A year after the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) came in control of Raqqa, Northern Syria, the city has been suffering several disputes between the area’s people and the administration assigned for running it, but what disturbed the people the most for the past a few weeks was the targeting of the “SDF” troops and the employees cooperating with it in several areas of the governorate, which led to the death of dozens of its personal and created a source for constant concern for the administration, as well as a point of weakness that it is attempting to overcome.
Raqqa is of a strategic importance to the Kurdish Self-management, which tries to present it to the world as a safe zone, from where “SDF” managed to expel the “Islamic State” (ISIS) and provide with stability, in preparation for the implementation of reconstruction projects there.
The “Syrian Democratic Forces” won complete control over Raqqa in September 2017 backed by the US-led coalition, after a series of battles with the “Islamic State,” which considered the city a capital for what it called the “Islamic Caliphate.”
Mohammad, a 32 years old human rights activist and a resident of the city of Raqqa, said that “the state of attrition that [SDF] is suffering has become painful and worrying for the Management and its supporters.”
The continuity of these attacks will affect the image that the Self-management is trying to give the world about the stability in its areas, their supporters in particular, whose troops in the areas have been also targeted though they have a limited on-ground action.
The “Islamic State,” which have been lately resorting to quick raids as to reduce the pressure upon its last strongholds in Deir ez-Zor, has announced a security operation against a convoy of American and local forces on September 19 in Geweran neighborooh, southern al-Hasakah.
While America did not comment on the attack, the ISIS-affiliated news agency “Amaq” reported that the attack led to the death of 15 troops and the injury of others, including American personnel.
Mohammad used the word “fragile” to describe the security situation in Raqqa and other areas under “SDF,” which will definitely affect its international relations and both the civil and military aid it is offered.
A Human Depletion
A number of the residents whom Enab Baladi has interviewed believe that the recurrent attacks against “SDF” has weakened the local people’s confidence in it, including Ahmad, 45 years old, a resident of Raqqa and a former member of one of the civil councils under “SDF.”
“The Kurdish management is not offering anything, while in return it demands cooperation,” Ahmad told Enab Baladi, adding that the gap between “SDF” and the Arab surrounding is widening, in addition to a state of contempt among the people towards the “Kurdish Management.”
Ahmad described his work with “SDF” as “Superficial and unsuccessful,” adding that “Many of the Arab people who worked with SDF have either resigned or dropped out of their jobs, and those who stayed have done this only for the sake of the salary.”
One of the key reasons that led to the people’s quitting their jobs is the fear of becoming targets, in addition to the feelings of marginalization and the lack of independent decisions.
Many of the area’s people and the activists are concerned about the increasing hostilities against “SDF” and those cooperating with it, and, accordingly, “SDF” ‘s reaction towards the areas it controls and their residents, according to Omar al-Hussian, 34 years old man from rural Raqqa.
“Many people are angry at SDF’s behavior, especially with the increasing inspection campaigns in the streets and raiding the houses which is traditionally unacceptable in the area, which increases the resentment of the local community,” the young man added.
The Internal Security forces in Raqqa have imposed a curfew on September 7, according to which they prevented the people from leaving their houses, except for the two hours between 10 AM to 12 PM, justifying this by seeking the safety of the civilians until the end of the “security Operations” in pursuit of ISIS-affiliate cells, according to an official statement which it published on its social networking sites.
Omar al-Hussian added that “the security-based solution is ineffective, and that the area’s people have demands and complaints, and that their voice must be herd, and they must have a real role in leadership, ruling the area and reconstruction, otherwise the area would not witness any calm or stability.”
Rule of Law
“SDF” troops justify their behavior and the procedures they are imposing with security necessity, according to Hassan Ibo, 22 years old “SDF” troop, adding to Enab Baladi that “the area is in need for the imposition of the law, following years of chaos and the proliferation of weapons.”
“The restoration of stability, stopping the riots and applying the law need resolve and zero-tolerance,” according to the fighter, who refused the allegations that the area’s people are being suppressed, confirming that “the acts and the riots calling for destruction must be stopped by all possible means.”
He attributed the arrests in Raqqa to two main reasons: The first is legal, including perpetrators and criminals, and the second is military related, under which mandatory military service escapees are captured, denying the presence of arbitrariness or injustice, and pointing out that there are judiciary entities to which people can resort to file lawsuits.
While polarization between the pro and anti-Kurdish forces’ groups goes on, the people of Raqqa live with recurrent explosions and the lack of stability, which the human rights activists expressed by saying that “it seems that our destiny is constant fear and worry, due to shelling formerly, and battles and chaos before it, today is the fear from explosions […]. Going out on the streets is an adventure engulfed in concern every time a car or a bicycle passes near you.”