SOHR exclusive | SDC leader Majdouline Hussein: The “Syrian social contract” aims to organise political and legal affairs in SDF-held areas, and we are not separatists
Mrs. Hussein: Turkey’s practices in north Syria are war crimes
Drafting a new “Syrian social contract” in north and east Syria has raised many questions about its motives, objectives and timing, especially since neither the war in Syria has reached to an end nor a political settlement has been agreed on.
Several parties, opposed to the AANES (write the full name between the brackets) project, have accused the authorities in north Syria region that the “drafting of this contract is a part of preparations to split from Syria”, and these accusations have been totally refuted by SDF and SDC leaders.
In an exclusive SOHR interview with a leading member of Syria Democratic Council (SDC), Majdouline Hussein clarifies that the “social contract” for Syria, which has been set by all backgrounds of the Autonomous Administration, aims to organise political and legal affairs in that region. Majdouline also emphasises that the “contract” never aims to split Syria and that it comes under “decentralization” which the Autonomous Administration hopes to achieve in Syria.
Q: After the commission entrusted to draft the “Syrian social contract” has accomplished its task, do you think that this draft will serve all backgrounds in north Syria region?
A: In fact, the commission that drafted the “social contract” included all people of all backgrounds in north and east Syria, and it reached a preliminary draft that will be discussed with other parties in order to make changes to meet the ambitions of the various north Syria region’s backgrounds (political, cultural, social, ethnic, sectarian and religious).
We are eager to keep the policy of exclusion aside or behind us and seek to study all the suggestions and proposals provided by all parties about this draft, so that all parties, movements and figures in the area do take part in reaching a final text.
Q: How can you respond to those parties that see the “contract” contravenes Syria’s unity and geographical and political sovereignty?
A: I do not think so. These repeated accusations are based on no legal evidence. We always state that our area is a part of Syrian territory. We adhere to Syria’s unity, and we have never observed any behaviour by any party in our area indicating to excluding any segments of Syria society or hinting at splitting from Syria. On the contrary, Syria Democratic Forces have protected Syria from being split and fought ISIS, and this is our duty, while those who accuse others of seeking to split from Syria, preferred to keep silent when our areas were attacked and occupied by Turkey.
“Syrian social contract” aims to organise political and legal affairs in the region under “decentralization” which the Autonomous Administration has been all along calling for since it’s foundation. That “contract” has never been a way for splitting any part of Syrian territory. When the dream of decentralization is reached in the future, every area may and can demand its social contract on condition that it will not contravene or negate the nation’s fundamentals, including the unity of Syria, the rights of Syrians to regain all areas occupied by foreign and regional powers.
Q: Which ideology is this contract based on? And has this contract cited or borrowed principles from elsewhere in the world, or is it pure AANES ideology?
A: The commission which drafted this “social contract” had put into consideration similar experiences and various philosophies about the nature of governance and systems around the world. The commission adopted analytical and consensual approach to reach this adjustable and flexible “contract”. We also confirm that this contract expresses a part of the ideology of this region. We should wait for the final draft or text, before we can judge this contract.
Q: The freefall of the Syrian currency has affected the economy in north Syria; how can this be dealt with in light of ongoing bombardment and obstacles set by regime and opposition factions hindering delivery of humanitarian aid?
A: It is common knowledge now that the economic situation of Syrians whether inside or outside Syria has been disastrous due to the protracted war, which consumed and destroyed all the resources of the homeland and split it. On the other hand, the presence of a tyrannical regime in power has exacerbated the situation further in light of inflation and unavailability of basic essentials due to the low salaries and ongoing freefall of the Syrian pound. In addition, the indirect impact of economic sanctions imposed on several parties has manifested itself in the dramatic repercussions which affected the Syrian people, let alone the ‘crossings crisis’, where lobbyists and gangs control those crossings through which all humanitarian aid enters the country. We call for a quick solution and a corrective policy, and the opening of additional crossings so that aid will reach those who are in need; and we also call for the lifting of sanctions that have adversely affected ordinary Syrians.
