Premier of Kobane Anwar Moslem: The Fall of Kobane Would Be the Fall of Humanity


Anwar Moslem on the right with dark shirt

In an exclusive interview conducted on Wednesday, Ovober 8, 20014, the Premier of local Kurdish Kobane Canton administration Anwar Moslem provides important update about Kobane and ongoing ISIS attacks against the city.

Mutlu Civiroglu


Mr. Moslem, what’s the current situation in Kobane?

ISIS hasn’t withdrawn yet. ISIS is still in the eastern, southeastern and southern [parts of the town. They are a little away from the western section. Clashes continue so far. Fierce ffightings are taking place. They aim for a massacre. There are thousands of civilians here; children, women and elderly. As the resistance is in its 24th day, they want to crush it spitefully with all the civilians as well. The fact is there is heroic resistance here by Kurdish Protection Units (YPG). American and coalition air strikes are very welcome here by our forces and the Canton administration.

Tell me about the civilians inside Kobane. There are reports that all civilians left the city?

Claims that there are no civilians in Kobane are false. Nobody can, nobody dares to get out of their homes as there are fierce clashes and flying bullets everywhere. There are thousands of civilians under the ISIS threat. Some are here in the city; some others are close to the border. Their situation is getting worse and dangerous. Some media say Kobane is empty. It’s not true. There are civilians even in the villages ISIS has overrun. Their situation too is dangerous. I repeat that there are civilians in the town. I can’t give you an exact number, but there are thousands of civilians here. If the media wants we can provide pictures and interviews with civilians. Our main purpose in calling the international community is protecting these civilians, children and women.

American and coalition air strikes have had effective results in the last two days. When jets strike civilians in the city cheer up. They salute American jets. Defense Ministry of the Kobane administration said, in a statement, that our YPG forces and the coalition partners can root out ISIS from the Middle East.

You mentioned airstrikes. How effective are today’s air strikes?

They are effective today as well. But we cannot know how much exactly. As the fighting rages on we can’t determine the effect. We are in touch with our forces who witness air strikes. But they are usually busy in fighting ISIS militants. We don’t want to keep them busy, so we avoid calling them frequently.

The jets carry out a good mission, especially for the well-being of civilians. That’s why the continuation of air strikes in Kobane against ISIS is important. The destruction of ISIS’s tanks, Humvees and other heavy vehicles is of utmost importance. Today they carried out a car bomb attack. That’s why American, British, French and all other coalition partner’s jets should continue targeting ISIS in Kobane Canton. ISIS receives reinforcement from Tal Abyad and Raqqah. The coalition partners should be tracking them better. They must stop them. So that we can finish them off inside Kobane and save the civilians.

Some media reports claim these airstrikes are useless. Are they?

No, they are pretty effective in last two days. As the head of the Canton Administration, I recognize the fact that they are helpful and effective. ISIS militants are using artillery they brought from Mosul, and it is used against the civilians as well. So why should the coalition stop the bombardment? The coalition is saving these civilians and the canton. So be it known by all sides that YPG on the ground with the American and coalition jets overhead can fight ISIS off.

Is YPG capable of expelling ISIS from Kobane?

Yes, as long as their artillery, vehicles and tanks are destroyed, new reinforcements are cut off; we don’t have anti-tank weaponry by the way, our forces can finish them off. YPG has promised to annihilate those thugs.

What about YPG loses and injuries? How many ISIS fighters were killed?

YPG and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) are the sons and daughters of this people. Most of these fighters are in their twenties. They fight against ISIS looters, thieves whose aim is destruction.


Arin Mirkan

ISIS commits inhuman actions; they behead even our girls. YPG and YPJ are fighting against such a cruel terrorist group.

A young Kurdish woman Arin Mirkan who was a YPJ commander chose to detonate herself among a group of ISIS members. Rather than surrendering to ISIS, she chose sacrificing her life such in such heroic way.

But, we are hopeful that our forces with the help of the coalition partners can fight ISIS till they are annihilated, and we can rebuild peace and stability once more.

