One of the key tenets of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) is the idea of decentralized democracy. In regions this diverse, highly centralized government inevitably leads to power structures in which some citizens have more rights than others.  The emphasis that the AANES has placed on decentralization and minority rights is a response to the status quo that existed in Syria for years prior to the war.

A region of the world that has to some extent reached these goals already is the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in Spain. With their own distinct language and culture, the Catalan people were able to achieve autonomy following Spain’s return to democracy after the end of the Franco dictatorship. They have their own parliament, and the Catalan government holds jurisdiction in matters such as health, education, and transportation among others.

It is only natural that such a closeness in values between the AANES and Catalonia would lead to positive relations and solidarity. This culminated in the Catalan parliament officially recognizing the AANES as a legitimate political entity on October 20, 2021. In this context, the US Office of the Syrian Democratic Council met with the Head of the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the USA and Canada, Isidre Sala. 

The discussion between SDC Representative Sinam Mohamed, SDC Co-Chair Bassam Ishak, and Delegation Head Isidre Sala covered a wide range of relevant topics, including the current economic situation in North and East Syria, the continuing threats and attacks by Turkish-backed forces, the occupation of swathes of Syrian territory by these forces, and also how to further promote and expand relations between the AANES institutions and Catalan institutions in light of the historic recognition.