SDC leader confirms plans to hold elections in northeast Syria in the future
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Ilham Ahmed, the Executive Head of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), confirmed, in a Monday seminar hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, that there are plans to hold elections in northeast Syria in the near future.
However, Ahmed said these elections cannot wait until the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and parties linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) reach an agreement as part of the Kurdish dialogue talks supported by the United States.
“But it's unfair for the elections to be postponed until an agreement is reached, there are components in the region, it's not only Kurds, we have the Arabs and the Assyrians and others,” she said.
“And we have a large proportion of Arabs living in the region, and therefore it's unfair for all of them to wait until the dialogue succeeds.”
The KNC, which is part of the Turkey-based Syrian Arab opposition, has been locked in several political disputes with the local administration of Syria’s Kurdish-held northern areas, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
On Friday, they organized protests against the administration due to high fuel prices. However, the protests were temporarily suspended due to a COVID-19 lockdown in Hasakah province.
The two parties previously held talks for several months following an initiative by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi launched in 2020 to resolve their long-standing disputes following Turkey’s cross-border military offensive into northern Syria in October 2019.
However, since the 2020 US presidential elections, the talks have been suspended. US officials have recently held separate meetings with both sides and underlined continued support for the intra-Kurdish dialogue.
“(....) the understanding between different Kurdish groups is very important, and there was dialogue that continued for a while and then stopped after the Turkish threats started,” Ahmed said.
“So we see that it is necessary for all parties to take part in these elections, there will be elections law and the elections law and the elections will be monitored by international bodies, and it will have a level of democracy and everyone can participate.”
She added that ”parties that oppose the autonomous administration (Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria), or from within the administration, can participate and I think the elections will be a success.”
In September 2017, the local administration organized the first phase of elections in September, where voters picked leaders for some 3,700 communes spread across the three regions of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have established autonomous rule since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. The KNC was not part of the election.
The self-administration had already decided that the third round of elections would be held on Jan. 19, 2018, but officials told Kurdistan 24 that the elections were postponed until an unspecified date for technical and administrative reasons. Now it appears the plans to hold elections for a new administration will be held either later this year or early next year.
Currently, both the KNC and a delegation from the AANES are in the US to lobby for their respective causes.
The KNC, which is part of the Syrian opposition, was part of meetings with officials in New York during the 76th United Nations General Assembly. On Monday, they met Richard M. Mills, the US Deputy Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.
Al Monitor reported that the opposition delegation will also meet US officials in Washington DC in the near future.
Separately, a delegation of the AANES also arrived in Washington DC last week. White House officials reportedly promised the delegation that they will continue to support the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the SDC said in a press statement.
Ahmed also said she expects more support from the US administration and the US public due to the “threats, and the challenges we face in the region, because this region represents a very important project, and we believe that we are partners with the US.”