The Kurdish Centre for Legal Studies and Consultancy, also known as YASA, released a map of what it described as “Syrian Kurdistan” which marks the borders of the Kurdish territories inside Syria.
According to the map, Syrian Kurdistan, also labeled Western Kurdistan by the Bonn-based center, starts from the village of Ain Diwar in the governorate of Hasakah in the northeast and extends across the Turkish borders till the far northwest near the city of Iskenderun.
The map features major cities in the northern Syria like Dêrik, Rmêlan, Tirbespiyê, Kobanî, and Afrin and the percentage of Kurds, Arabs, and Christians in each of them.
The map does not, however, specify the exact area of Syrian Kurdistan, which, according to the center, is not possible at the moment for security reasons. A second study is tp offer more accurate figures.
Based on YASA statistics, the number of Kurds in Syria is estimated at three million, mostly living in the north together with Arab and Christian minorities.
Jian Badrakhan, a YASA senior official, said that although the map may not be in line with the administrative divisions of the Syrian state, it is congruent with the Kurdish presence in the region.
“Kurds have been there for centuries,” he told the Kurdish news website al-Kurdiya News.
“There are very few Arabs and most of them were brought from central Syria by the regime while those belonging to tribes are indigenous. Christians are the also original inhabitants of the region. Some villages west of the Euphrates are inhabited by Turkmen.”
Kurds in Syria, Badrakhan explained, are basically demanding political non-centralism in the areas in which they constitute a majority.
“They will be charge of governing this area together with other minorities, but they will remain part of the state of Syria provided that their rights are recognized on both the local and the international levels.”
Badrakhan said that the Syrian opposition acknowledges the rights of Kurds, but the two parties have not yet reached an understanding as to the system of governance in the pre-dominantly Kurdish areas.
Badrakhan denied that the map exaggerated in linking areas that are interrupted by non-Kurdish presence for as much 40 kilometers like linking the city of Qamishlo, named the capital of Western Kurdistan, and the city of Serê Kaniyê in al-Hasakah governorate with the city Afrin in Aleppo governorate and the city of Kobanî in Raqqah governorate.
“We did not link those cities together, but rather traced the natural extension of Kurdish presence and which has resisted all attempts by the regime to change the demographics of the area whether through forcing Kurds out or bringing Arabs in as well as stripping Kurds of the Syrian citizenship.”
According to historical studies, Kurds played an important role in the independence of Syria during the Ottoman era and the French occupation.
Syrian Kurds were granted the right to create their state in the regions they inhabit through the Treaty of Sèvres between the Allies and the Ottoman Empire in 1920. However, the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, dashed Kurdish hopes after the Allies overlooked their rights in response to Turkish demands.