By Syrian Democratic Times
Aldar Khalil is a Member of the Presidential Board of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and has played key roles in establishing the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
Syrian Democratic Times: Who is Aldar Khalil? Could you talk about your childhood and where you were born? When did you become interested in Kurdish and political affairs?
Aldar Khalil: I was born in Al-Hasakah in 1970. We lived in the middle of a popular neighborhood. The interest in the Kurdish situation began with the beginning of the activity of the revolutionary national liberation movements in the 1980s. Our region was a field of activity, and there were other areas with revolutionary cadres who were active in raising the Kurdish issue.
SDT: A question regarding your book on the Rojava Revolution. You were among those who assumed leadership tasks in the political struggle in Syria after the establishment of Democratic Union Party (PYD). Could you talk briefly about the nature of the differences and differences between the two time periods, organizational tasks? What were the objectives? Social segment and components?
Khalil: When the struggle is for an oppressed people whose sons and daughters have sacrificed thousands, there are no significant differences between any time periods. The developments sometimes impose a kind of change in the chain of activities and tasks to be followed, but the goals do not change. For example, in Rojava, North and East Syria, after 2011 we are talking about development. In practice, the constants in these time periods were always democracy in Syria and the Kurdish issue. Since 2011 our tasks have had the goal of community organization, and autonomous building of the community in all aspects. We have not faced great difficulties in doing that because our people have a foundation and a will, and already have had the experience of struggle and direct contact with the repressive systems in Syria, for example through the uprising of March 12th, 2004.
In the post-2011 time period it was not difficult to prepare for the struggle, but we gave our attention to autonomous development, the history of the region, and the background of the revolutionary struggle that exists. In addition, the great convergence of factors and the stripping of life from the manifestations of the artificial state helped us strongly in achieving success later.
SDT: At the beginning of the Syrian revolution, what were the main victories and difficulties that you faced and how did you overcome them until you reached what they are now?
Khalil: July 19, 2012 was the basis for the launch of the Rojava Revolution. Undoubtedly, the Battle of Kobani 2014 was an important turning point and so was the Battle of Sri Kanyeh (Ras Al-Ain) before that. In addition to the defeat of armed groups that aimed of breaching the soft flank of Syria, and of course the defeating of the organization that the whole world was terrified of.
As for the difficulties, they are not finished yet. But in general there is a kind of conspiracy against our democratic project by some parties. With this conspiracy, they pass what is more terrible than the conspiracy itself, that does not exist in any principle of our revolution. We want to transcend nationalism, respect the actual bond between people and societal unity, and build a true model of democracy. But there are those who do not accommodate this principle because it contradicts their main entity. I am talking about the entity of the state, with its organs and centralization. Nevertheless, we have reached an important moment, and with the sacrifices of our people, their struggle, steadfastness, and will, today we are an influential factor in Syria and the region. Our struggle continues until this moment.
SDT: You often talked about the third way in the beginning of the Syrian revolution, what is the third way?
Khalil: Of course, after 2011, Syria became a field for conflict and war for influence. Some even described it as World War Three, and it is. We did not find that the platforms of all the forces that emerged to demand change in Syria would fulfill the needs of Syrians. Our proposal was a strategic vision aimed at the unity of Syria and the unity of its society, as well as a democratic, pluralistic, decentralized Syria. That means, we do not want to be part of any fight over power, neither with the regime that defends its existence nor with anyone who wants to be an alternative to the regime and govern with the regime’s mentality. So we took the third way, as a way that is far from all these crises, and its goal is to struggle according to the aforementioned principles.
SDT: You had a role in establishing councils and administrations. How were the foundations established? Could you explain to us how the agreement was reached between the Kurdish, Arab, and Syriac groups, and the rest of the groups? How do you evaluate the joint work among those groups in the councils and departments? Is it possible to imagine North and East Syria without it?
