Wednesday 29 March 2017

New states emerge from ashes of conflict with Isil

The recent conquest of Tal Abyad has meant two of the three
The recent conquest of Tal Abyad has meant two of the three "cantons" - Kobane and Jazeera, to the east - now touch on each other, allowing for an even greater measure of autonomy. Photo: AP

Sofia Barbarani

From the vast size of his office and the breadth of his responsibilities, you would think Akram Hesso was a head of state.

He talks of economic policies and export taxes, while his armed forces are guarding borders and keeping law and order for his millions of compatriots.

Those armed forces - men and women alike - have been lionised across the West for their fight against the jihadists of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (Isil).

In fact, Rojava is a territory few people outside the Middle East could place on a map. Mr Hesso is merely one of several leaders of a new type of entity with which the world is having to come to terms as the Middle East falls apart: the unacknowledged, unauthorised, statelet.

Rojava is the name Syrian Kurds give to the three Kurdish occupied zones of the north of the country, which have wrested self-rule out of the collapse of the Syrian state. They have then had to defend them against assault from Isil - most dramatically seen in the battle for Kobane, the border town with Turkey.

The recent conquest of Tal Abyad has meant two of the three "cantons" - Kobane and Jazeera, to the east - now touch on each other, allowing for an even greater measure of autonomy.

"From the start of our self-administration there's been coordination between the heads of the three cantons," Mr Hasso, who runs Jazeera, says. "Opening this corridor will make the coordination better."

He has, at his finger-tips, many of the advantages of a state. He exacts taxes from exports - as the long queues of trucks laden with sheep and produce waiting to cross the Tigris into the neighbouring Kurdistan Region of Iraq bear witness.

The government buys wheat and other agricultural produce from local farmers, and stores it or sells it on elsewhere in Syria, or to Iraq. It also has its own oil supplies, from the nodding donkeys that line the region's roads. Though just 5pc are currently operational, thanks to the fighting, it is a start.

The desperate battle for Kobane meant that for the first time, the Syrian Kurds' dominant political party, the PYD, and their male and female fighting forces - the YPG and YPJ - achieved international renown. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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