Salih Muslim Muhammad

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Salih Muslim Muhammad
Salih Muslim Mihemed
Saleh Muslim.jpg
Salih Muslim in December 2012
Chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD)
In office
Serving with Asya Abdullah (since 2012)
Succeeded by Shahoz Hassan[1]
Personal details
Born 1951 (age 66–67)[2]
Kobanî, Aleppo Governorate, Syria
Political party Democratic Union Party (PYD) (2003–present)
Other political
Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (1998–2003)
Spouse(s) Ayşe Efendi
Children Five (one deceased)
Alma mater Istanbul Technical University (1977)
Occupation Chemical engineer
Profession Politician

Salih Muslim Muhammad (Kurdish: Salih Muslim Mihemed‎, Arabic: صالح مسلم محمد‎) is the former co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the driving power behind the de facto autonomous Kurdish-controlled region of Rojava in Northern Syria. As the deputy coordinator of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, he is also the most prominent member of the Kurdish opposition in the Syrian Civil War.[3]

Early political activities[edit]

Muslim first became involved with the Kurdish movement during the 1970s when he was studying engineering at Istanbul Technical University after becoming influenced by Mustafa Barzani's ongoing fight against the Iraqi government, the failure of which spurred him into becoming more active.

In 1998, he joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDP-S), the Syrian branch of the Iraqi Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), which he left in 2003 after becoming disillusioned by the party's failure to accomplish its objectives.

2013 VOA report about the PYD, including an interview with Salih Muslim

Career in the Democratic Union Party[edit]

In 2003, Muslim joined the newly formed Democratic Union Party (PYD), becoming a member of its executive council, and was elected as party head in 2010. After he and his wife Ayşe Efendi were imprisoned in Syria, he fled to a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) camp in Iraq in 2010 and returned to Qamishli in March 2011 following the beginning of the Syrian Civil War.[4]

Unter Muslim's chairmanship the PYD in the following years became the leading political party and actor in the emergence of the Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava.

In September 2017, the 7th congress of the PYD was held in Northern Syria, where two new co-chairs were elected. Muslim was replaced by Shahoz Hassan and Asya Abdalla was replaced by Aysha Hisso.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Muslim, a citizen of Syria, was born in Seyran village close to Kobani in 1951. After an education in Syria, he studied at the Chemical Engineering faculty of Istanbul Technical University from 1970 until graduating in 1977. After a brief stint in London, he worked in Saudi Arabia between 1978 and 1990, and opened an engineering office in 1993 in Aleppo.[6]

On 9 October 2013, Salih Muslim's son Shervan, a fighter in the People's Protection Units (YPG), was killed west of Tell Abyad during clashes with al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front. He was buried in the family's hometown of Kobanê in a public funeral which thousands of people attended.[7]

Relations with foreign countries[edit]


Muslim is a frequent guest and speaker at European political institutions and events,[6][8][9][10] inter alia in September 2016 invited to address the European Parliament.[11]

Addressing thousands during the Newroz celebration in Frankfurt, Germany, on 18 March 2017, Muslim said that "there is a huge resistance despite all the attacks. Nobody should doubt that the success and victory will be ours." Muslim criticised Germany for banning Kurdish symbols, saying that "Germany should have banned the flags of Turkey and terrorist groups instead of our flags and symbols because we are fighting in the Middle East not for ourselves alone, we are fighting ISIS and terrorism for all humanity. Our resistance is for Europe, for the West and for all humanity."[12]


During an interview with BBC News reporter Orla Guerin in August 2012, Muslim denied "operational links" to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).[13] Turkey has received Salih Muslim for talks in 2013[14] and in 2014,[15] even entertaining the idea of opening a Rojava representation office in Ankara "if it's suitable with Ankara's policies."[16] However, later the Turkish government allegedly sought to assassinate Muslim.[17] In late 2016, Turkey issued an arrest warrant for Salih Muslim[6] in a move considered putting Ankara on a collision course with its Western allies.[18]


  1. ^ alongside Aysha Hisso"New co-chairs elected for PYD in the 7th Congress". Firat News Agency. 28 September 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  2. ^ Germany, - Berlin,. "Interview: Salih Muslim Muhammad, chairman of the PYD: »Turkey's henchmen in Syrian Kurdistan are responsible for the unrest here«". 
  3. ^ "More Kurdish Cities Liberated As Syrian Army Withdraws from Area". Rudaw. 20 July 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-25. 
  4. ^ "Saleh Muslim Mohammed". Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Syrian Kurdish PYD elects new co-chairs in Rojava". Kurdistan 24. 30 September 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-09. 
  6. ^ a b c "Why Turkey issued arrest warrant for this Kurdish leader". Al-Monitor. 27 November 2016. 
  7. ^ "Thousands bid farewell to Sherzan Muslim". Firat News. 11 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "Syrian Kurdish PYD, Turkey's HDP leaders attend 'Ocalan conference' in Athens". eKurd. 17 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "After Belonging. New World Embassy: Rojava". Oslo Architecture Triennale 2016s. Retrieved 2016-11-25. 
  10. ^ "Saleh Moslem speaks at a panel in Scotland". ANF. 15 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "PYD leader to European Parliament: Turkey still supporting ISIS". ARA News. 3 September 2016. 
  12. ^ "PYD's Muslim at Newroz rally in Frankfurt: Victory will be ours". ANF. 18 March 2017. 
  13. ^ "Crisis in Syria boosts Kurdish hopes". BBC World News. 
  14. ^ "PYD leader arrives in Turkey for two-day talks: Report". Hurriyet Daily News. 25 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "Syrian Kurdish leader holds secret talks in Turkey: reports". Yahoo. 5 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Salih Muslim's trip to Turkey and Incirlik Base". Yeni Safak. 7 July 2015. 
  17. ^ "Turkey plots to assassinate Rojava administrators". ANF. 28 November 2016. 
  18. ^ "Turkey Increases Pressure on Syrian Kurds". Voice of America. 23 November 2016. 

External links[edit]