CANDIDATE BIOGRAPHY

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In December 2019, the EU held an international conference which condemned any suppression of the Kurds, and called for the self-declared Autonomous Administration in Rojava to be preserved and to be reflected in any new Syrian Constitution. The Kurds are concerned that the independence of their declared Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) in Rojava might be severely curtailed.[351]

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On November 20, 2019, a new Syrian Constitutional Committee began operating in order to discuss a new settlement and to draft a new constitution for Syria.[350] This committee comprises about 150 members. It includes representatives of the Syrian regime, opposition groups, and countries serving as guarantors of the process such as e.g. Russia. However, this committee has faced strong opposition from the Assad regime. 50 of the committee members represent the regime, and 50 members represent the opposition. The committee began its work in November 2019 in Geneva, under UN auspices. However, the Assad regime delegation left on the second day of the process.[350]

At a summit in October 2018, envoys from Russia, Turkey, France and Germany issued a joint statement affirming the need to respect territorial integrity of Syria as a whole. This forms one basis for their role as “guarantor nations.” [350]

The second round of talks occurred around November 25, but was not successful due to opposition from the Assad regime.[350] At the Astana Process meeting in December 2019, a UN official stated that in order for the third round of talks to proceed, co-chairs from the Assad regime and the opposition need to agree on an agenda.[350]

The committee has two co-chairs, Ahmad Kuzbari representing the Assad regime, and Hadi Albahra from the opposition. It is unclear if the third round of talks will proceed on a firm schedule, until the Assad regime provides its assent to participate.[350]

Education

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International relations
Main article: Foreign relations of North and East Syria
See also: Syrian Democratic Forces § Support by the United States, France and other Western nations

Salih Muslim, co-chairman of the region’s leading Democratic Union Party (PYD) with Ulla Jelpke at Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin
The region’s role in the international arena is comprehensive military cooperation of its militias under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) umbrella with the United States and the international (US-led) coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[301][302] In a public statement in March 2016, the day after the declaration of the regions autonomy, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia as having “proven to be excellent partners of ours on the ground in fighting ISIL. We are grateful for that, and we intend to continue to do that, recognizing the complexities of their regional role.”[303] Late October 2016, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the international Anti-ISIL-coalition, said that the SDF would lead the impending assault on Raqqa, ISIL’s stronghold and capital, and that SDF commanders would plan the operation with advice from American and coalition troops.[304] At various times, the U.S. deployed U.S. troops embedded with the SDF to the border between the region and Turkey, in order to deter Turkish aggressions against the SDF.[305][306][307][308][309] In February 2018, the United States Department of Defense released a budget blueprint for 2019 with respect to the region, which included $300 million for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and $250 million for border security.[310] In April 2018, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron dispatched troops to Manbij and Rmelan in a bid to assist Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militias and in order to defuse tensions with Turkey.[311]

A demonstration in the city of Afrin in support of the YPG against the Turkish invasion of Afrin, 19 January 2018
In the diplomatic field, the de facto autonomous region lacks any formal recognition. While there is comprehensive activity of reception of the region’s representatives[312][313][314][315] and appreciation[316] with a broad range of countries, only Russia has on occasion openly supported the region’s political ambition of federalization of Syria in the international arena,[244][287] while the U.S. does not.[317][318] After peace talks between Syrian civil war parties in Astana in January 2017, Russia offered a draft for a future constitution of Syria, which would, among other things, change the “Syrian Arab Republic” into the “Republic of Syria”, introduce decentralized authorities as well as elements of federalism like “association areas”, strengthen the parliament at the cost of the presidency, and realize secularism by abolishing Islamic jurisprudence as a source of legislation.[319][320][321][322] The region opened official representation offices in Moscow during 2016,[323] Stockholm,[324] Berlin,[325] Paris,[326] and The Hague.[327] A broad range of public voices in the U.S. and Europe have called for more formal recognition of the region.[241][242][328][329] International cooperation has been in the field of educational and cultural institutions, like the cooperation agreement of Paris 8 University with the newly founded University of Rojava in Qamishli,[330] or planning for a French cultural centre in Amuda.[331][332][333]

Neighbouring Turkey is consistently hostile, which has been attributed to a perceived threat from the region’s emergence, in that it would encourage activism for autonomy among Kurds in Turkey in the Kurdish–Turkish conflict. In this context, in particular the region’s leading Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the YPG militia being members of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) network of organisations, which also includes both political and military Kurdish organizations in Turkey itself, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey’s policy towards the region is based on an economic blockade,[241] persistent attempts of international isolation,[334] opposition to the cooperation between the American-led anti-ISIL coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces,[335] and support of Islamist opposition fighters hostile to the autonomous region,[336][337][338] with some reports even including ISIL among these.[339][340][341] Turkey has on several occasions militarily attacked the region’s territory and defence forces.[342][343][344] This has resulted in some expressions of international solidarity with the region.[b]

On 9 October 2019, Turkey launched an attack on northern Syria “to destroy the terror corridor” on the Turkish southern border, as president Erdogan put it, after US President Donald Trump abandoned his support. Subsequent media reports have speculated that the offensive would lead to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.[349]

Syrian Constitutional Committee

Political Experience

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In March 2015, the Syrian Information Minister announced that his government considered recognizing the Kurdish autonomy “within the law and constitution”.[285] While the region’s administration is not invited to the Geneva III peace talks on Syria,[286] or any of the earlier talks, Russia in particular calls for the region’s inclusion and does to some degree carry the region’s positions into the talks, as documented in Russia’s May 2016 draft for a new constitution for Syria.[287] In October 2016, there were reports of a Russian initiative for federalization with a focus on northern Syria, which at its core called to turn the existing institutions of the region into legitimate institutions of Syria; also reported was its rejection for the time being by the Syrian government.[244] The Damascus ruling elite is split over the question whether the new model in the region can work in parallel and converge with the Syrian government, for the benefit of both, or if the agenda should be to centralize again all power at the end of the civil war, necessitating preparation for ultimate confrontation with the region’s institutions.[288]

An analysis released in June 2017 described the region’s “relationship with the regime fraught but functional” and a “semi-cooperative dynamic”.[289] In late September 2017, Syria’s Foreign Minister said that Damascus would consider granting Kurds more autonomy in the region once ISIL is defeated.[290]

On 13 October 2019, the SDF announced that it had reached an agreement with the Syrian Army which allowed the latter to enter the SDF-held cities of Manbij and Kobani in order to dissuade a Turkish attack on those cities as part of the cross-border offensive by Turkish and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.[291] The Syrian Army also deployed in the north of Syria together with the SDF along the Syrian-Turkish border and entered into several SDF-held cities such as Ayn Issa and Tell Tamer.[292][293] Following the creation of the Second Northern Syria Buffer Zone the SDF stated that it was ready to merge with the Syrian Army if when a political settlement between the Syrian government and the SDF is achieved.[294]

Personal Life

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Human rights in Rojava
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Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria
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The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (Rojava), is a de facto autonomous region of Syria that emerged from 2012 onwards during the Syrian Civil War and in particular the Rojava conflict. The region has a long history of human rights abuses. The current administration emphasises gender equality and pluralistic tolerance for religious and cultural diversity

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