Khalil: We started with the mechanisms of autonomous organization according to the heart of the traditional equation known in management. We started to organize so that the society is the one that manages itself by itself. That means, the autonomous administration is from the base towards the top. We started to form communes and then regional councils and departments. That happened in stages, and our community’s awareness helped us to move towards this experience with strength and success.
As for the agreement between the groups, as I’ve mentioned, we preserved our identity, existence, and authentic culture as part of North and East Syria – Rojava. We protected it from complications and interferences, as some were trying to create hostility between us. We found that we are one community and there is no disharmony between us. Therefore, we live together and we have one future.
So we began building our multi-democratic model with all the groups of our people. Of course, the adoption of the project of the democratic nation as presented by Mr. Ocalan was a great foundation for the success of this experiment. What we have done, and the process by which we have laid historical, cultural, and societal groundwork, was thanks to this project that facilitated the development of our democratic project and our common life.
As for the mechanisms of the relationship between councils, communes, and departments, in practice it is an autonomous management system that is woven together, since the people are the supervisors of the distribution of tasks among themselves for the sake of management. Therefore this system does not need to find a relationship between its departments, being one and unified.
As for the last part of your question, we have said that our model is devoted to autonomous management of the community, and therefore the absence of the will of the people in the election, participation, and administration would bring us backwards into the past.
SDT: The regions of eastern Syria today enjoy an integrated system after forming the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. Have you achieved your goals?
Khalil: We still suffer from the fact that our democracy project is highly threatened. Syria is still far from the democracy which is necessary for Syria and its people. Our goal is to achieve stability, unity, a democratic future for Syria, and decentralization of the government. Our project represents the foundation of a great solution for all of Syria, and we believe that the solution will come through the role of our regions and our people in the future Syria.
We still suffer from Turkish occupation and the dubious opposition that presents itself in a Syrian robe, but its reality is a political front for Turkey. In addition, the terrorist organizations are still active, and they present another threat to the future of Syria. So we think about the big picture, and do not think about what has been achieved in our regions, only because we are considered a part of Syria, and therefore our work is not limited to our regions only.
SDT: You are a part of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is an essential part of the AANES. There are many criticisms that this administration is a Kurdish administration. What’s your response?
Khalil: Of course this criticism agrees with the Turkish phobia of the Kurds. They cannot break the power of our groups, our unity, and our common sacrifices. They intend to create fake grounds to legalize their attacks, as well as destroy what has been accomplished. Everyone who wants to understand the reality of this administration and what it is, they must reach for the existing reality and not care about what is being said by those who seek to steal the peoples’ struggle for its will and freedom. If what they are saying is true, then why do we find Arab and Christian regions of the AANES that manage themselves? Not to mention the level of participation of Kurdish, Arab, and Christian women, as well as common sacrifices.
SDT: Have you been able to enhance unity and joint work with the Arab members of the region? What is your evaluation of this relationship?
Khalil: Certainly. As for the form of the relationship, it is strategic and deep and does not depend on the immediate factor of time as some always try to present it, especially those who are upset about the unity and relationship of these groups.
SDT: When we follow the AANES, we find that it uses several languages in its work. The driver’s license, for example, is now issued in three languages: Arabic, Kurdish, and Syriac. What message does this change carry after everything had been biased in favor of one color and one language?
Khalil: This is a reflection of the existing reality and not a message. What has being adopted is the consecration of the existing reality in the present and future, where the work of the AANES is also based on three languages. This is a change in the region, as you have mentioned. In addition, it demonstrates the reality of the multiple and diverse cultures that the peoples of our region possess.
SDT: You, through your appearance in many meetings, stress and affirm the fellowship of free people. Why this repeated assertion?
Khalil: We have talked about the major attacks on our project in this particular aspect. So we are trying at every moment, as well as in the context of unfolding events, to assure everyone that we do not think of any alternative to this project, and it is our firm strategic vision.
