The peoples living in North and East Syria refused to take one of the two ‘sides’ in the Syrian war and created a “third” way, which has evolved into an autonomous system that has been taken as an alternative model of co-existence amidst the ongoing conflict.
A democratic civil government was born within 18 months of the Syrian war. Within the process of the building of such a civil autonomy, the peoples living in North and East Syria – alongside international revolutionaries – have waged a united battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and a range of jihadist groups, mainly backed by Turkey.
Established as a de facto autonomous region since 2012, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also knowns as Rojava, has been taken as a model of a secular system based on gender equality wherein women occupy key and equal roles with men in all important positions.
The peoples in North and East Syria have organised themselves at all levels of governance, forming administrative, legal, executive and military bodies based on the principles of equal representation.
The Democratic Syrian Assembly (MSD) announced its decision on 16 July 2018 regarding a joint system that would be established for the coordination of the administrative functioning of the Autonomous Administration. On 6 September 2018, 70 representatives from North and East Syria held a meeting in Ain Issa and the MSD organised a committee to officially establish AANES.
Consisting of a General Assembly of the Autonomous Administration, an Executive Assembly and a Justice Assembly, AANES has founded a legal system of its own based on restorative justice, which prohibits torture and the death penalty, includes female judges and combines accountability with other forms of transitional justice.
“AANES has become an important component of Syria. It relies on a strong social background”, said Syrian politician Semir Ezam in an interview with ANHA. “Peoples’ Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) also play a key role in defending North and East Syria. They have protected the people in the region against Syrian armed gangs and the attacks of the Turkish state”.
One of the significant achievements of the initiative, observes Ezam, is the international role of AANES. “The joint works conducted by the AANES with the international coalition in the battle against the jihadist gangs also shows their significant role”, Ezam observed.
After all, there is deadlock in Syria, Ezam asserts: “The only way to solve the ongoing conflicts with the jihadist gangs would be possible if the Western countries officially recognised AANES. The states who formed a military alliance with AANES should officially recognise it and further improve their relations with the Autonomous Administration”.