11/13/2013, 00.00
SYRIA -TURKEY
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Syrian Kurds announce the creation of their autonomous region

The decision follows military successes against jihadist groups, giving Kurds control of the border with Iraq. Ankara reacts with irritation, concerned about its own Kurdish question.

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Syria's tragic situation is getting even more complicated. The country's Kurds have announced the "formation of a transitional civil administration for the area of Western Kurdistan-Syria."

Yesterday's announcement by the Kurdish Democratic Union (PYD) was made in Qamishli, north-eastern Syria, and comes after Kurdish forces successfully seized border posts with Iraq, hitherto occupied by jihadist groups.

In July, Kurdish leaders had already announced plans to create a provisional government in the region after Syrian government forces decided to pull out a year ago to prevent Kurds from joining the rebels.

Syrian Kurds represent 10-15 per cent of the country's population, and are concentrated in the country's north-eastern Syria, next to Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Language, culture and a desire for a state of their own connects people in all three areas (four if we consider Iran's Kurdish region).

Because of such aspirations, Kurds have been oppressed by all these states at one time or another. However, whilst Iran and Syria have usually cracked down on Kurds, their brethren in Iraq exercise a de facto and de jure level of autonomy that comes near independence.

In Turkey, home to 18-20 million Kurds, the Kurdish issue is very much central to the political debate. For decades, Ankara has in fact sought to curb Kurdish ambitions, especially their desire for unity.

More recently, Turkish authorities started building a wall on the border with Syria in what is being seen as an attempt to divide the Kurdish areas.

Last night, in his first statement after the declaration of a provisional administration in Syrian Kurdistan, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu accused the PYD of "not keeping its promise."

"We told them to avoid a de facto administration declaration that could divide Syria," said Davutoğlu as he referred to autonomy talks held this summer with PYD leader Saleh Muslim.

For Ankara, this is complex issue given its impact at home and on the role it wants to play in the Middle East.

"It is now obvious that more Kurdish autonomy is unstoppable," said an opinion piece in Hurriyet, one of Turkey's main newspapers. The region's "Kurdish context requires the urgent settlement of Turkey's own Kurdish question."

"This all allows and actually demands Turkey's assumption of a major player role in the Kurdish equation. Ankara could bring Iraqi and Syrian Kurds together and into its sphere of influence by developing economic, social and cultural integration. It looks like this is Ankara's game plan."

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