OFFICIAL Document of the Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria
MESOP : PRODUCED WITH A HELPING HAND OF PETER GALBRAITH
Document of the Democratic Federal System of Rojava -Northern Syria
Chaos and societal crisis continue in Syria and the Middle East, because external parties’ intervention is part of the crisis and one of its causes. Options to solve the crisis remain pointless and foreign intervention has complicated the situation and deepened the crisis further. Despite the attempts by the United Nations and the international coalition forces, the Syrian war continues and has become one of the greatest tragedies in the contemporary history of humanity. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, cities have been destroyed and there are now millions of refugees, all indicating a major disaster in Syria and Kurdistan. We are in a phase more extreme and brutal than the Mongol invasions and conquests, and a darker period than Al Jahiliyyah. Syria today is witnessing an extraordinary phase of massacres – an unbearable burden on human conscience.
Where are things going? This is a question being asked on a daily basis. Answers and options that have been proposed are ineffective. Both Geneva 1 and Geneva 2 were unable to bring about a solution and Geneva 3 is also expected to fail. By looking at the conditions of the negotiations in Geneva and presenting forces that share the same mentality of ISIS as the sole representative of the opposition, it is difficult to reach a permanent solution for the crisis and might in fact have serious negative results. Since the start of the crisis and despite all the sacrifices that have been made by nations of the region, the will of the people has not been taken into consideration. Therefore, it is difficult to reach a permanent social solution in Syria, Kurdistan and the region.
Surely this is the era of the peoples, the nations of the Middle East, who have fought historic battles against the tyranny of the nation-state, the hegemony of power and capital. The people have decided to say NO to all this and have screamed for building a free, democratic and just society and world. Unfortunately, they have been unsuccessful, because they lacked the sufficient organisation and awareness, and have been abused by outside forces. The people’s spring might turn into autumn, just like the “Arab spring” if nations and societies do not live up to the level of achieving their goals of freedom and equality and do not resist in an organised manner.
The popular revolutionary movement has created great hopes for the people of the Middle East. In order to achieve the democratic goals of the revolution, this popular movement has a historic responsibility to end the chaos and crisis, to put together the foundations of a peaceful co-existence of nations through democracy, and to achieve a democratic union. Therefore, federal solutions and systems, which represent the will of the people and nations, is an urgent need at this stage.
Historical Development, Social Problems in the Middle East, Syria and Kurdistan and the Current Situation.
In order to find a comprehensive solution, a meaning needs to be given to the historical development and the accumulated problems the old nations of the Middle East have 2
gone through. Since the dawn of history, Mesopotamia has been the home of free and natural life and agricultural society and the first civilisation. The land of heaven, or the fertile crescent, is the current geography that includes Syria, Lebanon and Kurdistan. In this land and for the first time in history, humanity achieved its first revolution – the Neolithic Revolution, which was a revolution that could be compared, in its importance, to the Industrial Revolution of the 16th century in Europe. It also established the culture of gods, free life that grew around women, the political and ethical developments which led to resisting tribalism that remain relevant even today. Those noble values have perpetuated humanity and its ethics. The effects, heritage and culture of the Neolithic era remain relevant and valid in the daily life of community. The free-life communal villages in Tell Halaf preserved their presence under tens of hills, scattered around the foothills of the Taurus Mountains.
The Sumerian civilisation was the creation of the Middle East and Mesopotamia. It developed in accordance with the values of the Neolithic era and until today, it remains the mother source of all eastern and western civilisations. It also established, for the first time in history, the city system, country, kingdom, class, ziggurats, legends, irrigation, written literature, arts and science. The Sumerian civilisation was a rigid central system more than the civilisations that followed such as, the Egyptian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Median, Persian, Greek and Roman. The other face of civilisation is represented in the history of invasion, occupation, violence, war and colonialism. In contrast, the resistance and struggle of nations, represented in the resistance of Assyrians, Arameans, Babylonians, Amorites, Mitannis, Hurrians, Kassites, Hittites and Medians, who played a historic role in the development of civilisation.
The history of our region, where our people live, is filled with the living memories of this rich history. Archaeological sites, such as Palmyra, Mari, Ebla and Ugarit effect and direct our life.
The emergence of Abrahamic religions was one of the main pillars of the evolving revolutionary resistance against idolatry. They have played an important historical role in the development of moral values in the communities of the Middle East.
