Nadine Maenza: U.S. government should recognize Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria

LONDON — Nadine Maenza, Commissioner of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said in an interview with London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) that the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) project supports tolerance and religious freedom and is deserving of political recognition by the United States.

Maenza discussed the DAA’s policies of religious freedom, which brings stability and opens up prospects for economic growth.

“Many studies have proved that governments that support tolerance and religious freedom tend to be more stable and have better prospects for economic growth,” said Maenza. “The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria conditions are positive when compared to areas under HTS, the Regime, and the Turkish occupation.”

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USCIRF has recommended to the U.S. government that the DAA be given the opportunity to further develop economically and continue to be a haven for religious tolerance in Syria, said Maezna.

Asked about the human and religious rights in other areas of Syria, Maezna stated:

The USCIRF report shows crimes of raping, kidnapping, and other atrocities that faced the religious minorities in the areas controlled by Turkey in northern Syria. In Afrin, a Yazidi woman named Ghazala Manna Salmo faced severe torture. Christians such as Radwan Muhammad have been arrested for apostasy. Turkey’s continuous shelling of civilian areas constitutes a direct threat to religious and ethnic minorities. The attacks targeted the expansion of their territory in a violation of the ceasefire negotiated by the U.S. in 2019, with a pretext that the targeted people were all affiliated with the PKK, which was not true. Turkey and its Islamists militias accuse civilians in northeast Syria of being “terrorists,” were the real terrorists.

In its 2020 and 2021 reports, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. government should politically recognize the DAA as a local and legitimate government. While the Biden Administration is reviewing its current policy toward Syria, said Maezna, we hope that it will follow our recommendations.