The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is a Syrian affiliate of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It is one of the most important Kurdish opposition parties in Syria as well as a charter member of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change and the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan.
The PYD calls for the constitutional recognition of Kurdish rights and “democratic autonomy,” rejecting classical models such as federalism and self-administration. While condemning authoritarian rule in Damascus, the PYD is responsible for disrupting Kurdish efforts to form a united opposition front.
Saleh Muslim Mohammed: chairman
Asiyah Abdullah: co-chairman
Founded in 2003 as an offshoot of the PKK, the PYD suffered years of violent repression at the hands of the Syrian regime, following the signing of the Adana agreement with Turkey (1998) and the expulsion from Syria of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Following the start of the uprising in Syria, the PYD joined the Kurdish Patriotic Movement in May 2011, but declined to join the bulk of Kurdish opposition parties that formed the Kurdish National Council in October 2011. Since July 2011, it has played a limited role as a founding member of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change and has joined the PKK opposition body known as the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan, which was founded on December 16, 2011.
Policy Toward the Crisis
- Rejects external military intervention
- Rejects arming the opposition
- Supports dialogue with the regime
- Supports the Annan peace plan
- A pluralist democracy
- Constitutional recognition of Kurdish rights and “democratic autonomy” for the Kurdish people
Foreign Policy Issues
- Open hostility toward Turkey for its imprisonment of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, its denial of Kurdish rights, and its influence over the Syrian National Council
- Strained relations with Massoud Barzani’s Kurdish Regional Government for negotiating with Turkey at the expense of the PKK