On Sunday, the Vice-Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Nadine Maenza, tweeted that she was “honored” to have been criticized by Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN for her recent visit to Syria’s northeast.
In late October, Maenza made a visit in a non-official capacity to areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, along with Pastor Steve Berger from the Evangelical Church in Nashville, Tennessee.
Maenza repeatedly expressed her support of what she described as the Autonomous Administration’s “remarkable religious freedom conditions,” and stated at an Oct. 30, 2020, press conference in the city of Qamishli that the Autonomous Administration is “a model not just for the Middle East, but for the world.” She also urged the US to recognize the Autonomous Administration politically the following day in a conference in the city of Raqqa.
Maenza’s Sunday tweet referenced a letter from Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Bashar al-Jaafari, to the UN Security Council, dated Nov. 18, 2020, in which Jaafari claimed that Maenza and Berger, “illegally entered the 7 kilometre zone in the countryside of Deir ez-Zor Governorate, which is controlled by Kurdish militias who are the proxies of the American occupiers.”
Jaafari’s letter explained that the Syrian government viewed Maenza’s visit as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty and an attempt to “promote separatist militias” and “champion illegitimate entities,” and called on the UN to end what he claims are violations of international law by the US administration.
Jaafari’s letter to the UN comes at a time when the Autonomous Administration is receiving an increasing number of foreign delegations and frequently engaging in international diplomacy, something which may draw the ire of the Syrian government, who views the Autonomous Administration as a separatist entity which violates Syria’s sovereignty.
On Thursday, the Deputy Co-Chair of the Autonomous Administration’s Department of Foreign Relations, Fener al-Ka’t, stated that, “there are continuous visits by official bodies and delegations of ministers and parliamentarians from several countries, and this, in itself, is a kind of recognition of the Autonomous Administration.”
This article was edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.