The Chaos of Governance Structures Within the Autonomous-Administration
The Chaos of Governance Structures Within the Autonomous-Administration
Baz Bakari – Kurdish, Syrian journalist
Since its establishment on January 21, 2014, to date, the governance structures of the Autonomous-Administration of Northeastern Syria (AANES), have fluctuated between the first building block that appeared on behalf of the People's Council of Western Kurdistan in 2012, the elections of which were held within the context of the Democratic Union Party’s audience only. The Democratic Federation of Rojava was later announced in 2015 . Then, the Federation of Northern Syria was presented in 2016. In 2018, the name has been set to be ‘’the Autonomous Administration of Northeastern Syria.’’ In view of the recent experience and the geopolitical sensitivity of the region, and the influence of the neighboring Turkish state on the separatist ally, America and some NATO countries which joined a military alliance against the Islamic State ISIS, declared their support for the Kurdish forces to fight terrorism. At the same time, America remained a strategic ally of Turkey, which is fighting against America’s other ally, namely the Syrian Democratic Forces( SDF) and the Autonomous-Administration (AA).
With the security squares of The Ba’ath regime remaining in the cities in which the Autonomous Administration was declared, and Turkey's occupation of three Kurdish cities between 2018 and 2019, as well as its conduct of joint military patrols with Russia in the vicinity of the rest of the Kurdish cities and villages, the existing problems have grown in Northeastern Syria, and have become more complex than the capabilities of the various countries present in the region. Not to mention the emergence of additional files, which are beyond the capacities of the Autonomous Administration to solve. Among them, are the file of ISIS detainees, and the file of the camps that house the families of this organization. As well as the evade of the international community of its responsibility as allies, to establish an international court to try these detainees.
In view of the Democratic Union Party's control of the Autonomous Administration, the political and ideological structure of the party overlapped in the administrative structure of Autonomous Administration’s institutions, where it has resulted in administrative chaos and incomprehensible political volatility. It consisted of the multiple judicial levels to manage the file of justice file, which is essentially fragile, and the administration’s inability to provide the basic needs of the citizens, who harvested nothing from the Syrian war, but their homes free of electricity, water and gas, and bread’s recurring crisis. After the battle of Al-Tay neighborhood in Qamishli (April 2021), in the midst of the chaos situation, the gas crisis in Qamishli, and fuel corruption files, the Autonomous Administration distributed gas cylinders to the residents of this neighborhood, which was under the control of the militias affiliated with the Ba’ath regime, the ‘’National Defense Militia’’. Those cylinders were distributed in plain sight of the citizens, who were lamenting that they were not residents of that neighborhood.
The Autonomous Administration has established what we might call “Chaotic Institutions”, represented by the bodies and structures of governance in the region including ministries, departments and institutions, which are administrative structures that lack a clear working methodology. They are rather limited to providing the AA with governance tools and exclusion mechanisms, which can be used to eliminate political opponents.
In any case, the idea of institutionalization is based on attaining as much ideological recruitment as possible within the ranks of the Democratic Union Party, in a way in line with its intellectual ideology, which is built on the idea of community-based ideology (societal militarism) or ‘’Sustainable Revolutionary’’, turning all the civilian sectors of its institutions into ideological recruitment centers.Federations, unions, violation documentation centers and educational institutions all work and proceed from the idea that the human mass is used and exploited for the benefit of the Democratic Union Party’s ideas.
An example; is that the revolutionary youth bypassed the military, security and conscription institutions, transforming them from a student body of the Democratic Society Movement to a political security institution that works to eliminate political differences and, in return, enlists underage youth in the doctrine of the AA.
This ideological stagnation pursued by the Autonomous Administration in its system of governance and structures in Northeastern Syria has effectively contributed to the lack of trust, since its establishment, between it and the local communities governed by the administration. These institutions, launched by the Autonomous Administration, instead of acting service and political institutions that mimic the nature of the region’s conditions, they have turned into security institutions, practicing political exclusion, and setting limits for possible freedom to deal with them. They have formed local councils, which give them the opportunity to force all politically different people to deal with them, and in return, force them to have to communicate with their institutions.
More clearly, this administration has not yet attempted to treat the local community as a system of governance and authority. Rather, it deals with them as a political party, working to contain the largest number of citizens in its ranks. That is, it operates within an electoral program that provides it with a mass base, but this mass exists by compulsion and need, and it vanishes with the loss of need and circumstance.
This structural confusion of Autonomous Administration has led to chaos in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as well; So far, there is ambiguity about the dependence of this institution, its role and position in the Autonomous Administration. The Syrian Democratic Forces shifts with the transformation of the existing regime. Sometimes it is an institution independent of the Defense Authority, while other times it is affiliated with it. In other contexts, it is the Border Protection Army. Heretofore, it is not understood where this institution stands in the ranks of the AA.
This confusion also causes vagueness in the project and aspirations of the Autonomous Administration; As the Syrian Democratic Forces as a component composed of a non-coherent national and religious bloc of various military movements, which were established after the Syrian revolution, and these forces belong to geographic areas outside the Autonomous Administration’s areas of control.
All of this imbalance in the structure of AA has indeed led to instability situation among the local community, who is experiencing an ongoing public aversion, due to the absence of a clear project establishing fixed political boundaries for the administration and the regional threats that it seeks to eliminate.
The fruitless administrative policies of the Autonomous Administration in Northeastern Syria led to the revival of tribalism in various social fields. This, in turn, was reflected in the political and partisan situation in which a kind of tribal blocs with partisan frameworks were born. Thus, the concept of tribal leaders has once again emerged, even within the institutions that are supposed to represent a civil formation. It has become difficult to experience these leaders by criticizing or even questioning their competence to hold certain positions... And because the mechanism of distributing positions in the Autonomous Administration is not transparent, and it is governed by many social considerations, the leaders in the security and military institutions, have enjoyed a social aura with a tribal basis. This in turn, led them not to be criticized despite the many mistakes attributed to these leaders.... On the other hand, a comical scene appeared in the guesthouses of the traditional tribal leaders, represented by many praised local poets and singers. In addition to the increase in local media organizations dedicated to glorifying the revolution for the Autonomous Administration. Every institution that praises the Autonomous Administration, in turn, is included in the "No criticism" law.... The above results in a phenomenon, ‘’Whistle-blowers’’ phenomenon, that is not alien to the region… As soon as you criticize one of the institutions of the Autonomous Administration, a large segment of the people affiliated with it hurries to write reports against each critic.
In short; the establishment of the Autonomous Administration in itself is not a mistake, it is a general gain for the people of the region. Working to correct the course is also not wrong but rather an individual obligation. Therefore, criticizing the situation for the sake of correcting its course is part of its support, and it is not a betrayal of the blood of those who sacrificed their lives for the stability and security of the region. In return, staying in this state is wasting the efforts of those who have wanted to transform the experience to be a foundation for a better tomorrow for the region. The insistence of the AA on repeating the same mistakes and restoring administrative behaviors that previously proved its failure is a recurrence of tragedies, and is not at all conducive to it, but only puts them on the path to failure.