US-backed Raqqa Civilian Council. What Is It?


US-backed Raqqa Civilian Council. What Is It?

A Syrian Democratic Forces female fighter stands with her weapon east of Raqqa city, Syria March 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

On April 18, 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the establishment of the Raqqa Civil City Council. They made this announcement on a meeting in Ayn Issa village north of Raqqa.

According to Kurdish officials, the Raqqa Civil Council includes representatives of Kurdish and Arab tribes from Raqqa province. The council is fully under the control of the Kurdish self-administration, in which the Kurds are an absolute majority.

In the official statement, “the participants decided to establish a Civil Council that will ensure the administration of the province after liberation through its specialized committees in the field of social justice, services, security, protection, education, health, media, youth and women. And they elected Sheikh Mahmoud al-Bursan and Miss Leila Mustafa for the joint presidency along with three deputies”.

After its formation, the Council issued a number of resolutions, including:

  • The return of the displaced population to the province;
  • Working on the development of the security and defense systems;
  • Rebuilding after the liberation of the entire province;
  • Giving the leading role for women and youth, and organizing society;
  • Reactivating all institutions, organizations and services that have been disrupted or damaged because of the war.

The civil council is currently operating from Ayn Issa village as a temporary headquarters because Raqqa city is still controlled by ISIS.

The Raqqa Civil City Council was widely criticized as it is dominated by Kurds. The Kurdish population is a very small minority in Raqqa province. The council also includes representatives of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has no supporters in the province.

In terms of security, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led coalition are training “Security Forces” that will be deployed in the city after the US-backed forces get control over it. However, these forces have also been criticized despite the fact that inhabitants of Raqqa and the Arabs are a major part of them. Security forces also include Kurds who are not from Raqqa province. Kurds also occupy some of leadership positions, according to local sources.

On April 19, 2017, pro-opposition public figures, media activists and opposition activists from Raqqa issued an official statement rejecting the Raqqa Civil City Council, which was formed by the SDF. According to the statement, the SDF is engaged in forced displacement against the people of Raqqa province.

The statement said that the SDF is exploiting the support of the US-led coalition on the one hand and civilians’ need for the salvation from ISIS on the other. The head of the legal office in the former council of Raqqa, lawyer Asid al-Mousa, said that the civil council is illegal.

He said that the SDF tried to legislate the council by a meeting of the elders and Sheikhs of Raqqa tribes that were allegedly forced to attend it after the seizure of their towns and villages by the US-backed forces. Al-Mousa added that Raqqa’s elected council is headed by lawyer Saad al-Shawish, whose current headquarters is in the Turkish City of Orfa. He manages the work of the residents of Raqqa who were forced to fee to Turkey by the SDF and ISIS.

From its side, the Kurdish self-administration announced that Raqqa might join the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria proclaimed by the PYD. If it happens, it might further contribute to tensions between the Arabs from Raqqa and the SDF. The “self-administration” of the proclaimed federation is nothing more than a PYD administration.

Many experts believe that even if the SDF withdraws from Raqqa after its liberation and formally transfer control over it to the Raqqa Civilian Council, SDF-controlled security forces will remain a tool of the PYD control over the city.

Another problem is that the PYD/SDF plan to include Raqqa into its federation faces opposition from the local population. The locals believe that in this case the Arab city may end up under absolute control of the PYD and Kurdish-dominated security forces.

The Syrian government has not officially commented on the issue so far. US sources have talked about the impossibility of running the Raqqa Civil Council without cooperation with the government that can provide basic services. This cooperation seems to be difficult in light of the recent tensions between the SDF and the Syrian Arab Army.

The SDF-backed civil council has a very difficult task if it really seeks to establish a real self-administration in the city. It will face a number of difficulties:

  • the PYD desire to keep Raqqa in its area of influence;
  • an opposition of the Raqqa population to the PYD- controlled administration;
  • a lack of coordination with the Syrian government that may contribute to restoration of crucial humanitarian services in the province destroyed by the war;
  • Arab-Kurdish and Kurdish-Turkish tensions.



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  • Colin Oskapy

    The SDF ” Civil ” whatever becomes the Al Qaeda ” Civil ” whatever, and so on, so that all these insurgent ” Civil ” things become the NATO colonisation coup de’ etat against anti-Zionist Syria. Its Plan D, by now, but with this awareness, even this sickening NATO Zionist Plan D can be obstructed and defeated.