Teachings and ethics of prophets are continuous for thousands of years and have become a constant appeal to the conscience of a just society against injustice and oppression. Preventing immoral life has become a constitution, engrained in the memory of the Middle East societies. The struggle of prophets has become a source of inspiration for the survival of society. Zarathustra’s struggle to establish social justice, Moses’ fight against the oppression of Pharaoh, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ because of his struggle to achieve equality among the people, and the well-known resistance of Prophet Mohamed and his revolutionary Islam against inequality are all examples of the historical development of struggle for justice and rights. Moreover, the teachings of Islam are the example of an orderly democratic society in the Medina Document, which established the rules of peaceful co-existence and criminalised bloodshed. However, the principles and teachings of Islam were abused to serve the political and authoritarian goals of the elite during the Umayyad and Abbasid eras. It became more apparent during the Ottoman empire and the atrocities committed by the sultans, including 3
massacres against the Armenians, Assyrians, Syriacs, Kurds, Arabs and other peoples of the region.
The last appearance of the central system in the Middle East was with the Islamic civilisation and all the interventions of the Renaissance against the accumulated problems of the progress towards the year 1200, had not been successful. It lived an era of decadence, crises and the worsening of problems, especially after losing the battle against the rise of western European civilisation, which stripped it from its leading role. The issue that has been living until today, the “East issue”, began after the dominance of the European central civilisation system and its move towards the region in 1800. For 200 years, capitalist modernity has been penetrating the region in various forms, adding new problems to the traditional ones, especially in the last century, which culminated in nation-state building, which in turn divided the region and has become a cause for chaos, conflicts and wars.
It is well-known that one of the main reasons for WW1 was the conflict over sharing the Middle East. Following the end of the war and the triumph of the Allied Powers, the region was divided according to the balance of power and interests. In 1916, the Sykes-Picot Agreement divided the Middle East and created new artificial states and borders that only reflect the hegemonic views of imperialist powers. This project gained its legitimacy during the San Remo Conference on 24/04/1920 and became a regional system in that century. European countries agreed on the distribution of spheres of influence and placed Palestine under the British mandate according to the Balfour Declaration. Therefore, global hegemonic powers divided and shared the region among themselves without any consideration for its ethnic and religious foundation. They created new states and divided the Kurds, Assyrians, Syriacs, and Arabs and other ethnic and religious groups, such as the Yazidis. The Assyrian massacres, Sayfo, led to demographic change. Iraq, Jordan and Palestine were considered a British sphere of influence and both Syria and Lebanon belonged to the French sphere of influence and the map of the region was redrawn. In the Arabian Peninsula, communities have, throughout history, lived a cultural and ethnic partnership. However, Arab society was divided into more than 20 pieces. Iraq, as we know it today, is the form that was set out by the British by unifying Basra, Mosul and Baghdad – each one of them was an Ottoman province. King Faisal bin Hussein was then installed as king and was promised to become the future king of the greater Arab kingdom and the caliphate of Islam. However, when the French learned of the plan, they rejected it and imposed the partition of the region. Between 1916 and 1926, the Kingdom Hejaz was established, consisting of Mecca, Medina, Riyadh and Hejaz, which became known later as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Following the defeat of the Ottomans by the English and their allied Hashemite forces in 1918, Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein established a government and administration in Damascus and declared Syria a kingdom. However, the French controlled Syria after ordering Prince Faisal to leave in 1920. At the end of 1920, the states of Damascus, Aleppo, Alawites, and Druze were established together with an autonomous state in the Sanjak of Alexandretta. In 1922, the Syrian federal state was established, which included Damascus, Aleppo, and Mount Alawites. This federal state was abolished in 1924 and by the end of 1925 and early 1926, the State of Aleppo was 4
merged with the State of Damascus to establish the State of Syria. All other states, including Al Jazeera area or what was called the “beak of a duck”, which was an autonomous region given to Kurdish, Syriacs and Arabic tribes, were merged with the State of Syria. Following the withdrawal of the French, Syria witnessed conflicts over power and authority and 7 different military coups since independence and until 1970. There were similar problems in all Arab countries.
The mandate system and old colonial powers ran the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. However, after WW2, they left behind new nation states, which were established by bureaucrats. The colonial powers brought Faisal to power in Iraq and promised him to rule over the Great Arab State. They also brought the first advocate of Arab nationalism, Sati’ al-Husri, to Iraq – an ideology that was later developed by the ideological founding fathers of the Baath Party in Syriia, Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. Following the establishment of the Baath Party, which spread the venom of nationalism and intolerance, Michel Aflaq was exiled to Jordan and then to Venezuela by the same regime that he established. He later returned to Iraq entering a long battle against the regime in Syria.
