Roundtable “Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria: Between Hammers and Anvils”

Date of publication: November 23, 2023

Prague Centre for Middle East Relations (PCMR) of CEVRO held a closed roundtable Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria: Between Hammers and Anvils. Our distinguished guests were members of Syrian National Coalition Dr. Abdelhakim Bachar, Abdullah Kaddo and Muhamad Nazir Hakim.

Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) is facing multiple challenges stemming from intra-Syrian, regional and global dynamics. Syrian conflict remains highly transnationalized with variety of powerful actors, some siding with the Syrian regime and others betting on supporting various opposition groups. All the actors have competing interests and visions on the post-war arrangements in Syria generally and on the fate of NES specifically. NES finds itself in the complex web of relations and incompatible policies of said actors. Moreover, NES administration is being challenged internally. Economic situation has been deteriorating steadily. Intra-Kurdish and Kurdish-Arab relations have become increasingly constrained. ISIS, albeit territorially defeated, continues to be a serious security challenge. During the expert roundtable, we discussed the current situation in NES while focusing on the multi-faceted challenges and how NES tackles them.

The event was be held in English under the Chatham House Rules.

The debate was moderated by Tomáš Kaválek, Director of PCMR.

Dr. Abdelhakim Hawass Bachar (b. 1958) is a Vice-president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. As a veteran Syrian Kurdish opposition politician he joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS) in 1978, raising through the ranks of the party to become its secretary from 2007 to 2014. In 1995, he survived an assassination attempt of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) for his role in supporting Kurdistan Democratic Party in Iraq. He is one of the signatories of the Damascus Declaration of 2005. In 2011, he was one of the founders of major Syrian Kurdish opposition coalition – Kurdish National Council (ENKS) and became its first president till 2012. Later he also served as the Chairman of ENKS’ Foreign Relations Committee. Syrian regime’s repression against him forced him outs of the country in late 2011.

Abdullah Kaddo (b. 1964) is a member of the Political Body of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces since 2018. He has been active in Syrian Kurdish opposition politics since 1984 and is member of the Political Committee of the Kurdistan Yekiti Party – Syria. Abdullah Kaddo is also a member of the Kurdish Writers and Journalists Association in Syria, publishing extensively on Syrian political and cultural affairs in general and Kurdish cultural and linguistic rights in particular. He has been subjected to repression from the Syrian regime since the end of 2013 due to his political activities and was arrested for six months by the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria authorities led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in 2016.

Dr. Muhamad Nazir Hakim (b. 1950) is a member of the General Assembly of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces. He is currently affiliated with National Future Movement. He joined the opposition Islamic political movement in Syria in his youth and had to flee Syria in 1976 fearing Syrian regime’s reprisals. He is on of the co-founders of Syrian National Council and Syrian National Council. He served the SNC in the capacities of member of Political Committee and the head of foreign mission to Turkey. Dr. Muhamad holds three doctorates and has worked for French universities and is a director and general technical coordinator in France’s Le Circuit Electrique.