What about the reaction of people around the globe to your case? American people are deeply concerned that the Kobane will fall. Similarly people in other corner of the world have similar concerns for you.


The memory of 9/11 is with us. We especially want to reach out to the American people and their government. We know their suffering too. We remember terrorist attacks against civilians in Spain, France and elsewhere. We are aware of what happened innocent journalists and aid workers at terrorists’ hands.

We, as the administration of Kobane Canton, call upon all sides to challenge the threat together as to create security. We believe in support of the American people and people all over the world.

I would like to tank all human rights defenders in becoming a voice for the voiceless Kobane. I am very grateful on behalf of the people of Kobane. I want everyone to know that fall of Kobane would be the fall of humanity. I therefore appeal everyone to stand up for Kobane and stand with us in these very difficult days.



If you want my participation to a show, interview me or get a quote on Kobane and other Kurdish related issues, please contact me at

You can follow me on Twitter for latest updates from Kobani


This interview was translated from Kurdish into English by Ê Din

Yezidi Demonstration in Washington, DC

photo 3


A Brief Analysis of the Situation in Hasakah

HasakahIslamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) has launched an offensive against Hasakah for few days, and took control of Regiment 121, a major military installation in south of Hasakah province.

Since then Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) took preemptive steps to protect the city from all directions. According to YPG sources in the city there is no ISIS presence in the city, and the suicide attack resulted death of 17 regime forces was immediately interfered by YPG before additional ISIS reinforcement arrive to the city.

As far as regime forces concerned, there is still some military presence in the city center and government building are still controlled by the regime officials. However, majority of regime soldiers are demoralized due to lacking clear motivation to fight. Local sources earlier reported that different sort of regime weapons were seized by YPG in Hasakah in last few days.

In a phone interview, Cochair of the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) Abdulselam Ahmed confirms that vast majority of the city is currently under YPG control. Ahmed, himself a Kurd from Hasakah, says the life in the city is normal and electricity is available in the Kurdish side of the city.

When asked about the timing of IS attacks on Hasakah, Ahmed says IS thought this as the best time to seize Hasakah as they thought YPG was preoccupied with fight in other fronts.

“Because of fierce fight in Kobane as well as Serekaniye and other regions, ISIS thought it is an appropriate time to attack Hasakah. Expecting no resistance from dispirited regime forces, ISIS was expecting an easy seizure of Hasakah. However, YPG took all necessary precautions to prevent ISIS from entering the city.”

Ahmed says it is likely that there are some ISIS supporters are in the city. “After the suicide attack they were expecting more reinforcements from surrounding villages and around Mount Abdulaziz, but thanks to YPG interference this possibility was prevented.”

In regards to YPG casualties in Hasakah, Ahmed says 3 YPG fighters lost their lives while defending the city.

“3 of YPG fighters were martyred by IS mortar attacks in south of the city. We received a news that 2 more YPG fighters martyred today, but we do not have the details yet.”

Ahmed confirms that Christians in the city asked Kurdish protection against ISIS and YPG is taking measures to protect the community.

Hasakah has always been one of the major goals of ISIS as it would allow further expansion of their control in Syria. After the group seized the control of Mosul, it wants to include Hasakah into its territories as well. Considering close ties between Arab tribes in Mosul and Hasakah, ISIS believes the city should be a part of its caliphate.

Besides, Hasakah is an important road junction near the Turkish and Iraqi borders. Main road connecting Aleppo and Damascus are passing through Hasakah. It is also an important agricultural region; wheat, rice, cotton etc.

If Hasakah falls into ISIS, Jazira Canton of Kurds, cities like Qamishli, Derik (Malikiyah), Dirbesiye, Serekaniye (Ras al-ain) and Ramalan oil fields will also go under ISIS control. Such a development will mean a big blow for Kurdish achievements in Syria.

