The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. SDF controls roughly 25% of Syrian territory and has established an autonomous administration in northeast Syria. Currently, areas controlled by SDF are being attacked by Turkey. In addition to this, the SDF is also having sporadic clashes with Syrian government forces. In an exclusive interview with Manish Rai the Co-chairperson of the Syrian Democratic Council, Amina Omar discussed the current political landscape of North Syria.
Question – The Syrian Democratic Council’s governance model in North-East Syria: Could it be effectively implemented across all of Syria?
Omar– The vision of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) for a solution in Syria is for Syria’s future to have a decentralized regime. The SDC considers that the model of the democratic Autonomous Administration in North and East Syria can serve as a model for decentralized governance that can be adapted in other regions of Syria taking into account the privacy of each region.
What works for northeastern Syria may not work for southern Syria, and what suits southern Syria may not be suitable for the coastal regions of Syria and so on.
Question- With President Erdogan’s indication of expanding Turkey’s military operations in Syria, how do you view this move?
Omar- This move is considered illegitimate and will lead the region into a dangerous turn. It violates ceasefire agreements and de-escalation deals and will create a state of chaos and instability, allowing terrorist groups to grow and expand their operations further.
Question- In North-East Syria, which poses a greater threat: Turkish-supported rebel groups or ISIS?
Omar- Rebel terrorist groups and ISIS both pose a significant threat to the region and are supported by Turkey. The difference is that there is a global coalition fighting against ISIS. As for the terrorist groups, they move freely in areas occupied by Turkey.
Question- Are there anticipated dialogues with President Bashar Assad’s regime in the foreseeable future?
Omar- I do not expect any near-term dialogues with the Syrian government.
Question- Turkey’s recent military campaigns in Syria have seen significant targeting of civilian facilities. What could be driving this strategy?
Omar- The strategy behind this is a part of the systematic policy of the Turkish state, aiming to undermine the Autonomous Administration project. This starts with undermining economic aspects, destroying vital infrastructure, and service centers. It then extends to social aspects, by displacing Kurdish people from their areas and obliterating their cultural identity. Finally, it seeks to politically eliminate the Autonomous Administration project.
Question- Arab tribesmen in Deir ez-Zor have shown dissent against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), citing the Democratic Union Party (PYD)’s dominant control as a key concern. How have these grievances been addressed?
Omar- The situation in Deir ez-Zor is very complex. Most of the tribal communities in Deir ez-Zor are supportive of the Autonomous Administration and consider themselves representatives of it. A few of them are representatives of external entities that work to incite sectarian tensions and disrupt the social fabric and historical relationships among the components of the region. There are legitimate demands by the people of Deir ez-Zor that must be addressed. Recently, the democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria held a conference with the tribes in Deir ez-Zor, attended by various segments of the society, and there were positive outcomes to be implemented within six months from the conference’s date, including restructuring civil, legislative, and executive councils and municipalities, allowing political parties to operate until a political party licensing law is issued, amending laws related to newcomers, and other important outcomes helping to address the problems in Deir ez-Zor.
Question- Turkish authorities frequently assert a connection between Kurdish factions in North-East Syria and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). How would you comment on this Turkish claim?
Omar- The Kurdistan Workers’ Party is a party that advocates for the rights of the Kurdish people and a just solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey. As for the Kurds in Syria, they demand their rights within the Syrian state. The relationship may be ideological, as both advocate for freedom, democracy, and women’s rights.
Interview arranged by Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), Media office based in Qamishli, North-East Syria