The Baath Party came to power in Iraq and Syria in 1963 as a result of military coups led by power-hungry nationalist army officers. They sought political goals through deceiving the people of both countries by using Islamic and nationalist rhetoric and they also used socialist slogans to gain the support of the Soviet Union. Domestically, the socialist rhetoric served as a tool to deceive the proletariat. It was not socialism, but rather capitalist modernity preparing its materialistic foundation for 200 years. Since the Islamic religion and belief is very strong in the Middle East and Arab society, it was necessary to take the glamour of Islam. In fact they had nothing to do with Islam, but they used Islam to achieve their own political agendas.
The main feature of the rule of the Baath Arab Socialist Party was the reproduction of slavery. For Baathists, power meant hegemony, violence and torture of citizens. When examining the Baath’s alleged development of Arab unity, it is important to know the reasons for its failure and to understand its true intentions. The United Arab Republic (1958-1961) was established as a union between Syria and Egypt. It lasted for 3 years, and cannot be described as a union, because it experienced many problems and its goal was not the construction of a united democratic society. Each side tried to dominate the other and become a tyrant. Power was the only motivation and objective. Rather than achieving unity, its leaders deepened division which reached an unimaginable level.
Similarly, in Syria, the power of the authoritarian state, established by the Baath Party, was turned into a violent militarised machine, producing citizens like slaves. Intelligence and security services had made society bleed, especially the Kurds, whose national identity, language, rights and culture were denied. The policy of Arabisation became the basic policy and thousands of Kurds were stripped of their national identity, which made them foreigners in their own country. An Arab cordon/belt was established, which brought thousands of Arabs and settled them in Kurdish villages. Denial, Arabisation, injustice, genocide, violence and torture were the policies and practices applied against the Kurds and everybody else who stood against them. On 5
12/03/2004, dozens of houses and properties, owned by Kurds, were burned down. The Kurds were not the only ones affected by the policy of Arabisation, which had had negative impact on Arabs as well. This policy deepened the division between peoples and developed hatred and distrust as well. Similar to other peoples in Syria, Assyrians, Syriacs, and Armenians, who have rich histories, also suffered from Arabisation and the denial of their rights, language and culture. Those nations are the memory of the Middle East and their societies are very advanced in art, science and culture. Controlling those societies and keeping them under pressure and hegemony delayed their development and had a negative impact on the development of Syria. It is clear that the authority holds power, not the Arab people, who develop those types of inhumane and oppressive policies. Those forces that control the state for their own agendas had become like beasts that consume society. The main reason for chaos and the current crisis in Syria is the Baathist regime’s exclusionary, blood and violent policies against the peoples of Syria.
Undoubtedly, the continuation of chaos in Syria is not limited to the pressure from the regime only – the regime in fact is on the verge of collapse – but the support of outside forces to this regime, without which it would have not survived for more than a few months. Therefore, international and regional powers, including Turkey, as well as the regime, are to blame for the current situation in Syria. Turkey and its regional allies have helped, organised and developed ISIS, Jabhet Al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham and other inhumane organisations that have become tools for the destruction of humanity. Those forces have plagued the peoples of the region, especially the Kurds, and pose a direct threat to the forces of the democratic opposition. Those inhumane forces that are supported by Turkey pose a threat to our people – a threat that surpasses Hitler’s fascism. The immediate task is to liquidate those terrorist groups and save society from its evil. It is time for the international forces and the United Nations to assume its theoretical and practical responsibilities.
The Democratic Nation’s Solution and Democratic Federalism in Syria
It is clear that the developments in the Middle East and Syria and the destruction have been caused by the oppressive nation-states. Societies therefore cannot be ruled by the old style of governance of oppressive states. The era of the nation-state has passed. It is in fact the era of a democratic society. It is a period of democratic nations and the establishment of federations, similar to the EU, which has realised this fact. The EU rarely gives a true value to this model through developing democratic norms and conventions in order to solve problems via dialogue and consensus. Unity, brotherhood and communal life are deeply-rooted in the history and culture of the Middle East more than Europe. Despite the fragmentation and marginalisation of Middle Eastern societies that have taken place under the nation-state model by the ruling elite, the peoples have chosen to live together peacefully. Nations and societies did not know policies of hatred, hostility and border drawing. Internal and external hegemonic powers are those who complicate those issues and create conflicts. 6
In this case, the realistic solution in Syria is the democratic nation model and democratic federalism is the ideal choice for the development of solutions. Bypassing the fanatic nation-state structure, might create a possibility to solve social issues by democratic means.
