Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria announces postponement days ahead of controversial inaugural polls, citing more time needed to canvas and invite international election observers, while the multiethnic war-torn region remains determined on its democratic pathway to security and peace.

Pioneering elections scheduled for 11 June in northern Syrian cantons governed by the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) have been postponed until August, the region’s High Election Commission has ruled. Participating parties requested more time to ensure democratic processes were upheld, in what will be the first polls since the autonomous region launched its innovative social contract late last year.

Top Syrian-Kurdish politician Salih Muslim said yesterday, shortly before the final decision, that despite the participating parties’ postponement requests the polls would take place to the discretion of the Kurdish-led region, regardless of international objections. The postponement decision of the High Electoral Commission, he stressed, would “of course” be respected.

Two coalitions, three parties, and several independents filed to run in the election, some of which made the postponement request to be able to canvas more thoroughly, and give time to invite international election observers to monitor the polls.

It has been speculated that the delay was prompted by objections recently made by the US, who alleged insufficient standards were in place for “free and fair elections” as specified in UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The US is allied with the AANES’ military wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the Global Coalition Against ISIS, yet refuses to respect the administration’s political legitimacy.

Nevertheless, pro-regime leaks revealed “the Biden administration’s intention to accelerate the recognition of an SDF-controlled Kurdish canton in northeastern Syria ahead of the American presidential elections in November.”

The elections are the first since the AANES launched late last year its innovative social contract, acting as a constitution defining the governing principles of progressive grassroots, multiethnic, women-led eco-democracy.

Three million voters are eligible to go to the inaugural polls, from the administrative cantons of Al-Jazeera (Cizîrê), Deir ez-Zor (Dêrezor), Raqqa (Reqa), Al-Furat (Firat) – including Kobani (Kobanê), Manbij (Minbic), Afrin (Efrîn), Al-Shahba (Şehba) and al-Tabqa (Tabqa).

Regional tensions have been exacerbated by Turkish military offensives, culminating in warnings that the AANES would come under direct military attack should the elections take place. Turkish drones already killed four SDF fighters over the weekend and injured a dozen civilians.