July 27, 2014

For question and comments


HRW Official Speaks of Situation in Rojava, PYD Challenges

A delegation from New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) visited Syria’s Kurdish regions, or Rojava, last week, where the Democratic Union Party (PYD) has declared a Kurdish autonomous government with the help of its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

HRW Delegation is with YPG Spokesman Rêdûr Xelîl

In an important and detailed interview with Rudaw Fred Abrahams, a special advisor to HRW who was part of the delegation, spoke about whether the autonomous government declared by the PYD is truly inclusive as claimed, if local authorities are observing human rights, the status of women, the PYD’s legal reforms and its relations with the regime of Syria’s President Bashar Assad. Abrahams said that the greatest challenge for the PYD is transitioning “from a movement — an opposition group — into a governing body, or into creating authorities, systems and structures that would represent everyone.”

Q:  What was the main purpose of your visit to Rojava?

Fred Abrahams: The main purpose was to acquaint ourselves with the situation because it was our first time in the area. We had never been to the Kurdish regions. Certainly, we needed to get up to speed on the conditions during this latest conflict. So this was an opportunity for us to see conditions on the ground and to engage with the local actors who, as you know, are now establishing local governing structures and an administration in Rojava. They are essentially, as you know, the de facto authority on the ground both militarily, meaning the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, and politically Democratic Union Party. The main message we have for them, the overarching message is that when you are the local authority, even de facto authority, then with that comes legal responsibilities.

As you know, there are international standards for human rights that you are obliged to respect. We wanted to, first of all, see how they are doing in that regard, talk to them about those obligations, document the conditions, and discuss with the local authorities ways to improve them.

Q:  What did you find?

Fred Abrahams: There are some positives and some negatives. Good thing, first of all, is that the security situation in the far northeast is much, much better than in most parts of Syria. Now, this is not to say that the security situation is very good up there. It is not good. But, it is to say how horrible it is in other parts of Syria, which we know. Compared to other parts of the country, then, the security situation is relatively stable. Of course, there are still car bomb attacks and other violent incidences, and fighting, of course, on the periphery.

In terms of the human rights condition, we noticed a number of areas that are problematic. We talked about them very directly with the authorities. One of the first areas is what I would call political pluralism and respecting free expression and political activity. I think one of the overarching issues is for the PYD and Democratic Society Movement (TEV-DEM) transitioning from an opposition group — an armed resistance — into a governing structure that is representing all the citizens and all the residents in the area, and that means respecting different views, allowing political activity and allowing all different media. It means freedom of association.

There is, what I would say, still high intolerance for different political activities. There is some improvement of course. First of all, we were only in Jazira (Hasakah province), which is important to know. We could not go, for security reasons, to Kobani (Ain al-Arab) or Afrin. In Jazira we do not have now reports on political prisoners, so that is good. I think that is an improvement. There were some releases after the last agreement in Erbil. But we do have some indications that there may be still some in Afrin. It is very difficult to say — just because you are a political activist with the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria (PDKS) or Kurdish Union Party in Syria (Yekiti) or another party does not mean that you are necessarily a political prisoner.

Q:  Politicians and local officials in the region claim that when some people are arrested because of criminal activities, they try to use a “political activist” label to prevent prosecution. Did you come across this?

Fred Abrahams: Yes, I think that is right. Look, it is very easy to scream about a political attack and try to score a political point. So, that is why we have to investigate these cases and see — just because you are a member of an opposition party, it does not mean that you can violate the law.

The issue that we have is not if you are an opposition member, but did they respect the process of the law? That is the area that we saw a problem. For example, to be concrete with you, one of the problems we saw is that the local authorities are trying to change their laws. They are applying a combination of Syrian law, some other laws of some countries and what they are calling the social contract — basically the constitutional document they have implemented.

The problem is that there is a huge confusion among legal experts, among lawyers, among judges — and even and especially among prisoners — about what law is being applied. If it is not clear what laws are applied, it could open the door for abuse or arbitrary application of those laws. I think that is a big problem!

