“We determined our own principles for the solution to the crisis in Syria”
Northern Syria Democratic Federation Co-chair Hediye Yusuf: We declared the federation project for the solution to the Syrian crisis, it is a part of the solution. We made this decision together with all the peoples of the Emancipated Northern Syria.
Northern Syria Democratic Federation Co-chair Hediye Yusuf: We declared the federation project for the solution to the Syrian crisis, it is a part of the solution. We made this decision together with all the peoples of the Emancipated Northern Syria. At the same time, this project and treaty aimed for and foresaw such a solution. In the search for a solution to the Syrian crisis in the framework of certain principles, we determined our own principles. We are the only force in the region that has concrete projects in the current situation in the region."
Despite threats and invasion moves by the Turkish state, as the operation Wrath of Euphrates continues to liberate Raqqa, the Northern Syria Democratic Federation is put into practice step by step with the decisions taken in the 2nd Constituent Assembly meeting held by the end of 2016. In such an atmosphere, can the meeting to be held in Astana on January 25 by Russia, Iran, the Baath regime and Turkey for the solution of the Syria crisis bear results when the solution of the Northern Syria Democratic Federation is ignored?
ANF spoke with Northern Syria Democratic Federation Co-chair Hediye Yusuf on the reactions to the federation project and their plans for the future, the Turkish state’s threats and invasion moves towards the North, the Raqqa operation and the Astana meetings.
In the 2nd Northern Syria Democratic Federation meeting held by the end of 2016, your social contract and political document were approved. In a way, this means your federation project being put into practice. What were the regional and international reactions to this?
The actual declaration of the federation was back in March. There were reactions against our project from both internal and external powers. The regime and the Syrian opposition, also states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar claimed Syria would fragment with the federation and protested. Undoubtedly, they still hadn’t understood the content of our project, and the regime and the opposition were working to slander the project. They tried to make this project misunderstood. But later, due to meetings with internal powers, the states in the region and the international states our project was better understood.
THERE WERE NO NEGATIVE REACTIONS OTHER THAN THE TURKISH STATE
We can say that we have positive results by the end of a 8-month long effort. We tried to explain to especially our base in Northern Syria with what purpose the Federation was declared, what the Federation means, how it will defend the rights of nations, how the nations will take part in this system. And that strengthened the unity inside against the foreign politics, and we were able to promote our project better in diplomatic relations. Thus, with the approval of the social contract in the second meeting, the content for the foundation of our system was determined. 165 people approved this contract, the process was open to the public. It was shared through several channels. Up to now, the general reception has been positive. It was considered a positive move by the regional and international states. Some circles even sent celebratory messages because it’s a democratic project. In short, there were no negative reactions.
It was only the Turkish state that objected to this project. Because the Turkish state has plans to invade Northern Syria. Thus, they consider a democratic project to possibly develop in Northern Syria against their interests. Other than Turkey, generally, everybody considers this project positive and appropriate.
The most important situation for us is the peoples and nations of Syria to support and actually demand this project. Because they all can find themselves in this project.
The Turkish state’s invasion moves in Northern Syria continue. The word is that this invasion was extended with some preparation and Erdoğan threatening Manbij after it was liberated from ISIS. What do you think about this?
AKP’s policies in both Turkey and Syria/Rojava have failed. Turkey is experiencing a great defeat. And now they are facing defeat within a vast game. Erdoğan is just running. Like a man holding on to a snake not to drown, he thinks maybe he can get away. Turkey’s threats actually show they can’t do anything, that they are desperate. Erdoğan can only make promises and threats.
ERDOĞAN SOLD THE OPPOSITION OUT
Undoubtedly, the Turkish state invading some regions in Northern Syria caused large scale reactions. Not only did all the peoples of Northern Syria protested, everybody else objected to this too. But in the current situation, there is a war. The Syrian people consider the Turkish state policies supporting terrorism as part of the annihilation politics. In this sense, the Turkish state let down the Syrian opposition they supported. They sold out Jarablus and Bab in return for the invasion. The opposition is now bankrupt. The failing of Syrian opposition means the failing of the Turkish state. The Syrian opposition moved out of many places like Dareya, Aleppo, etc. That created a new political balance. And the Turkish state entering Syria disturbed everybody. We were disturbed the most because we have the most interest in Northern Syria. The Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Turkmens and other groups living in Northern Syria are not happy with this. We are living on our own lands, and we are building a system based on these lands. Thus we have legitimacy. The external invading force is the Turkish state. For this reason, we have the right to defend ourselves in the face of these attacks and attempts at invasion, and we will make the Turkish state sorry they invaded Northern Syria and we will defeat them, with all our might.
ERDOĞAN KNOWS HE’S BEEN DEFEATED, THAT’S WHY HE THREATENS
Erdoğan is aware that he has been defeated, but they don’t want to admit. Despite all, he keeps saying, “I will enter Manbij and Raqqa”. Does he think the regional forces, the US, Iran, Russia, the peoples of Syria, the peoples of the Middle East will accept this? Even now, Dubai has protested the Turkish state making a deal with Iran and Russia. They said, “The Turks tricked us.” Saudi Arabia also said the same thing. ISIS also says the Turkish state tricked them. Actually, the Turkish state is in a very threatened and weak position now. For example, both openly and in deep politics, Russia is a force to drag Turkey to the quicksand. This is how they are exacting their revenge on the Turkish state. Turkey is calculating a successful way out of this crisis but their defeat is certain.
