A woman gestures during the funeral of an Arab fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Qamishli on January 18, 2019. Photo: Delil Souleiman/AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The civilian administration of northern Syria wants to preserve its local councils, forces, and languages as it negotiates with Damascus, according to media with close ties to the Rojava authorities.
ANHA news agency reported on Saturday it obtained a list of 10 conditions defined by the self-autonomous administration as they negotiate with the Syrian regime.
The northern Syrian enclave has established a governance system based on the democratic confederalism philosophy of Abdullah Ocalan. They now control more than a quarter of the country, including long stretches of borders with Turkey and Iraq, farmlands of Hasakah, Raqqa city, oil fields of Deir ez-Zor, and Kurdish lands of Rojava.
Their existence is now under threat as their ally the United States begins to pull out of the country, leaving them exposed to a threatened Turkish offensive. Ankara considers the Kurdish forces a terror group.
The local administration, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), has opened talks with Damascus as it tries to save the system it has built.
The first item is the “unity of the Syrian land.” The autonomous administration has never sought independence, but rather wants to see greater federalism in a unified Syria.
The second point sees the autonomous administration as part of the “democratic republic” system of Syria. Representatives of the local administration will sit in the Syrian parliament and participate in the Damascus government, it detailed in the third point.
Fourthly, it wants official recognition of their flag side-by-side the Syrian banner.
Fifthly, diplomatic efforts of the northern Syrian territory will “not go against the interests of the Syrian people or the constitution.”
The autonomous administration also wants to see official recognition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-led armed force that has been trained and equipped by the global coalition against ISIS. It is a multi-ethnic force consisting of local units of Kurds, Arabs, and Christians.
The autonomous administration wants to see the SDF become “part of the Syrian army and be responsible for protecting the Syrian border.”
A second armed force, the Internal Security Forces that have also been trained by international allies, should not be disbanded, but should work with local councils “in a way not incompatible with the Syrian constitution,” reads the seventh point.
The eighth and ninth points address language. They acknowledged that Arabic is the official national language, but want to see education offered in the mother tongues of local populations.
Finally, the autonomous administration wants to see fair distribution of the wealth of the country across all regions.
Officials in Damascus have said they are "optimistic
" they will reach a deal with the Kurdish-led administration of northern Syria.
Russia, a key ally of the Syrian regime, is supporting a deal that would see Damascus regain control of northern Syria.