operate a system of three "autonomous administrations" of Jazira, Kobani and Afrin in Syria's north, with independent police forces and schools. The federal system would unite these cantons under a single administrative unit.


Reporting by Hisham Arafat

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and Ava Homa