The Operation Wrath of Euphrates launched to liberate the ISIS capital Raqqa continues successfully. How will the liberation of Raqqa affect the Northern Syria Democratic Federation?
The emancipation of Manbij increased legitimacy for our forces and showed that we are the real force in the region. If Raqqa were to also be taken, it will develop our legitimacy for Syria in general. These cities will need a leading force, a force that can do organizing. The emancipation of Raqqa will prove SDF’s legitimacy throughout Syria and it will be accepted. Thus, it will cause us to make our mark for the solution in the Syrian crisis. Because the people of the region themselves are fighting, with a new style, confidence and faith in the struggle. Raqqa is important to us in this sense, and the success will open the way for important political developments.
Is Raqqa city a part of the Northern Syria Democratic Federation?
Cities like Manbij and Raqqa are free to join the federation systems if they so will. The liberated areas are slowly building their autonomous administrations and their assemblies. For example, the city of Manbij built their assembly. We don’t force any area to join the federation borders. We take the will of nations as a base. If the Manbij assembly takes such a decision, then they will be part of the federation. The same goes for Raqqa. If they accept our contract, they can join too. The Raqqa operation is still underway, so it’s too early to say anything in any case.
All three Geneva meetings held by the international powers for a solution to the Syrian crisis up to date have failed to produce results, but now there is word that talks in Astana will start on January 25 with the same goal. Have you received any official invitations for the Northern Syria Democratic Federation, which is also a project for a solution?
We declared the federation project regarding the solution to the Syrian crisis, this is part of the solution. We took this decision together with all the peoples in the Emancipated Northern Syria. At the same time, this project and treaty aimed for and foresaw such a solution. In the search for a solution to the Syrian crisis in the framework of certain principles, we determined our own principles. We are the only force in the region that has concrete projects in the current situation in the region. The peoples of Northern Syria have taken the first practical steps towards a solution and tried to develop it.
None of the forces outside of Northern Syria who spent efforts and tried to organize could develop a solution. Because they didn’t consider the will of the peoples of the region, the current conditions and the reality. The first, second and third Geneva meetings, the Cairo and Moscow meetings failed to produce results. These efforts have been in place for the last 6 years, and they produce no result. Because they didn’t take their strength from the actual nations and the peoples. They were based on external views and powers. They eliminated many powers and didn’t take the actual power seriously. Thus, instead of development and solution, the issue got even deeper and more complex. And the peoples of Syria were forced to pay a price that kept on getting higher for it. The meeting in Astana will be one of these meetings.
IN THIS WAY, THE ASTANA MEETINGS HAVE FAILED BEFORE THEY START
Along with Turkey, Russia and Iran, everybody is pushing their own conditions and stance. Most recently for this, some armed forces present in Syria will convene in the Astana meeting. If it happens in this way, we can say that the Astana meetings will have failed before they even start. Because they aren’t based on the peoples of the region, but mostly on some armed forces. Armed forces can’t bring any solution in Syria. Just a weak ceasefire won’t be a solution to the problems in Syria. Also, what the negotiations will develop over, what the projects will be based on are not clear. So we can foresee that this meeting will be a failure. Again, as an essential power in the region we haven’t been invited. If we are, our proposals for the solution are clear. The Turkish state is against us being invited. They don’t want us there because we have actual projects for a solution that can be discussed. The forces in the meeting are not on the same page on this. We don’t believe any solution that will be developed in this manner will result in a success. Because as an essential force, we weren’t included, and that in itself shows that this won’t carry out in a democratic framework and it will just be in line with their own interests.
Despite all that has happened, the Northern Syria Democratic Federation continues to be put into practice. In this line, what are your plans and goals for the coming period?
We have taken some decisions after the second meeting. This assembly will continue to work until the Democratic Congress of Peoples is formed. We need election laws to guide the coming period well, and these laws will be passed in the future. When the laws are ready, we will have an election. There will be such a preparation. The foundation for this will be prepared. Starting from the communes, up to the Democraic Congress of Peoples, elections will continue. Another point is that the executive assembly will supervise this election process. The execution has already elected their two co-chairs. Roza Yusuf and Senarhi Bersom were elected co-chairs. They will prepare the foundation for the election process and will carry out their efforts in three committees.
With the diplomacy rounds, relationships in the Middle Eastern countries and abroad will be developed further to garner stronger support. This diplomacy committee will try to develop relationships with all groups interested in the Syrian crisis. Translating the social contract, sending it out, letters and other methods etc., the press-information committee will actively follow up on this process and will play a role in the concrete practical steps of the project. The other committee will wait until all laws are ready to be able to conduct the election efforts. The assembly will be responsible for the practical steps to be taken in the framework of the social contract.
We need to prepare in the right way for the elections and we need to be organized in order for us to represent our own will. We want our peoples to take part in the process in a heightened awareness. This is quite important for us. This will to be elected will govern Syria. We need to prepare ourselves for the process with a democratic will that is distanced from the narrow national interests. We celebrate the approval of the social contract for all our peoples of Syria. We believe we will take great steps in Northern Syria and Syria in general and we trust in our own power.