More attention has to be paid to the devastated infrastructure which needs to be rehabilitated in order to enable resumption of agriculture and industrial activities in the region, as well as starting small projects to help improve people’s income.
The recent Syrian currency plunge has followed wrongful political and economic ideology by the Syrian regime, as well as the impact of war and sanctions. Accordingly, the currency plunge has to be dealt through discussing the reasons behind it and attempting to reach workable solutions that may lead to helping ordinary people in all regions across Syria, especially with the “competition” by the powers controlling crossings through preventing delivery of humanitarian aid and rejecting opening new crossings to facilitate function of international organisations.
Q: Since June, local authorities in several areas in north-east and north-west Syria have forced residents to deal in Turkish lira instead of the Syrian pound. How much has this step affected your areas.
A: Dealing in the same currency in Syria would enhance the county’s unity and dismiss concerns about the disintegration of Syria. The decision adopted in areas occupied by Turkey and controlled by Turkish-backed factions poses a great threat to Syria, and all patriotic parties have to cooperate and confront such procedures. I think that regional interventions in Syria have been the major reason behind this disastrous situation, where these regional powers have aimed to either impose political and military influence or seize a part of the Syrian territory. Whatever the goals of these powers, we warn against the use of any currency instead of the Syrian pound, even if it aims to boost the economic situation. We hope that people will return to deal in our national currency.
What the Turkish government is doing in terms of Turkifying specific areas is a very dangerous precedent and indication, which paves the way for invasion, control of the region and annexing it to Turkey; and every Syrian patriot, who dreams of living in a unified country, see these reprehensible aspirations are completely unacceptable.
Q: Turkey has enlarged its investment in several fields, including health and education, supported local councils it established to administrate the areas it controls in north Syria, established post offices, adopted the Turkish currency and imposed teaching Turkish language at schools as a part of demographic change in north Syria. How dangerously are these practices affecting Syria’s social structure?
A: Turkey has cited its desire to prevent the formation of pure Kurdish entities in north Syria as an excuse to occupy Syrian territory by starting to change the demography of specific regions. Even Kurdish parties have never called for forming pure Kurdish entities, which proves that the Turkish claims are completely untrue and tendentious. The ramifications of the demographic change, which is a clear war crime, has to end immediately, so that Syrians can return to their homes and criminals will be held accountable. The current demographic change paves the way to an endless civil war or renew the conflict that has been relatively subsiding after the ceasefire agreement.
Q: You was a member of the AANES delegation for the latest consultative meeting in Stockholm on preparations for the “Conference of Democratic Forces and Figures”, what were the most prominent outcomes of this meeting?
A: The consultative meeting was held with cooperation with the international centre of “Olof Palme”. Before the meeting, the two sides agreed on the need to be in touch with all democratic forces and movements inside and outside Syria, along with developing a firm coordination commission representing all democratic Syrians as a part of continuous dialogue for facilitating the holding of the conference in the future. We also agreed on the importance of communication with civil gatherings, including feminist, youth, craft and union movements, and setting a schedule for holding the conference.
There is also a consensus on the following main points:
· The political regime is the major power responsible, constitutionally and legally, for the disastrous repercussions in Syria.
· The war criminals have to be punished.
· The process of transitional justice has to be activated as soon as possible.
We also stressed that any political settlements have to provide an achievable solution for the issue of displaced people and refugees, secure a safe return to their homeland, and help to set the detainees and kidnapped people free and disclose the fate of the missing and forcibly disappeared. While such political settlements have to be based on UN Resolutions, particularly the Resolution No. 2254 and Geneva I Statement.
Also, a political settlement has cling to democracy, exclude no other parties and emphasize the continuity of war against terrorism. All these principles need real cooperation by all Syrian democratic forces and the international community.