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SDF Towards Secession from Syria: New Political and Social Contract for the Kurdish Administration

A Kurdish official linked the new contract with perceived blockage in the Syrian political process, according to al-Modon.

The Autonomous Administration has unveiled a new social contract (constitution) that introduces several contentious principles. Foremost among them is the decision to rename the Syrian state as the Democratic Republic, departing from the previous designation of the Syrian Arab Republic, and a restructuring of the government’s form.

Under this contract, the areas under the jurisdiction of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are consolidated administratively into a single region comprising 7 governorates (al-Jazira, Deir ez-Zor, Raqqa, Euphrates, Tabqa, Manbij, Afrin, and al-Shahba). The contract mandates the adoption of the name Democratic Autonomous Administration in the North and East of Syria. Additionally, it outlines the establishment of the People’s Assembly (Parliament), the creation of a court dedicated to safeguarding the social contract, akin to the Supreme Constitutional Courts, and the formation of the Central Monetary and Payments Office.

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The Kurdish-dominated Autonomous Administration had initially enacted its inaugural social contract in 2014 to govern the regions under its control. Subsequently,  tthe contract underwent multiple revisions without reaching agreements with local parties, particularly Arab tribes, as reported by Syrian sources. 

Blockage of the political process 

Regarding the circumstances leading to the modifications in the social contract, Sihanouk Dibo, head of the relations office in the Democratic Union Party, and a member of the small committee responsible for drafting the new contract, has attributed the changes to dimensions related to the Syrian political solution. Dibo notes that the new contract arises due to a perceived blockage in the Syrian political process, with the Autonomous Administration being absent or excluded for reasons deemed unconvincing and illogical.

Dibo highlights that, after more than a decade of SDF battles against ISIS terrorism with U.S.-led international coalition support, the recent amendments align with the actual implementation of UN Resolution 2254 to resolve the Syrian crisis. He emphasizes differing interpretations between the Damascus authority and opposition components constituting the negotiating body.

The Autonomous Administration has expressed dissatisfaction with its exclusion from Syrian constitution sessions held under UN auspices in Geneva, involving regime delegations, opposition, and civil society.

Dibo characterizes the new contract and the form of the Autonomous Administration as an “appropriate solution” to address Syria’s current state of partition. He suggests that the contract aims to embody a real democratic system reflecting the region’s aspirations. Despite asserting in Article V of the Basic Principles that the Autonomous Administration is part of Syria, Dibo’s reference to its non-involvement in the political solution implies an “escalatory” step. This is evident in the announcement of a court to protect the social contract (constitutional court) and a central monetary office (central bank).

Farid Saadoun, an academic researcher and Kurdish affairs expert, acknowledges the positive step of developing a social contract but questions the application of its laws based on previous controversies. He notes that the new contract explicitly states that the areas under the administration enjoy democratic federal rule, indicating the administration’s endorsement of a federal system for all of Syria.

One side 

According to Saadoun, the social contract was exclusively crafted by the Autonomous Administration, controlled by the PYD, excluding political frameworks like the Kurdish National Council in Syria and social entities such as Arab tribes. The contract was formulated without engaging in dialogue with dissenting perspectives within the administration.

He highlights the lack of clarity regarding certain terms in the new contract, particularly the Central Monetary and Financial Office. This ambiguity could lead to interpretations suggesting the administration’s intent to introduce a new currency. Moreover, the contract unilaterally changed the name of the Syrian state without seeking consensus or consultation with other Syrian parties, including the opposition and the regime, thereby introducing new complications to the Syrian political landscape.

The timing of the Autonomous Administration’s actions coincides with a form of rebellion in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor by Arab tribes. The new contract seems to be part of a series of initiatives aimed at quelling the instability in Deir ez-Zor.

Saadoun notes that the process of drafting the new contract commenced over a year ago, predating the recent events in Deir ez-Zor. However, he acknowledges that the developments in Deir ez-Zor expedited the issuance of the new contract.

Ambiguous terms 

In a time when some perceive the new contract as a formalization of the accomplished fact that the Autonomous Administration has managed to establish, Badr Mulla Rashid, the director of the Raman Center for Research and Consulting, contends that the contract underscores the persistent state of an “institutional labyrinth” that the administration grapples with, despite approaching a decade of existence.

Mulla Rashid points out the recurrent changes to the name of the administration and its social contract over time, asserting that the contract has maintained its core essence through these alterations. A cursory examination of the new contract reveals a continuity of essential features, such as concerted efforts in the preamble to challenge the historical centrality of the state, referencing periods “thousands of years ago” in contrast to the relatively recent emergence of the modern central state within the last century.

Highlighting the ambiguous political terms coined by the minds behind the Autonomous Administration, Mulla Rashid cites concepts like a “democratic nation” and the introduction of new ideas like “confronting capitalist modernity through democratic modernity.” He suggests that the administration appears fatigued by wars and the constant restructuring of institutions and frameworks.

In the economic realm, the researcher accuses the Autonomous Administration of a lack of credibility in implementing self-sufficiency, as outlined in both the new contract and previous agreements. He contends that the administration monopolized the purchase of agricultural crops and manipulated exchange rates in collaboration with the Syrian regime, adversely affecting farmers’ profit margins to the point of bankruptcy. Mulla Rashid concludes by questioning the legitimacy of the Administration’s claims about a societal economy, asking, “What societal economy is the Autonomous-Administration talking about?”


This article was translated and 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.

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