Accordingly, finding permanent solutions for issues cannot be possible with the existence of the nation-state. We must switch to the democratic nation. Moreover, all international consultations about the future of Syria revolved around the central state system. The perception of a decentralised Syria is the option that all influential international powers are currently considering. We, as a popular democratic opposition, have from the very beginning proposed democratic federalism as a solution for Syria, which has proved to be a correct and accurate solution. On this basis, the Syrian state and the social order must commit to rebuild and renew the political, legal, defence, social, intellectual and economic structures in Syria based on democracy. In addition, a democratic social contract that guarantees the fundamental rights and independence of all peoples and social groups. This social contract must also guarantee rights and characteristics of communities which will shape the administrative form in Syria (The Syrian Democratic Federalism).
In Syria, neither a single tyrannical regime nor the fragmentation of peoples are suitable. Those methods can only bring about endless wars and massacres. Democratic federalism is the only way that guarantees peoples’ rights in a united democratic system based on a clear global vision and the theoretical and intellectual power of the philosophy of the social democratic system. It is the democratic society system that is based on voluntary union between peoples and groups, which live in a free, equal and just society. In this system, societies are equal and an ethnic group or a religious group cannot dominate others. Societies will retain its unique identity and freedom within this system. Therefore, democratic federalism is the way to ensure the democratic independence, found between areas and groups.
What is required is a degree of self-sufficiency for each region and a place in the democratic federalism. Society must recognise that the embodiment of the ecological, democratic and balanced society necessitates joining a large union while maintaining its identity in a democratic federal system. This system is not for Syria only but to solve the deep-rooted and complex historical and social problems in the Middle East. In this case, a democratic federalism in Syria is made up of Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmen, Chechens, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Alawaites and Yazidis and other ethno-religious groups.
When organising the federal regions in Syria according to the new administrative, political and social system, the current regional issues and the social situation must be considered within the Syrian unity. In addition, the number and quality of federal regions must be taken into account through an agreement between local communities and their representatives rather than an individualistic decision imposed on them.
All communities have the right to use their mother tongue in all areas of public life, including education and teaching, and also the right to practice their religious rites freely. Institutions or organisations that run the affairs of society do not have the right 7
to speak on behalf a religious group. The administration must be based on the respect of all religions and sects, and must be democratic and maintains neutrality.
In the Syrian democratic federalism, we must pledge to commit ourselves to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations and other human rights conventions.
The Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria
The democratic nation system and the democratic federal system are the most suitable and feasible option to discuss the situation in Syria. In addition, it is unlikely to reach other options to solve the Syrian problems. Therefore, establishing a federal democratic system in Rojava and northern Syria is a necessity for historical and social reasons that can be summarised as follows:
The region of northern Syria and Rojava has historically been a region of relations between Aryan and Semitic tribes that lived there and the centre of the Neolithic Revolution. When we mention the agricultural village community – its features remain relevant today – we remember northern Syria and Rojava Kurdistan. We can see the traces of all civilisations here. It is a mosaic of peoples and communities that have lived together throughout history. It is known that Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and Turkmens and Chechens and other peoples and groups have lived in peace in this region for hundreds of years. This geography, as far as it represents the north of Syria, is the region that means Rojava Kurdistan and the Syriacs and Assyrians call it, Beth Nahrain, so each community calls it something different according to their historical and social perspective. Undoubtedly, it is the natural and democratic approach. Each name has a value, so the Democratic Federalism of Rojava – Northern Syria is based on the heritage of prophets and the elders who addressed the conscience and sought truth and justice for humanity. It derives its strength from the rich culture of Mesopotamia and the democratic communal structure of the natural society, which rejected the society of a centralised state since the clan system and throughout the history until the present day.
As for the current situation, it is linked to political and military developments. The crisis has entered its 6th year and Rojava Kurdistan, especially Kobani has witnessed the most violent clashes in this war. Kobani has written the greatest epic of heroism in this century. Despite the size of ISIS, which included members of 80 different countries, the resistance and struggle of YPG, YPJ, the Syriac Security Office, Al Sanadeed, Asayesh and all other military units, and members of the Democratic Syrian Forces, was very impressive. This is a fact that has been affirmed by the democratic and progressive peoples of the world. It is the victory of the hard-working Syrian people.
