Salih Muslim Muhammad (born 1951) is the current 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.
Early political activities
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.
Career in the Democratic Union Party
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.
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.
Muslim is 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.
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 rebels linked to al-Qaida. He was buried in the family's hometown of Kobanê in a public funeral which thousands of people attended.
Relations with foreign countries
Muslim is a frequent guest and speaker at European political institutions and events, inter alia in September 2016 invited to address the European Parliament.
During an interview with BBC News reporter Orla Guerin in August 2012, Muslim denied "operational links" to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Turkey has received Salih Muslim for talks in 2013 and in 2014, even entertaining the idea of opening a Rojava representation office in Ankara "if it's suitable with Ankara's policies." However, later the Turkish government allegedly sought to assassinate Muslim. In late 2016, Turkey issued an arrest warrant for Salih Muslim in a move considered putting Ankara on a collision course with its Western allies.