    • Terra Cotta Woolpuller

      The US in their arrogance will find themselves without too many allies in this matter , since they are on a path of aiding and abetting genocide already . Their actions have been towards this end and now they are blatant about the land grabbing in violation of a sovereign nation . This stupidity of supporting known terrorists all the time and trying to legitimize them is going to lose them credibility and allies .

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      • JNDillard

        At this point, the US has the loyalty found among thieves. Each group is out for its own interests and will only support the other as long as those interests coincide or overlap. There is no genuine mutual respect based on anything other than intimidation with power. In contrast, Putin and Russia and now China have won and are continuing to win respect from previous US allies. The Philippines and Germany come to mind.

  • Kim Jong

    Terrorists like daeshbags/nusrats. Those Syrian Dumb Fucks (SDF) will soon discover that they are on the wrong side of history.

  • Wahid Algiers

    The kurds there are acting like their masters. Grabbing land and then install a coucil to give the crime a democrate face. It had been better for the Kurds to combat with the SAA and negotiate simuntanoulsy a status for regions populated by kurdish citizens of Syria. But they smell the smoke of fat uncle Sam’ s cigar which is only in order to dazzle the dreamers.

  • gfsdyughjgd .

    USA/NATO terrorist Council now Russia can send Putins best friend to Raqqa to complicate USA terrorist plans.Because both Trump and Erdogan support different FSA terrorist.

  • gfsdyughjgd .

    USA and Turkey council Sovereign free USA SDF= FSA,ISIS terrorist and free Turkey FSA,ISIS terrorist.

  • JNDillard

    It is very thoughtful and generous for the Kurds to bleed and die for the Israelis, neocons in Washington, the CIA, NATO, the EU, the Saudis and Turkey, but in the end they will either agree to rule by Syria, withdraw, or die. They probably have at most a year to figure out which it will be.

  • alexis

    Kurdish are making to be establishing a new state, “Kurdish Republic” (de facto already existing) with help of US but Erdogan will be angry…the nexs step will be international recognition, on the place of UN…

    • Jens Holm

      There will be no kurdish republic in Syria as well as in Turkey. Far out.

      In the Rojava map estimated only 45% are kurds. Kurds taking over would look much like wha´t assad & ergogan does – putting down the rest as alway 2.

      The kurds in Turkey are at least 11 million by the best estimates. Most of them are not PKK, but they certainly support they have equal right about language, culture a.s.o.

      But when those moderate kurds get 10% of the votes(10% for comming into the parlament is unheard here, we have 2% but most has 4 in west) 14 PM`s are jailed, 134 townmajors are removed even elected as well.

      So Turkey has to change the shit from old days. I cant see that without conflicts in the rest of the knocked down opposition and its after many years.

      My prvate hope is that Kurds in Iraq as well in Syria by example can show that kurds – some of them – are not as Erdogan and his Ördopedia says.

      Too, too much in Your hoistory books are only made by evil old days, where Yorself were the heroes all the time and are always right.

      If You take historybooks from Iran, Turkey, Iraq & Syria everybody can see, those dont fit at all. One could be in Antarktis, one could be in Afriaca and one i Australia.

      When I and many others tell the more neutral story already are well descriebed on the internet and incl. very detailed Wikipedia, You tell its lies – all of You – because all of Your rulers has lied to You incl. Your parents from birth.

      ´Turkey of today has nothing to do with Ottomans. They were upperclas, spoke their own stange mixed cosmoplitic language. Syria is no old nation as well as Iraq. Same thing with Israel, Jordan and the palestine.

      And kurds were united in The ottomans. The lack of a state once apon a time ago are depended in, thats its total irrelevant, íf You are isolated by mountains and deserts most time of the Year and only a valley or a dryland ably to produce barley are.

      Those wished has raised by technologý by roads, cars, trains, telegrafs, electricity a.s.o.

      What has woken them up:


      • dutchnational


        In a really democratic and modern state, the state gets so complicated it cannot really control itself anymore in all aspects. One can see in many of those states that part of the central powers are delegated to a regional or even local level.

