Hundreds of demonstrators came out to the streets of Qamishli in northern Syria to protest against the lack of representation from the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AA).
Qamishli has been a key political centre in the formation of the AA throughout the Syrian civil war. The people of the city feel that their voices are not being represented as Syrian citizens in the absence of political figures from the AA in the newly established Syrian Constitutional Committee.
Those living in the territories governed by the AA believe that they have played the most significant part in the defeat of ISIS in Syria:
“This demonstration in the city of Qamishli is for the Constitution talks that did not include us. We want to ask the whole world, who defeated ISIS?”, noted one of the protesters.
They consider it to be a travesty that they are not politically represented in the Constitutional Committee, which is made up of 150 individuals, 50 of whom are from the Syrian regime, 50 from the Opposition and 50 others mainly from civil society organisations chosen by the UN.
The status of the AA within Syria has not yet been resolved and is a continuous issue that has seen very little progress over the past year. The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) has been the main institution from the AA that has been conducting negotiations with the regime in Damascus in order to resolve issues of national sovereignty and autonomy. However, these negotiations have been stalled as the Syrian regime has concentrated on the conflict with rebels in the Greater Idlib region.
In addition, the geopolitical situation with Turkey has complicated the situation as a safe-zone is being established between the AA and Turkey in cooperation with International Coalition forces without the involvement of the regime in Damascus.
Over the past couple of weeks or so Kurdish officials from the AA have been reacting to the formation of the UN-backed Syrian Constitutional Committee. In their most recent comments, the spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), criticised the UN Special Envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen, for assuming that “having a couple of Kurds from North and East Syria who are allied with Damascus or the opposition” equates to Kurdish representation in the Constitutional Committee. Co-chair of the SDC, Ilham Ahmed, also lamented the exclusion of the SDC from the Constitutional Committee.