After the main Syrian Kurdish group officially declared areas under its control in northern Syria a federalized autonomous region this week, the Syrian regime and opposition, as well as Turkey, immediately rejected the declaration.

The group was also not given a seat at the table of peace negotiations taking place in Geneva.

Despite not being recognized, the Syrian Kurds have fully governed their region for two years. Their governance has been overwhelmingly democratic, egalitarian and secular in a region where totalitarian and Islamist ideologies prevail.

The only other areas in the Middle East that can be characterized in this way are the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq — where minorities are well-protected under new laws — and Israel.

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Image courtesy of AFP/DELIL SOULEIMAN