US Backed Syria Forces to Establish Civilian Council to run Raqqa

As opposing forces continue to grapple over the fate of Raqqa, the the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced that a ‘civilian-led council’ will soon govern the city.

The SDF and its affiliates have made huge advances on Raqqa over the past month, and their defeat of ISIS in the city seems inevitable.

This wouldn’t be the first time in recent history that Raqqa experienced a form of civilian governance. In 2013, Raqqa became the first Syrian city under Rebel control. Once established in the city, the Rebels worked closely with the local civilian councils to ensure the provision of food, water, and oil. They also worked with local tribal authorities to maintain services such as electricity and trash collection.

However, this wasn’t to last, as ISIS entered the city in January 2014, sweeping out the growing system of governance, and replacing it with their own brutal rule. Three years on from ISIS’ arrival in the city, just how possible is it for Raqqans to move towards civilian governance again, as suggested by the SDF?

There are numerous hurdles in place. The six year-long civil war still rages in Syria, and any new SDF-created civilian council may face competition for control.

Given the current climate in Syria, it seems preliminary to suggest that a civilian council could establish any long-term control over Raqqa. But the city and its civilians have proven resilient, despite the many horrors they have faced. Despite the on-going conflict and power struggle, Raqqans may yet seize control of their own future.

Image: Reuters