One of the things we suggested to them was, look, we know that the Syrian law has a lot of problems. There are many aspects of the Syrian law that violates international human rights standards, especially discrimination against Kurds — that is obvious. So you do not need to take the aspects of the law that are in violation of human rights. But most of the Syrian law, it is fine. I can say maybe 90 percent, 95 percent of it is fine, when you are talking about normal crimes — theft, even murder.

These are standard laws that, I believe, Syrian laws were taken from the French penal code. Now it is not the time to open the door of legal reform. The country is in a war, the political situation is not stable. The court system — they are revamping and changing the judicial system and now on the top of that you want to open a question of new laws! We think it is too soon. You can change laws in the future, but now it is not the time to open this question. Rather than making fast changes, this should be done step-by-step.

Q:  How was the reaction of the authorities? Were they open to your suggestions?

Fred Abrahams: It was mixed. Let me put it this way: There was some understanding of that, and there was also a strong defense of the project — an ideological defense. I think this approach comes from the tradition of the movement, and that is what I am talking about by shifting from a movement to a governing structure. Those are different characters. Some people would agree with that.

We visited two prisons, and I give them credit for opening the doors for those prisons — I want to acknowledge the cooperation we had to visit those prisons. The conditions of the prisons were basically good. I mean, you know, it is a prison in Syria — it is not a place you want to be. But we did not find an evidence of serious problems. Prisoners said they were treated well. They had enough food, they did not complain about physical violence and so on. But we did notice a problem because we interviewed a number of people who were arrested and released. There is definitely a problem of violence at the time of arrest. This is a tradition of the Syrian system, which relies on forced confessions and this is typical in the region! I understand that a part of the problem is that they do not have a professional police — it is not like they have Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) or forensic laboratory for a professional police investigation over there!

However, it is illegal! Beatings at the time of interrogation is against the social contract (regional constitution); it is even against Syrian law and it is against international standards. But it is happening! We talked about it with them. We said very directly that we think it is happening, and I will tell you that they did not deny it. They said, ‘Look, this is our transition. We have to do better, learn, improve,’ and so on. That is fine. I agree with that. But it is not an excuse. So we are going to press on that — they can do better.

The other issue we looked at is child soldiers. First of all, the regulations of both YPG and Asayish (Kurdish police forces) prohibit the use of children under the age of 18.

Q:  Did they not sign the Geneva Convention a few months ago?

Fred Abrahams: No, but what happened was a couple of things. First of all, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey signed a public commitment not to use child soldiers with an organization called Geneva Call about a year ago. YPG is now in conversation with Geneva Call to do the same thing. Now, in addition to that, in December 2013, YPG released an order to all members that they cannot accept any person under the age of 18. All of that is very positive and welcome. But we have documented that the problem is continuing. I believe it is getting better. I believe they have stopped using younger children. For example, you do not see young kids at checkpoints. Before, there were even kids as young as 12 years old seen by others in previous trip to Rojava. But after the order, I do not think it is happening now. I think they have stopped that. But we have definitely documented cases still under the age of 18. We have gotten some 17 and maybe 16.

Q:  How are they justifying the use of children under the age of 18?

Fred Abrahams: The way they are justifying is that, ‘These people are volunteers. These kids want to contribute to the cause and they won’t go home.’ It is actually true — we spoke with the mother of one kid. She said that they pulled the kid out, and the kid ran back. Because he is 17 and wants to fight or he wants to be a part of the movement. That is fine, but the idea is that a commander should not have accepted the kid. It is the order that if you are not 18, the kid can do a political, media or humanitarian work. But you are not supposed to be a part of hostilities until the age of 18. So this is still a problem. We think that, frankly, they can do better. It is not that difficult since they are well organized. If they want to stop it, they can stop. We think they should do it.

Q:  Did you observe any other problems?

Fred Abrahams:  There are two other things we have looked at: One is the attacks by terrorist groups, Islamist groups — there was a car bomb attack on a local official, Abdulkerim Omar. We met with Omar and he was not hurt, but another man was killed. We met with his family — he was a father of five kids and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. So obviously, these are serious human rights violations committed by different Islamist groups or terrorist groups.