        In a state like that, a somewhat larger autonomy, or special rights for minorities are almost never a real problem.

  • Jens Holm

    So far most of the population in Raqqa Province are not even in Raqqa and Raqqa itself are ISIS.

    The compact PYD dominans in the top is fair and clear. The Counsil has to have a sekular attitude, where pld man shall not decide, what Young woman (and men) should do as now. Newer again.

    Age is no qualification in itself, gender up and down neither. Thats one of the bigges problems in Your countries.

    Things goes after family traditions, family relations and gender – not by school, education, skills and hard work paid pr hour.

    You therefore has a very ineffective production system. People has to by employd if they are best to the job and even nice people making good smir should find another job to a pay, which fit what he and she can do.

    Only Kurds and PYD has that sekular infrastructure and its impossible to make real improvemnets with most of it down incl. the families total overestimated qualifications for a more modern world with innovatioin in stead of looking back to tribe things in the old days.

    As written above there are many problems today housing all the refugees and righht now the SDF zone get more refugees every day and several are comming home with no possible possibilty to even feed them sporead out in a anarkistic way.

    These plans are the improviced one for the moment and is not the base for a state or a federation. At least 1 – might be 2 millions are not there – and its impossible with no help and threats from Turks and the more patiensed Assads.

    And what do some people compare with here. ISIS, Jihadist or the ineffective, corrupt, mafiosa look a like Baatista dictatorship ignoring the great part of Syria.

    Counsils include all and has a member of all tribes, etnicities, religion – all. Those are not 88% SAAm but local deciders, which are able to decide, where people are by doing it by themselves, because they know how the needs can be solved.

    Not some far away in Damaskus or a little fx in Aleppo.

    It gives back people responsability back to their own lives, but also should give more + for that.

    Old tribeleaders are given pension, so they dont need 10-12 children and Grandchildren to make them fat – so to speak. They are given that by tax and a rate, w´hich is to live at. Of course they can have extra by own hard work and gift fro´m their family.

    All children shall go to school and be educated in their own language. Its like that today. The female are just as bright as the boys and therefore very needed to raise the BNP after qualifications and paid equal. Many lazy men being nice to their father will realize that gender isnt enough. They are much below many woman in many matters.

    Thats showed in west. Woman havving the same condition incl. to walk free all over and mixted with men wíth no problems, are in the highest ranks as well.

    You might not like them, but You see people like Hillary, Merkel and May(UK) can lead countries without having dictatorship. You also see if fx US choose strange presidents like Trump, the country mainly go on as usual matters. And why:

    Well, because the responsabilty for things are divided into many places and people and not the Dictator to father one string line, with the woman center below with cars and computers being bought and sold by men down to 14 yéars(incl. kurds of course). NO MORE.

    So those tribes might educate leaders and learn and understand, that progress is not going back to better hay for the cars, but they also has to raise something soon and others during generations.

    But it shall be runned by the people. Correct those PYD`s certainly not are kurds from Raqqa, but the tribes of those leaders certainly is not either.

    I will finally write, that SDF is a proof that good infrastructure often are above tanks, airplanes, Firtinas and leopards. So many, which dont like ISIS, should see, thats what a better civile structure can give.

    As I recall it Raqqa Counsil later can choose and Kurds/PYD/SDF will be honered if they choosed the rest of the counsil as the choose. CHOOSE – CHOISE -. a new one is in Town. But its also not new. Its a kind of decentrlized marxisme. Marxisme was an ideolog – a direction.

    Later on Engels, Stalin and lenin made communism on the poor has right too, and how to get them.

    PKK are to my amateur oppinion more like reformed communists.

    • Solomon Krupacek

      go to the hell, kurdish motherfucker!

      • dutchnational

        I like him though.

        He respects your opinion, have the common decency to respect his, even if you do not agree. Courtesy is a vitue.

        • Jens Holm


          • dutchnational

            You wellcome.

      • Jens Holm

        Seems You think its perfect now and You just have to work for comming back to the good all days.

        The only thing, which has taken Syria from bankrupsy are the oil. Almost none devellopment of the rest. And who gets the oilmoney. Kurds starved to deatneh in 2008 and many many already poor people has left their dry farms, bacuse they are not helped up again by making updating irrigation systems as well as planting trees wasting for millions and millions of possible crops and billion of tons of vital water.

