On Sunday, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) hosted a delegation consisting of Belgian MP Georges Dallemagne; Philippe Vansteenkiste, Director of Victims-Europe, Association for victims of terrorism, Belgium, and Rodi Melek, a member of French Association of Terrorism Victims (AFVT).
The Belgian delegation met with a committee of Executive Council of AANES and was received by the body’s co-chair Berivan Khalid and vice co-chair Joseph Lehdo.
The ongoing attacks by Turkey and its proxies in North East Syria including the forced displacement of civilians were among the topics discussed, according to ANHA.
Lehdo told ANHA that they shared information with the Belgian delegation about the situation in the areas liberated from ISIS, such as Raqqa (Reqa), Manbij (Minbic), Tabqa (Tebqa / Al-Thawrah) and Deir ez-Zor (Deir Al-Zour ).
Lehdo pointed out that political recognition of AANES is a critical issue for them because AANES executives find it hard to achieve economical growth in the region due to an embargo and ongoing besiegement of many towns, adding though that they are pleased to serve the people and be able to answer the needs of the people in a considerably short period of time.
Amongst the issues discussed with the degelation, Lehdo said, “There was the situation of those forciby displaced and the atrocities committed by the occupying Turkish state and affiliated gangs acting on their behalf, such as forcing people to leave their homes, expropriating people’s belongings and homes and the use of natural resources such as water as a weapons against the AANES in Ras al-Ain [Serêkaniyê], Tel Abyad [Girê Spî] and Afrin [Efrîn].”
At the end of the meeting, the Belgian delegation shared their committment to advocate the principles defended by the AANES based on the democratic co-existence of peoples.
As the European Union and any member states has not yet officially recognised AANES, it has been excluded from the peace talks in Geneva and Astana, in line with Turkey’s wishes.
Democratic Union Party (PYD), the leading party of the ruling council of the AANES, was excluded from peace talks backed by Russia and Turkey in Kazakhstan in 2017.
The PYD, founded in, 2003 functions as the leading party within the legislative body of the AANES.
Even though PYD officials have repeatedly expressed their willingness to negotiate with Turkey, Ankara continues to view the PYD as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which it has been engaged in a bloody conflict with for almost four decades and which it labels as a terrorist organisation.
Syrian Kurdish officials representing the AANES were not invited by the United Nations to attend peace talks on Syria in Geneva in 2016.
Saleh Muslim, co-president of the PYD criticised the exclusion of the PYD from the UN-sponsored negotiatons.
“We are representing a large number of people on the ground … so by excluding us they are not working well for a political solution,” he told Reuters.
AANES officials have repeatedly called for the political recognition of AANES, which now rules a one-third of Syria.
Most recently, French President Emmanuel Macron received a delegation from the AANES at the Élysée Palace in July. The meeting initiated upon Macron’s invitation was evalauted positively by the AANES officials, who said following the meeting that French officials ensured that France will provide support for the AANES region.