The other issue is the borders. I learned that the local government agreed with the Iraqi government to open the Tel Kocer (Yarubiya) border. This is an excellent news! I am not sure how much can get through Yarubiya because of the security situation on the Iraqi side, but it is certainly a positive step. I do not know what impact it would have on humanitarian conditions. As you know Turkey basically kept the borders closed. We found out that Turkey opens the (Senyurt) border with Dirbesiye once a month, and the last time was February 5.  Kurds in Turkey collect aid and then just deliver it into Rojava once a month through this gate. But, you know, once a month is completely inadequate!

Q:  As Human Rights Watch, have you requested the Turkish government to open the borders more frequently?

Fred Abrahams: Absolutely, we already have. We understand the politics of this, but the problem is that the politics are making people suffer. We believe the borders should be opened for the aid and aid is certainly needed in the region. People are not starving but there is a real shortage of essential foods and essential medicines. For example, baby milk is in short supply. If you have any chronic diseases, diabetes, then you are really in trouble. It is very difficult to get these basic medicines, and it is Turkey to blame for keeping some of these medicines out.

Q: I was in Rojava in October and witnessed the same things that you are describing. So, unfortunately people are going through similar situation?

Fred Abrahams: Yes, no question! There is a very tricky issue of the border at Fishkabor. Frankly, I think that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) can do more to help the flow of the aid coming in.  I also know that all of this is a result of the messy politics. It is a real shame that people are not able to get what they urgently require! I noticed that there was a bridge, a pontoon bridge, across the river that is now dismantled and is not functioning. We believe the KRG can do more. They can do more to let aid in. Some is getting in — it is not completely closed — but it is not enough.

Q: Similarly, have you also contacted the KRG to do more about the situation?

Fred Abrahams: Yes, absolutely. We have already said that and I have said it in some interviews. We think that both Turkey and the KRG should put the politics aside and help people in need. Closing the borders is making the situation worse.

Q:  What did you observe about the situation of women in general?

Fred Abrahams: The most obvious answer to this question is the women fighters in YPG and Asayesh the stated commitment to gender equality in the TEV-DEM project. Frankly, as a concept it is incredibly welcome and very refreshing, which is so different from other countries and other areas in the region. However, I think it is not as deep rooted as it is presented to be. In other words, there is as you know a man and  a woman in the head of all institutions. They set a 40 percent quota for women in different institutions. But the leading authorities are still tending to be men. So it is an improvement, but I would not say the equality they claim it to be.

In terms of other women’s rights, I am afraid that we did not have time to investigate questions of, for example, domestic violence or sexual violence. We were only there for five days.

Q:  How is the situation of minorities such as Christians?

Fred Abrahams: It is a very good question, and it is also a topic for our next trip. We simply did not have time to visit any of the Syriac communities or others, and we have to do that. Look, I have to tell you one thing: All the authorities in Rojava are making a strong statement by including other groups and other parties. Frankly speaking, I think that is true and that is welcome. But, in my opinion, PYD is clearly the dominant political force. I want to come back to an overarching issue which is the PYD’s ability to transition or to evolve from a movement — an opposition group — into a governing body, or into creating authorities, systems, and structures that would represent everyone. That is going to be a process.

Q:  Is there any organization that offers trainings and workshops for the authorities in Rojava for this transitional process? Are the authorities open to such trainings?

Fred Abrahams: I only know of one group that is doing something. It is a legal group called “Kurdish Center for Studies & Legal Consultancy” also known as YASA. It is an organization with Kurdish lawyers based in Europe, and they have gone to provide some legal training. So my understanding is that they, the Kurdish authorities in Rojava, are open to it. I mean, they do want to improve. The question and challenge is going to be whether the PYD and the YPG is going to create an atmosphere of openness, tolerance, and cooperation among parties, and will it allow a space for other political groups and ideas. I think the sustainability of their projects depends on that. That sounds like a political statement, but it is not! I am talking from a human rights perspective that needs cultivating an atmosphere of inclusion and consultation, tolerating different views and different activities.