SDT: The AANES has achieved many victories, such as avoiding the fighting between the peoples of the region, but also difficult points. The loss was the administration’s share, such as Turkey’s occupation of Afrin 2018, Tel Abyad (Gere Spi) and Ras al-Ain (Seri Kaniye) in the past year. How do you assess this politically?
Khalil: Turkey seeks to expand its new Ottoman empire in the region. These directions are in order to create a platform for the start of its Ottoman project in the region. In the fact, we find that practice in Syria, Libya, and Iraq. Demographic change, killing, kidnapping, imposing Turkish language, and trading in Turkish currency. These trends have negative repercussions on Syria and its unity. It brings fragmentation and division, not to mention the destruction of our efforts towards a Syrian solution and peace. It also gives material support for the return of terrorism to the Syrian arena in a stronger way, in the forefront of ISIS organization.
SDT: You reached a Kurdish-Kurdish agreement. What is the significance of this agreement for the Kurds? Why did the agreement fail in 2014 while the agreement has made progress now? Was the reason behind this American and French mediation? What are its implications for the Syrian domestically, regionally, and internationally?
Khalil: The Kurdish issue is a significant regional issue that needs to be resolved. The Kurds need unity and they must work in a unified manner in order to address all anti-Kurdish efforts. But it should not be at the expense of any party. This unity strengthens and enhances the unity of all factions and does not pose a danger to anyone as some have tried to state. The reasons for the failure of the agreement may be due to circumstances and events in the region, as well as invasions. What is important now is the intention to work for national unity. The Americans and French support the direction of Kurdish unity and they have a role in this process, but of course, the will of the Kurdish parties is the most important. As for the repercussions, they will undoubtedly be positive, as well as this unity strengthens the endeavors of the democratic project in Syria and also the unity and cohesion of our society in North and East Syria.
SDT: How far did the dialogue with the Syrian regime go? Does it need international mediation?
Khalil: Of course, the AANES has always shown itself ready for dialogue as the dialogue is a basic and consistent principle in the approach of the AANES. The dilemma lies in the regime and its lack of openness to dialogue. Russia’s role was present at one point but this did not yield practical results. Currently, there is no development in this issue. If there is a development in this issue, we will inevitably share details of this with our people.
SDT: The implementation of the Caesar Act has had a major impact on the living conditions of Syrian citizens. How do you assess the repercussions of the Caesar Act on North and East Syria?
Khalil: Our regions are part of Syria. We impact and are impacted by the Syrian interior. Without a doubt the repercussions of any action will be present in our regions. The world must be aware that any danger, threat, or action that impedes the stability in our regions will bring serious consequences and restore the danger of ISIS, in the context of brazen Turkish support for terrorism and with thousands of detained ISIS fighters, and the women and children associated with them.
SDT: How do you read the future of North and East Syria within the political map today?
Khalil: The presence and approach of the Turkish occupation and the Turkish role in Syria are making things worse. In the absence of efforts for an actual solution and without the participation of all Syrians, no stability can occur. The international community must play a bigger role to spur the withdrawal of Turkey and its armed groups, as well as lay the groundwork for a Syrian solution and dialogue in accordance with UNSCR 2254. Without these efforts, the Syrian future is in danger and the crisis will last and become more complicated.
SDT: Is there a message that you would like to send through our publication to the American public?
Khalil: The world and the American public should not forget the message of the 11,000 martyrs and 25,000 wounded in North and East Syria. The message of defending democracy and peace on behalf of the world in Syria. Societies everywhere in the world must struggle for their unity and power and should transcend all artificial differences and obstacles. The educated elite, the media, and the American administration should know that what has been accomplished in cooperation and partnership with our people is at risk because of the Turkish occupation of our regions and Syria. There are those who want ISIS to return. And others who want to destroy the unity of Kurds, Arabs, and Syriacs and Christians in North and East Syria. Everyone must fulfill their historical, human, and moral responsibilities.