In an interview dating back from Mid-June, to French daily Le Monde, Leila Mustafa, the mayor of Raqqa denounced a profound lack of interest in her city by the international community, calling international contribution to the city’s reconstruction “nearly insignificant.” In fact, the young woman, Mayor of the city ever since it was taken by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with the help of the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS, describes as “insufficient” the extent of civil and economic cooperation between the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and Western powers, particularly France.
“The liberation of Raqqa was led by the SDF, but the international coalition offered air support, destroying nearly 95% of the city’s center as a result,” she said. “With this in mind, we can say that the international aid we received for the reconstruction is nearly insignificant,” the mayor of Raqqa added.
“Nevertheless, one has to say that Raqqa is back to life. It used to be the capital of ISIS and its obscurantism. Now, it is a refuge for all the Syrians that want to live in peace and be free,” she claims, claiming that Syrians from regime or Turkish controlled areas are flowing into the city, located on the banks of the Euphrates.
Nevertheless, Mustafa added that although the people of Raqqa are mobilizing to rebuild their city, their capabilities remain limited and they cannot possibly rebuild major infrastructures, like bridges. “Now, we are not beggars, but we want cooperation on certain projects for the reconstruction, and the international community is not doing its part” she clarified.
For the mayor of Raqqa, this situation is due primarily to Turkey and its relations with the West. “Western powers do not want to clash with Turkey, and therefore they abstain from properly supporting us. When our sons and daughters were fighting ISIS, a common enemy between the SDF and the West, we were the center of attention. Now we are alone as Turkey deprives us of water by decreasing the water levels of the Euphrates river.” she concluded.
In 2017, the SDF and the global coalition to defeat ISIS (led by the U.S. and its European allies) defeated ISIS in the battle of Raqqa, taking the city, which used to be the capital of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate. In 2018, the Turkish military started fighting the SDF over control of cities in Northern Aleppo, taking the city of Afrin and its surrounding.