Certainly, the war is not over yet, and we cannot think that it has come to a historic turning point. Peoples in the region, especially the Kurds, have fought to live together in a just, free and democratic country. These were also the aims of the “Arab spring.” The revolutionary movement will make this fantasy a living reality by developing the Federal Democratic project of Rojava – Northern Syria. 8
More importantly, it is unclear when the war will end in Syria and what the future holds, and hence, there is no peace and stability soon. The war might continue for another 5 or 10 years. Accordingly, people in the areas that have been liberated by the YPG and Syrian Democratic Forces must be allowed to organise themselves and build their own self-administrations and a social system that enables them to solve their own problems. Three years have passed since the establishment of the Democratic Self-Administration in Rojava Kurdistan, and it has gained enough experience to help other areas. Therefore, the establishment of the Democratic Federation of Rojava – Northern Syria is necessary to coordinate between areas of the self-administrations. Hence, organising this is an urgent task to fulfil this need. This project will empower the Syrian Democratic Federation, and will help solve problems democratically and will be an important starting point to build a free Syria.
The Goals of the Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria
The role of martyrs in achieving free life and who have written the greatest epic of heroism must be stressed. They are the ones who helped our people reach this stage today.
Accordingly, the goals of the Federal Democratic System of Rojava – Northern Syria are as follows:
- To ensure the fundamental rights and freedom of peoples and groups that live in Syria, and to achieve a just, free and democratic social system that does not seek to restore the incoherent state, but aims at organising democratic institutions of society, based on the international conventions of human rights.
- To achieve a democratic and federal Syria, rather than a centralized administration, by taking into account the historical, geographic, cultural, demographic and economic characteristics when establishing democratic federations.
- To set up self-administrative regions that organise and run their own affairs according to the principles of the Democratic Self-Administration in economic, social, security, health, educational, defence and cultural areas. The borders of those regions and their powers and rights will be determined by the laws of the Democratic Federation of Rojava – Northern Syria.
- To free the individual and organising communities and peoples. Each region makes and implements its own decisions provided that they do not conflict with the principles of the social contract, which will be enacted by the free will of the people. The social contract of the Democratic Self-Administration remains the main source. Communities and peoples are organised at the federal level and are responsible for founding their own self-administrations.
- Women’s freedom is the essence of the Democratic Federal system. Women have the right to equal opportunity and participation, and make decisions on their own issues. Women are also equally represented in all aspects of social, political and economic life. The principle of co-presidency, which is based on equality between the sexes in all 9
aspects of the socio-political system, is to be implemented. Women have the right to organise themselves independently in the Democratic Federal System.
- The social system in the Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Kurdistan is organised based on councils, academies, communes and cooperatives. Those institutions gain their legitimacy through the free elections by the general public and local communities. Each elected administration is controlled by and subjected to an annual review by the bodies that have elected its members, who also have the right to withdraw their representatives by the same method.
- To aim to build an ecological/environmental industry and communal economy and also to not allow the exploitation of capital and monopolised profits. To aim at achieving a decent level of economic life by providing the material and social needs.
- To develop the concept of legitimate defence to protect the nation and the people. To recognise the rights of groups to legitimate self-defence – the organised social forces and their democratic participation are the basis of the legitimate defence.
- The Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria adopts the political and moral virtues, which are formed from the trinity of the democratic society, ecology and freedom of women. It bases its international and regional relations on peace, dialogue and consensus. It also follows a policy of friendship and peace as a key strategy in international politics.
- All peoples and communities living in Syria have the right to develop political, economic, social and cultural democratic partnerships with those who see fit or share similar belief and culture from regional and international nations and societies, provided that this relationship does not interfere with the objectives and interests of the Democratic Federations of Syria.
- At the regional level, the Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria aims at achieving a democratic federation in the Middle East and developing a democratic union between all peoples that live in the Middle East in all political, economic, cultural and social aspects. It goes beyond the national borders of the state to achieve a peaceful, brotherly and neighbourly life.
- The Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria believes in the leading role of the youth within society and considers them to be its effective force, and ensures their participation in all fields.
- A democratic federal system ensures the unity of the Syrian territory.
The Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Federal System of Rojava – Northern Syria