Q:  I heard you were also investigating the Amuda incidents. Is that true?

Fred Abrahams: Yes, that is true. We also visited Amuda, and we are still in the process of examining all the evidence. We do have concerns about possible excessive use of force, but we have to examine the specifics to determine whether there was any force used against the fighters. YPG claimed that one of their fighters died. The counterclaim is that this guy died in the fighting at Hasakah and did not die at all in the protest. We have to examine materials given to us. We have not yet reached our conclusions. But we will look at it and hopefully have something to say on that.

Q:  Your trip to region came after the announcement of the local autonomy in the region. What do you want to say about that?

Fred Abrahams: I think PYD is playing a very strong role in the autonomy. I do not think anybody would deny that. In my view, they play more of a role than they think they would admit — that is not as pluralistic as the administration claims. But it is also true that it is not only PYD. And there are other parties as well. So again, I come back to my main point: Will it really become an administration that is for governing and not for ruling — those are two different things. I would say the PYD is the strongest force on the ground — that is quite clear. And their influence is the strongest within the governing structure.

Q:  Finally, what about the Assad regime’s presence in Rojava. I know in Qamishli there is a certain regime presence. What was your take on Assad’s power in Kurdish towns?

Fred Abrahams: The Assad forces and the government is basically present in three places in Qamishli: One is in the center so they call it kind of ‘security square,’ you know, the center of town. I think that also includes some Arab neighborhoods. The second is on the Turkish border at the border crossing. The third is at the airport. The airport is important — the UN World Food Program, they airlifted in some humanitarian aid a few weeks ago through this airport. Kurdish authorities told us that they did not see any, any ounce of that — no grain or rice! So, all of the aid was distributed elsewhere. I assume to the government controlled areas, but I do not know for sure. But it definitely did not go to the Kurdish areas! So the regime is there, but as you know, there is an agreement or accommodation so the Asayish forces and the government forces are sometimes passing each other in the street, and they tolerate each other, or there is an agreement, obviously, in an accommodation to allow each other’s presence. But that is a current agreement that they have.

Q: What would be the reason for such an agreement?

Fred Abrahams: To me, it is quite clear that, at this moment, they have no interest in clashing with each other except their common enemy, namely the Islamist forces. So there is a mutual understanding of an agreement to tolerate one another rather than clash. But, how long that would last is unpredictable. I think it would hold so long as their common enemy.

Q: Finally, have you been told about human rights violations and atrocities committed by jihadist militants?

Fred Abrahams: Yes, the first thing is attacks because they are indiscriminate and many times it causes civilian deaths. But then, of course, kidnapping of civilians, which are still occasionally happening — in the past it happened a lot. And finally the maltreatment of fighters who were captured. I saw reports — horrible killings and the beheading of four YPG fighters recently, I think, it was in Afrin. That is an extreme violation of war crime. You know, you have to treat prisoners of war humanely. The last thing I would say is that we did not visit Ras al-Ain or Serekaniye, but I know in that town they complain about looting of a hospital. When the Islamist forces were in the town, they stole all medical equipment from a hospital. That is, of course, a serious violation. It was a civilian hospital and they are still suffering from that, having to buy, import equipment.

Time for U.S. to Embrace Syria’s Kurds

Mutlu Civiroglu, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Mutlu Civiroglu is a Washington, DC based-journalist and Kurdish affairs analyst focusing on Syria and Turkey. You can follow him @mutludc. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

The United States has been searching for an ally in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. But while the exiled opposition coalitions have been dogged by infighting and a lack of real influence inside Syria, and the armed opposition within the country is rife with extremists, Washington has been ignoring a natural and potentially valuable ally: the Kurds.

Kurds administer the most stable, peaceful corner of Syria, and have been open in trying to secure better relations with the West. Yet despite this, there is little to speak of in terms of ties. It is time for Washington to accept that if it wants to eventually see a peaceful, pluralistic Syria, then the Kurds are its best partners moving forward.

