Kurdish National Council boycotts local elections in Rojava

By Naveed Malekafzali (Twitter)

Qamishli - The Kurdish National Council (KNC) a political organization based in Rojava heavily associated with the government of Iraqi Kurdistan, has announced it will boycott the September 22 local elections in the de facto Kurdish autonomous region in Syria.

In a press release, the KNC condemned the local elections as "one-sided" in an attempt to solidify the PYD's current control of the government, and to distract from the Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq.

The head of the KNC's Local Councils, Mohsen Tahar, announces the end of a hunger strike protesting the PYD in September 2016.

The head of the KNC's Local Councils, Mohsen Tahar, announces the end of a hunger strike protesting the PYD in September 2016.

The KNC and the ruling PYD, whose military wing is the YPG and is the main contingent of the SDF military force, have a long history of rivalry since their founding in 2011, having had it explode into conflict and governmental action in 2016. The KNC's open and extensive links to the Iraqi Kurdish government, a rival of the autonomous government in Syria, have earned them the ire of many Syrian Kurds, including the ruling PYD.

On top of these connections to Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, the group has been accused of also having extensive links to Turkey, which has hit PYD-held areas of Syria with artillery fire and airstrike campaigns. While the KNC had asked Turkey in 2016 to assist them in their conflict with the PYD government, they have since turned against them, accusing them of threatening Rojava's sovereignty.

Among other actions, the most common action taken by the PYD against the KNC is arresting members of the organization and their leaders, including the leader of the party itself, Ibrahim Biro. The Rojava government has also closed down KNC branches and burned them across the region under the guise of closing down unregistered offices.

The KNC currently has two seats on the Syrian Democratic Council, the main legislative body of Rojava, and has not said whether or not it will boycott the 2018 parliamentary elections.