This podcast focuses on the historic resolution passed in the Catalan Parliament recognising the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), the first such political recognition by any parliament.
When the news first came through that the Parliament of Catalonia passed a resolution that included the recognition of AANES also known fondly as Rojava, there was an enormous sponteanous Twitterstorm of people on Twitter, expressing their joy and optimism.
We don’t often get the chance to share that little bit of optimism. I think after this news, I feel that little bit of optimism.
I know that there are challenges ahead, of course, but hopefully many Kurdish activists and internationalists who work on the Rojava revolution and in solidarity with the Kurds will just feel a little bit more strengthened by this news of recognition of AANES.
I spoke in this podcast to Amina Hussein, a Kurdish journalist and activist from Qamishlo, who has been living in Barcelona – the captial city of Catalonia – for the past 15 years.
Amina has been closely following the journey of the Catalan parliamentary resolution that politically recognises AANES. She was also inside the Catalan parliament when the results of the resolution were announced and expresses her feelings at that time.
I am happy to say that we were also joined in the podcast by Saleh Muslim, a key member of the Co-Presidency Council of the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Speaking from his home in Qamishli in AANES, Saleh Muslim is very well known to our followers and readers as he has been one of the most prominent Kurdish representatives during much of the Syrian civil war.
‘A victory for the people of Rojava and Catalonia’
Speaking through a translator in Kurdish, Amina explained how the work for the resolution of recognition began and the passage of the resolution to the parliament and also what the atmosphere was like inside the Catalan parliament when the final votes were cast.
Amina described how this adventure started a few months ago: “Prior to this approval process, how to support Rojava and how Rojava resembled the history of Catalonia has been publicly speculated over in Catalonia.
“I can say that since last year, there has been some communication between Catalan politicians and North East Syria,” she noted, adding, “A delegation from Catalonia visited North East Syria and witnessed all the experiences in the field.”
The delegation that travelled to Rojava and returned to Catalonia later proposed this resolution to the Catalan Parliament, Amina said.
She stated that Covid-19 conditions, the drought and the harsh conditions of daily life there influenced the Catalan delegation so much that it inspired them to prepare this resolution that included the recognition of AANES.
“The three parties who proposed this resolution were the parties that led the independence of Catalonia, as well. They saw how the situation was there and wanted to be of assistance. These ideas began to be developed after seeing the situation there.”
The recognition is a victory for the people of Rojava and Catalonia, Amina concludes. “We all remembered all those invaded cities of Rojava – Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê – and the cries of mothers, and all those who passed away, the martyrs including in the person of Hevrîn Khalaf. This recognition of Rojava by the Catalonia parliament is a great victory of the revolutionaries for the people, and of our people. I wish this will be an example for the rest of the countries,” she said.
‘People are recognising us … and we know that this is the first step’
Saleh Muslim explained what this resolution means for the people of North and East Syria and what it could mean for an eventual political settlement of the ongoing war in Syria. Muslim shared that they have been closely following the discussions in Catalonia.
“The Catalan delegation visited Rojava knew what AANES was looking for. People have been blaming us for ‘separatism,’ but this is not what we do: we are a part of the opposition and the delegation has seen this.”
He described how he and his collegaues were very happy to hear the news: “We feel very happy when we hear that people are recognising us, following what we are doing, that they consider that our struggle is their struggle and that they are beside us. This step, taken by the Catalonian people, is evidence of that,” he said.
“Of course, we are very thankful to the Parliament of Catalonia to take this big step to recognise the administration. We are used to hearing from our colleagues and from people that ‘we have no friends other than our mountains.’ But now, people are recognising us as a friend and we know that this is the first step,” he said.
The Basque Country may be the ‘second’ to recognise AANES
Muslim shared his hopes that similar steps will now be taken by other parliaments and countries. He referred to a friend of his from the Basque Country, almost hinting about the possible second parliament to recognise AANES: “One friend from the Basque Country just told me in the morning: ‘We are going to be the second one to recognise you.’ So this first step will be followed by the next.”
Muslim stressed that AANES has a long way to go, but the path will be taken, step by step, and therefore this first step is so meaningful to them, he said.
“What we are presenting is known by the world. More than five million people live in AANES. We feel that we represent all of Syria, considering the diversity of different ethnicities and cultures living in AANES. So, we hope other countries will follow Catalonia.”