Unlike the main opposition coalition, Syrian Kurdish groups are united. Indeed, the two major Kurdish umbrella groups, the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan (PCWK) and the Syrian Kurdish National Council (SKNC), recently announced they had reached agreement on several key issues, including unified Kurdish participation at the Geneva II Conference.

Unfortunately, Washington does not seem interested in Kurdish participation. According to some SKNC leaders, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford pressured Kurds to be part of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) rather than pushing for Kurdish participation in Geneva. “We don’t understand why Ford has such a negative attitude towards Kurdish parties,” SKNC official Ahmed Suleiman reportedly told Voice of America.

But this approach has little chance of success, especially as the SNC has shown little desire to recognize Kurdish demands. In fact, the SNC went as far as to denounce the Kurds’ recent declaration of autonomy: “Its declaration of self-rule amounts to a separatist act shattering any relationship with the Syrian people who are battling to achieve a free, united and independent state, liberated from tyranny and sovereign over all its territory,” the group said.

This failure to recognize Kurdish demands is at the root of much of the Kurdish suspicion of the Arab opposition. True, rather than take on a military equipped with sophisticated weapons and advanced air strike capabilities, Kurds have been trying to protect their homes and build self-government from the bottom up. But just because Kurds don’t want to fight the al-Assad regime on somebody else’s behalf doesn’t mean they are regime collaborators.

The picture is further complicated by the fact that Washington ally Turkey strongly rejects any status for Kurds, and has looked to prevent Kurdish participation in Geneva. These diverging interests between Washington and Ankara surely underscore that it is time for the international community to develop a Kurdish policy of its own.

The reality is that the armed Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) deserves recognition for fighting extremist groups. The YPG claims to have killed almost 3,000 fighters from fundamentalist groups such as al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, efforts that have also included notable roles for female fighters.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdistan is the safest and most stable corner of Syria, and has been a safe haven for those fleeing violence. The Kurdish focus on defending territory from both government brutality and extremist attacks, rather than taking a front and center role in the conflict, has meant that Arab, Assyrian and Chechen neighbors have been able to live relatively peacefully together in Kurdistan.

Against this backdrop, Kurds last month announced an interim administration to fill the vacuum that followed the regime’s 2012 withdrawal from Kurdistan. The administration aims to provide social, economic, educational and health services even as the people of Syrian Kurdistan live under tough conditions imposed by al Qaeda affiliates. There is, for example, a shortage of basics including bread, milk, baby food and medical equipment. A lack of electricity and fuel is making life difficult for locals during the winter, and providing assistance would be a good step for Western capitals to take if they want to boost ties with a population that could provide valuable support for their goals.

The U.S. and its allies would find it in their own interests to stop ignoring the Kurds and instead welcome their participation in Geneva – a conference that ignores Syria’s largest ethnic minority, after all, will not produce any viable solutions.

Kurds across the world have demonstrated their solidarity with Syrian Kurdistan. It is time that Washington joined them.

Time for U.S. to embrace Syria’s Kurds

Syrian Kurds Declare Autonomous Government Ahead of Talks

Kurds in Syria have declared the formation of an autonomous government after saying they had not been invited to Geneva-2 peace talks, Russia Today reported Tuesday.

North and Northeastern Syria will see the installation of a president and 22 ministries.

The decision followed repeated calls and requests from the Kurds to form their own independent delegation at the talks, which began today in Switzerland, one separate from the exiled coalition and other groups.

The pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) earlier stated that it would reject any resolution reached at the talks.

Kurdish anger over exclusion at Geneva spilled over Twitter pages in the past weeks with hundreds of Kurdish activists demanding Kurdish representation at the Geneva conference.

In a recent interview with Ahram Online, Mutlu Civiroglu, a Washington-based journalist and Kurdish affairs analyst said: “Kurds are discontented that conference organizers are trying to leave them out of Geneva II. They want to attend this conference and speak up with their own demands.”

Syrian Kurds’ Moment of Opportunity

A Special Show on Syrian Kurds on AJ’s The Stream :’Moment of Opportunity’

I have a short comment on the Kurdish Administration