The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) operates an office in Washington DC, the US Mission of the Syrian Democratic Council, in order to facilitate political and diplomatic cooperation.
SDC views the United States as an essential ally in providing security and stability in Syria, preventing the re-emergence of ISIS.
The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) is a regional authority responsible for governing approximately 31% of Syrian territory, providing services such as electricity, education, sanitation, and security and policing services. It is officially called the Self-Administration of North and East Syria. It is home to approximately four million people, including many internally displaced persons.
The military wing of the SDC, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are allied with the US military and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, to enact the enduring defeat of ISIS. SDF fighters have been the ones on the frontlines against religious extremism. For example, SDF fighters were the ones who fought and died in the final battle against the ISIS “caliphate” in Baghouz, Syria, in March 2019, resulting in a victory celebrated across the world and announced by President Donald J. Trump. These brave fighters liberated their homeland in the process, fighting for the ideals that the SDC stands for.
The SDC is not aligned with the Syrian government under Assad, nor with the civil opposition associated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) or the National Front for Liberation, though the SDC remains open to negotiations with both parties.
The SDC has its roots in the Kurdish region, at that time known as “Rojava” by the Kurds, that experienced a power vacuum during the 2011 civil uprising against the Assad government. It has grown to include Kurds, Arabs, Syriac Assyrians, Turkmens, Armenians, and many more peoples of Syria. It includes Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, Alawites, and many other religions. It now comprises an umbrella group of multi-ethnic political parties, political associations, civil society groups, and activists in Syria, calling for democracy, decentralization, secularism, the protection of individual freedoms, and the empowerment of women. The SDC was formally established in 2015 as the political complement to the SDF.
The US military allied with the SDF in 2015, looking for allies in the struggle against global terrorism, after ISIS had raised its army of foreign fighters to seize territory in Syria. The SDC and SDF have been a partner of the US and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, an international coalition supported by the US State Department. American diplomats and international NGOs currently work freely within the SDC’s and SDF’s regional authority. The SDF also provides protection for the US military and US diplomatic presence in Syria.
SDC’s military wing, the SDF, is a key ally to the US military, fighting on the frontlines against ISIS and global terrorism and ultimately winning back all territory seized by the ISIS “caliphate,” a victory celebrated across the world and announced by President Donald J. Trump.
Regular governance meetings are held in SDC and SDF areas in Syria to coordinate security and services such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure management. The region controlled by SDC is now in need of effective means of reparations and reconstruction. The above photo shows a May 2019 Womens Committee meeting.
SDC officials regularly meet with US officials to formulate strategy to defeat ISIS, both on the battlefield and ideologically, further the SDC’s diplomatic efforts, and plan for reconstruction and regional stability in Syria.
What the SDC Stands For
Ideologically, the SDC envisions decentralization and the empowerment of local governments and local communities, feminism and gender equality, a multiethnic and multireligious society, and secularism and a separation of religion and government.
Politically, the SDC works to promote decentralization through transferring authority to local councils. The SDC believes decentralization can and should be embodied in the constitution of Syria after the current regime. The SDC implements feminism and gender equality, as well as a multiethnic and multireligious system, by mandating that each position of authority be a position jointly held by two individuals — one man and one woman, with each individual of different ethnic backgrounds. The SDC implements secularism by freeing education from forced Arabization, as well as promoting the separation of religion and government as a defining element of the Syrian constitution.
The SDC believes that any governance structure should be accountable to their people. Unlike other parts of Syria, SDC and SDF areas feature a united military and political command with a system of checks and balances that guarantee good governance in the region.
The SDC’s Diplomatic Efforts
The SDC deeply supports efforts towards peace and stability in Syria. The SDC stands behind a political solution pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for joint negotiations on a new constitution for Syria. Unfortunately, the SDC has not received a seat at the negotiating table or a meaningful voice in the negotiation process established by the UN, despite its pivotal role in stabilizing the region and its effective governance of its region. The SDC stands resolutely against the division of Syria or any political project that would seek to divide Syrian lands or people. The SDC deserves to be included in negotiations pertaining to Syria’s future.
ISIS committed grave atrocities in Syria, and they should be held to account. As SDF fighters liberated these regions from the “caliphate,” they freed millions of people from being subjected daily to human rights abuses. The SDC wishes for the International Criminal Court, a special tribunal, or another court, to try ISIS criminals for these crimes against humanity, for which the evidence is more than plentiful. In addition, the SDC calls upon the international community to repatriate the 5,000 foreign ISIS fighters and their 70,000 family members currently in SDC detainment camps, being provided with shelter, food, medicine, and other needs — or help SDC try them in a legitimate court of law.
The world is safer from terrorism and religious extremism, thanks to SDF fighters who risked their lives, and many who made the ultimate sacrifice, to defeat ISIS. These fighters deserve to return to communities that can be rebuilt — but without international aid, they face slim chances of recovering from nearly a decade of war, occupation, and instability. The SDC calls upon its ally the US, as well as other allied countries, to provide financial and material support for reconstruction and reparations in its region of Syria.
Syria’s territorial sovereignty is being greatly compromised by Turkey, whose military is currently occupying the predominantly Kurdish Syrian city of Afrin and surrounding areas, as well as Jarabulus, Al-Bab, A’zaz, and many surrounding villages. This area is the SDC’s Afrin canton, and is viewed by many as an extension of Turkey’s oppression of the Kurds in their own country. Turkey is working to change the demography of Afrin. Many human rights violations have been committed by the occupiers of Afrin, and Turkey is taking actions that suggest they are there to stay, from teaching schoolchildren the Turkish language to destroying villages to set up their own military bases. The SDC stands firmly against the Turkish occupation of sovereign Syrian territory. It calls for the withdrawal of the occupiers of Afrin, and calls upon the international community to protect SDC’s region from Turkish occupation and aggression.
The SDF has not attacked Turkey, as Turkish officials have claimed, and their evidence is based on false links. Turkish aggression in the region is premised on the idea that the SDF, and its units that include the Kurdish Protection Units (YPG), have committed acts of aggression against them and constitute a threat of terrorism against Turkish citizens. They claim that the YPG is directed by the Turkish Kurdish-led party, the PKK. These claims, made frequently by President Erdogan, are not truthful. The SDC calls upon the international community to reject these claims and disallow Erdogan’s government from using these claims as a cover to commit atrocities and violate the territorial sovereignty of Syria.
Current SDC Personnel
The current leaders of the SDC are Co-Chairs Ms. Amina Omar, a Syrian Kurdish leader, and Mr. Riad Darar, an Arab tribal leader, author, and former political prisoner in Syria.
Ms. Ilham Ahmed, former Co-Chair and current President of the SDC Executive Committee, has made several diplomatic visits from Syria to the US, met with top US Congresspersons, US State Department personnel, and US government and NGO officials, and spoke with President Donald J. Trump. She has also conducted diplomatic visits to other countries.
The US Mission of the SDC is currently directed by two Co-Chiefs: Ms. Sinam Sherkany Mohamad, a Kurdish political figure and feminist, and Mr. Bassam Said Ishak, a Syriac Christian and human rights leader in Syria. Mr. Bassam Saker, an political activist and member of the SDC Presidential Committee, also represents the interests of the SDC in Washington DC. The office led by Ms. Mohamed and Mr. Ishak is responsible for acting as the go-betweens from the SDC to the US government.
Updated: May 7, 2019