A delegation from the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES, also known as Rojava) arrived in Paris on 7 June and meetings with French politicians will continue until 11 June, according to ANHA.
The AANES delegation includes Hamdan Al-Abd, Co-Chair of the AANES Executive Council; Leila Mustafa, Co-Chair of the Civil Council of Rakka (Reqa); Gulistan Seydo, representative of the Foreign Relations Office of Rojava University; Ebdulselam Mistefa, Europe representative of AANES and Xalid İsa, France representative of AANES.
The AANES delegation had discussions with members of the Foreign Relations Committee of the French Parliament, led by John Louis Borlange, and has been addressing an expansive agenda – including discussing a ‘solution’ to the crisis in Syria, the role of France and European states in reaching a ‘solution’ in Syria, ‘recognition’ of AANES and the issue of detained ISIS members and their families.
Referring to the struggle of the Kurdish people, John Louis Borlange said Kurdish people have been “fighting for democracy, the rights of the Kurds, and the unity of other communities in Syria. They play an important role in establishing a democratic, stable state where everyone’s rights are guaranteed.”
Al-Abd expressed his gratitude to the people and government of France for supporting the AANES project, which promotes equality of peoples and respects multiculturalism and religious diversity. “Our visit came from an official invitation from France. We had the opportunity to discuss many issues. Many issues that pose an obstacle in Syria and in the North East region of Syria were discussed,” said Mustafa.
Mustefa shared detailed information regarding Raqqa and stated that the “reconstruction works” in Raqqa continue. “Conditions should be established in Raqqa for the people of Raqqa to return to their lands,” she said.
After first being established in Rojava (which means “west” in Kurdish, in a sense that it represents the western part of a ‘Greater Kurdistan’) in 2012 as a result of the Kurdish-led peoples’ struggles, AANES currently governs nearly one-third of Syria. Adopting a radically democratic political system developed by Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan – known as “democratic confederalism” – the system of AANES is based on women’s freedom and equal participation in all political representation levels as well as the autonomy and cooperation of communities and religiously diverse groups.
In its 2021 Annual Report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommended that the US government “recognise AANES as a legitimate, local government.”
The US Commission’s report called upon the US government to pressure Turkey to begin planning its withdrawal from the region. The new US administration under President Joe Biden has raised hopes in AANES that it may find more sympathy in Washington.
So far, the Biden administration has said little about its plans for Rojava, but the US Commission’s report puts some pressure on the Biden administration to clarify its position, particularly on the issue of ‘recognition’ of AANES.
Although the US government and other regional governments have refused to recognise AANES, it has been functioning as an autonomous region as several regions in northeastern Syria voted in March 2016 to join together in a self-governed system that would seek autonomy within Syria. Having been praised for its commitment to pluralism, gender equality and direct democracy, AANES continues to face several challenges, especially from Turkey (which has repeatedly attacked NE Syria), ISIS and the Bashar al-Assad government.