        My points should be clear. Kurds whatever they are, should decide more themselves local as well as others in Syria.

        And they do have ways to go, which in many matters seems to work in west. Jihadists has none. Assads has shown that killing all opposition is not possible and people having no choise for reforms join Jihadists.

    • Orcbuu

      Dont Ideolise Marxism, its Bullshit, an Illusion.
      If u are poor in a Communist state, dont think u have RIGHTS, its BULLSHIT.

      • Jens Holm

        Im not, Im a capitalist and has always been. Kurds cant be much poorer, and they also dont promise anybody they will be rich – just better.

        The marxists here has by Councils a decentralised version, and the main plus to me is a sekular public sector.

  • dutchnational

    One can hardly expect SDF to hand over the city of Raqqah, once liberated, to IS again, to other islamists or to an undemocratic regime that denies kurds and other minorities basic civil rights, including in half a million cases, citizenship itself.

    The SDF is trying to build a democratic city (or regional) council based upon the examples of Manbij and Tel Abyad, who seem to be working fine.

    That they build a local police force is to be commended. It indicates the willingness to prevent the lawlessness that is rampant in both Aleppo city and in the new turkish colony.

    It also indicates they do not want SDF forces to be very present in Raqqah city, which seems like a good idea.

    Lastly, it frees up the SDF forces that will have taken the city, to be deployed elsewhere.

    • Bob

      Except for obvious reality – Raqqah city is an Arab city – not Kurdish, SDF and US special forces are in effect just replacing ISIS as the new occupying force.

      • dutchnational

        SDF is part arab. Raqqah used to be (until 5 years ago) some 25% kurdish, whole kurdish districts in the city. The new police force will be largely arab, but once refugees start returning, expect there to be kurdish police officers too.

        Beyond all of this, sectarian thinking arabs are mostly concentrated within IS, rebel held areas, assadistan Syria. Relations between arabs and kurds within SDF held areas are mostly good, as a result of mutual respect and because of education.

        • Bob

          That reads like a SDF official announcement – routed through a US public-relations-media company, that completely ignores the far more complex realities of Kurdish-Arab relations and territorial constraints.
          SDF is ‘part Arab’, it is also part US special forces and part US Marine Corps, none of which means it is capable of actually administrating Syrian Arab cities.

          • dutchnational

            Sounds like the SAA : part Russian, part NDF, part Hezbollah, part Iran, part afghans, part PMU.

            None of which indicates they can govern a Syrian arab or Syrian kurdish cities. Oh, they can’t. Like Aleppo shows where NDF militia are rampantly bothering and killing civilians.

          • Bob

            You missed the point an ethnic minority of Kurds cannot run major Arab cities or countries – it is simply unsustainable and untenable, even if their US paymasters put some Arab mercenaries into the SDF to make it look more ‘diverse’ for (western) public relations reasons. Having SDF spokespeople periodically talking about taking Damascus and deposing Assad is utterly ridiculous – it would spark a unified mass Arab response.

    • Concrete Mike

      Raqqah Belong to the Syrian citizens. Syria is an inclusive State and should remain so.

      We in the west have no business in this stupid conflict, we are the cause, using Wedge issues that are being created like this kurds crap.

      One State can have many people under its banner. Its what makes Syria and Syrians great. Why would you want to take that away from Them?

      • dutchnational

        Inclusive of what? The Syrian ARAB State has never been inclusive of kurds and syriacs.

        • Concrete Mike

          Sunni Shia Christians druze ….Who are they???

          There is no alternative other that the legitimate Syrian goverment. Do you think à sunnistan would be more inclusive???give your head à shake.

          Thé first priority should bé réconciliation with the central State that Will be more inclusive. Dont pretend the kurds dont have an axe to grind, they are being pushed by thé Saudi right now. Saudi influence is like cancer, they only bring problème not solutions.

          Kurds are being used as à puppet, its pretty obvious, dont let their pseudo rightieousness fool you.

  • chris chuba

    Yeah, the U.S. wants the Syrian govt to pay for Raqqa’s reconstruction but have it remain in the hands of a paramilitary that it is encouraging to remain as independent from the central govt. As usual, we expect to have our cake and eat it too. Incompetence at the highest levels.