Municipalities in North and East Syria
Municipalities in North and East Syria are elected local service administrations with an alternative system based on administrative decentralization and semi-autonomy. The model of democratic commune local administrations based on an ecological-economic vision that believes in women’s freedom. It organizes and provides services based on the organized and democratic power of social groups and segments. It organizes its activities according to the environmental community’s vision and goals and direct participatory democracy. It cooperates and coordinates with the local councils of cities, districts and towns, and carries out all its service activities in coordination with the communes, as the communes are considered the primary source of the will of the people and the decision-making mechanism in them is from the bottom to the top.
The most prominent events experienced by the municipalities
The establishment of municipalities in North and East Syria began in the city of Qamishli in early 2012, after the withdrawal of the security forces of the Syrian regime, all service institutions began to operate at the initiative of the people in the region. The People’s House (Malên Gel) was established and in turn provided the necessary service needs for the people, then the first municipality was established in the city of Qamishli under the name “People’s Municipality” on December 10th 2012. This was followed by the establishment of the municipality of Amuda and then Derik, after which the people’s municipalities were established in the three regions (Jazeera, Kobani, Afrin) and following the liberation of the eastern regions from ISIS terrorism, people’s municipalities were established in Raqqa, Tabqa, Manbij, and Deir ez-Zor.
The founding conference of municipalities was held on May 18th 2013, in the presence of representatives of all municipalities and civil institutions, in addition to representatives of many political parties. The conference resulted in the establishment of a unified internal system for all municipalities, and the adoption of many decisions that would develop alternative municipalities, the most important decisions were:
Establishing a municipal academy for training and rehabilitation of human resources.
Renaming cities and villages to their original historical names after the Syrian regime had Arabized them.
Protect and document archaeological sites in the region, and preserve their authenticity.
Preparing a database on all components, nationalities, and different cultures in the region.
Establishing protection centers for abused women.
The Municipalities Law was approved by the Legislative Council of the Autonomous Administration on November 23rd 2014, and the people’s municipal elections were held for the first time in North and East Syria in March 2015, where each municipality was elected two co-chairs and members of the municipal council according to direct democratic elections. In 2016, the first women’s conference for municipalities was held, and then the first general conference was held in July 2016.
The Second Municipalities Conference in North and East Syria was held in October 2022 with the participation of representatives from all municipalities, and the organization of municipalities was approved under the umbrella of the “Union of Municipalities,” which plays the role of guidance and coordination between all municipalities and guarantees the independence of their decisions and their reliance on the will of the local communes.
Currently, municipalities are organized under the umbrella of the Local Administration Authority in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, followed by municipal committees in the local district councils, which in turn supervise the municipalities of cities, districts, and towns, in addition to several service directorates such as the Water Directorate, the Transportation Directorate, the Cleaning Division, The Parks Division, the Technical Office, the People’s Relations Office, the Women’s Office, the Child Welfare House… and other committees and offices.
There are 132 municipalities distributed in the geography of North and East Syria, as follows:
57 municipalities in Al-Jazeera region, 14 municipalities in the Al-Furat region, 16 municipalities in Raqqa, 19 municipalities in Deir ez-Zor, 6 municipalities in Manbij, 9 municipalities in Tabqa, 6 municipalities in Al-Shahba. The total number of workers in the municipalities of North and East Syria is 11,490 male and female workers (2023 statistics)
Development in the level of services
Despite the scourge of the ongoing crisis and wars that the region is experiencing, the destruction of infrastructure by terrorist groups, and the result of the Turkish state’s attacks targeting vital centers, during the years of the Rojava Revolution, many important strategic projects were implemented to revive the region’s infrastructure. These projects include:
Replacing the sewerage network in the main lines of the city of Qamishli, and lighting the main streets in several cities.
Implementing waste transfer and refining stations.
Asphalting the main roads in NE Syria that connect the regions.
Implementing large parks and green spaces in many cities.
Rehabilitating strategic bridges damaged as a result of the war.
Implementing wells and water supply projects to secure drinking water in cities and districts.
Women in the municipalities of North and East Syria
According to the Social Contract of the Autonomous Administration, the representation of women and men side by side was adopted as a main priority in the municipalities, and in this context; The Co-Chairs system was implemented, and in addition to the co-chairs of the municipalities, this system was adopted in the councils and all other departments in the municipalities. Independent work was also carried out to organize women in municipalities.
All women’s activities were organized independently in the municipalities. These activities aimed to revive the ideology of women’s freedom, understand this perception by all segments of society, implement actions in this context, and build a common life. During the years of the revolution, work was done to revive the mentality of women’s freedom in municipal work, as well as in the social, military, and political fields. In light of this, women became involved in working on councils and committees and in many fields, received and presented many training courses, and took concrete steps to influence society.
Women’s offices in municipalities are not only responsible for managing women workers in municipalities, but they are also responsible for developing projects related to women and children in cities, neighborhoods, towns, and villages. 10% of the municipal budget is allocated to women’s projects, and the general orientation of these projects is towards new concepts such as the communal economy. Environmentally friendly projects that meet the actual needs of women in society. Among the most important projects carried out by women in municipalities are:
Projects to raise women’s economic status: restaurants, bakeries, sewing workshops, and handicraft workshops.
Projects to care for the children of working mothers: kindergartens – nurseries.
Agricultural projects under the supervision of women: nurseries – tree planting – fields for growing vegetables.
Training and awareness projects: to train women in various skills such as languages, programming, and small crafts.
The Women’s Housing Association Project: It is one of the important projects to support women who are exposed to violence and pressure and homeless women. It is a project under implementation and is considered an integrated shelter for sheltering, training, and educating women and supporting their own decisions, isolated from the pressure of masculine mentality.
Diplomatic relations in municipalities
During the past years, several friendship agreements were signed between the municipalities of North and East Syria and the municipalities of outside cities. Cooperation relationships were also built and with many external institutions, delegations were exchanged and various projects were implemented. The most important of these relationships are:
Signed a memorandum of friendship between the municipality of Derik and the German municipality of Berlin-Friedrichshain, and also between the municipality of Şeiran in Kobani and the Italian municipality of Valba Rei Sofi.
Building cooperative relations with the Federation of Italian Municipalities, and based on this cooperation, many projects were implemented in the field of training and services, granting financial support, and exchanging experiences.
Building relationships with many organizations under the auspices of the French Daniel Mitterrand Foundation and with the participation of some of municipalities such as Paris, Lyon, Poitiers, and Grenoble
Establishing a support network called “Yasmine” with the aim of cooperation between the municipalities of North and East Syria
The official website of the municipalities of Al-Jazeera Region: