NORTH and EAST SYRIA: Syriac Union Party visits Assyrian Democratic Organization in Zalin (Qamishli)

ZALIN, Syria — A delegation from the Syriac Union Party (SUP) in Syria visited the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) in its headquarters in Zalin (Qamishli) on Wednesday. Talking points between the two Syriac political parties were related to ways the two parties can continue common work towards securing constitutional political, cultural, and social rights for Syriacs (Assyrians-Chaldeans-Arameans) and joint steps to face the many crises and latest political developments in North and East Syria and the country in general, in particular the latest international efforts exerted to advance the peace process and a political solution in Syria.

The SUP delegation included SUP Co-Chair Sanharib Barsoum and Deputy Co-Chair of the Executive Council of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) and member of the SUP General Council Elizabeth Gawriye. They were received by ADO President Daoud Daoud, and ADO Executive Committee members Gabriel Mushe and Gebro Romanos. The ADO is not a member to the Democratic Autonomous Administration.

Since several years, the SUP and ADO have a memorandum of understanding in which they agree on common goals for the Syriac people and the need for democratic change and decentralization in Syria. Both parties in their respective alliances and platforms demand official recognition of the Syriac people and language – although the ADO in 2018 opposed the imposition of a Syriac curriculum on private Syriac schools in the DAA’s Gozarto region (al-Jazira).

After the 2011 popular uprising the Syriac Union Party joined forces with among others the PYD and YPG. The SUP is a co-founder of the DAA. Its armed forces the Syriac Military Council and its policing force Sutoro have been key partners in keeping peace and stability in North and East Syria, as much as is possible in a civil war.

The ADO has since its establishment in 1957 worked intensively and uninterrupted for the recognition of Syriac-Assyrian rights in Syria. To achieve its goals for the Syriacs, the ADO has worked in different formations and intensities also with Kurdish parties in Syria, some of which are outlawed in certain countries.

After the 2011 popular uprising the party joined the Turkey-based opposition Syrian National Council. Earlier in 2020, the ADO visited Massoud Barzani in the Kurdish Region in Iraq (KRI) after which it officially joined the Barzan and KDP-led Peace and Freedom Front in July 2020.

The establishment of the Peace and Freedom Front comes after the US and France initiated Kurdish-Kurdish talks to bring the PYD and the KRI Kurds around the table for rapprochement talks after an absence of several years of the KDP from northeastern Syria.

After Turkey and allied militant groups invaded and occupied the DAA in October 2019, some analyst belief the talks and involvement of Barzani’s KDP are intended to make the political party PYD and its armed forces YPG, part of the SDF, more acceptable to Turkey. Turkey is a long-time backer and partner of the KDP and the ruling Barzani family. Turkey in this way is better able to influence events at its Iraqi border and control and suppress threatening (intra-)Kurdish affairs. The PYD has to cope with many national and foreign powers after President Trump ordered a withdrawal of US troops and Turkey invaded and occupied northeastern Syria.