The message was clear, there is no place in all of Syria like northern Syria governed by the recently declared Syrian Democratic Council (SDC). The Co-chair of the SDC (MSD) Ilham Ehmed, a Kurd, along with representatives from the Syriac, Christian, and Yazidi Communities accompanied her in promoting the SDC model to the American representatives.
The SDC model composes of the 3 cantons of Jazira, Afrin and Kobane governed by a co-chair system, meaning each executive position is divided equally among men and women. The sharing of power among genders is rare in the Middle East, the model mandates that women can play critical roles and have the ability to change the course of the region as Ilham Ehmed has successfully done thus far. SDC delegates were introduced to different representatives by a pro-Israeli, pro-American Washington think tank, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), an organization that proudly stands by the Kurdish cause in Iraq and Syria.
The official languages spoken within the SDC are Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac, but all other traditional dialects are encouraged to be practiced. Histories of all religions are just as vital in schools: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Yazidism and even Zoroastrianism, an ancient Kurdish faith. Perhaps the most important points Ilham Ehmed made was that the SDC not only fights ISIS, but works to de-radicalize the region as well, ensuring greater security.
Ehmad clarified that the SDC is not working towards securing a Kurdish state, but has established a power sharing agreement among the many minorities in the region. She continued to state that this power sharing component equates to a democracy that is viewed as a threat by neighboring states such as Turkey. Anyone familiar with the conflict in northern Syria is well aware of Turkey’s meddling beyond its borders, activities meant only to disrupt Kurdish progress. The AKP government of president Erdogan fears the “SDC will be a bridge to a democratic Syria.” Ehmed encourages the US to see the danger Turkey poses, and that ISIS is only a temporary threat.
Turkey is not the only obstacle the SDC faces. Ehmed explains that due to the strong ties between Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Erdogan, it has been difficult for the region to receive necessary humanitarian aid including food and medical necessities. The KDP, which claims to represent the entirety of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, has closed off the borders between the two Kurdish regions. However, the KRG consists of many political factions that fully support the Kurds in Syria and the SDC. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Gorran party (Change) believe that it is vital to keep borders open and to remain close with fellow Kurds rather than those who aim to bring destruction.
The Co-President requests greater military assistance from the US and its new administration. Aside from military support, Ehmed asks for recognition and political backing for the new model they have introduced to the war ravaged country, as well as the lifting of the embargo that has been enforced. Northern Syria should no longer suffer under Assad and the other regional regimes of yester-year, she says.
The Autonomous administration is expected to open a representative office in Washington soon to bolster ties with the American people and institutions.
Originally published at Kurdish Question on January 27, 2017.