The challenges of Syrian civil society: a triangular dilemma (Syria, Kurdish, Turkish)

The organization and establishment of civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations in Syria is governed by a 1958 law. Under this law, it is almost impossible to register an independent civil organization. This law witnessed a breakthrough during Bashar al-Assad’s assumption of power in Syria.

The Syrian regime is alert to the seriousness of this situation, so the movement has been stoned, its members arrested and its organizations dissolved and banned. Under this law, many organizations were established for children, youth and women, but they were the exclusive preserve of the Baath Socialist Party. In late 2015 a draft law was prepared to regulate the civil work in Syria and was submitted to the People’s Assembly in the hope of assisting relief and economic development organizations to provide assistance and support to the victims of the Syrian conflict. However, the law was withdrawn in early 2016 and the file was closed.

This situation is not absent in the rest of the Syrian regions in the Syrian opposition areas. There are no laws regulating this issue, especially since the Islamic courts that administer the legislation do not include a basis for civil work and democracy and human rights issues which in their opinion are considered a Western heresy. Civil organizations are subject to military control and military faction trends, many of whom have been abducted and their headquarters closed. In areas under the control of democratic self-management areas of civil society organizations live fared better if compared to the former two regions.

The emergence of civil society organizations in this region for decades is a result of its historical Kurdish presence, in parallel with the dual actions that the Syrian regime carried out in the Syrian regions in general before the outbreak of the Syrian popular protest movement, the citizens of this region suffered a situation of double persecution once they were part of the general Syrian situation and once they were in conflict with the Syrian regime which prevented the enjoyment of their cultural rights and deprived them of expression about their identity, use their language and review their history.

Which called on these citizens to work through civil society organizations in the political frameworks in secret to revive their language and transfer their history and peaceful civil work to promote democracy in Syria and resolving the issue of the Syrian Kurds within this trend did not know the Kurdish community of violence in their struggles over those decades, The main focus is on peaceful civil action. The Kurdish language associations, the Kurdish culture, the rights and others, which focused on the continuity of the Kurds and their history, have proliferated.

With the dramatic changes that took place in Syria after the year 2011 and the control of the Syrian Kurds over their areas, the status of clandestine civil society has changed to the public and the number of organizations has increased significantly in 2015 to more than 150 local organizations and different orientations, interests and competencies. Has suffered major pressures both internationally and locally after 2015, Turkey, which has the largest number of Syrian refugees, is considered the international and domestic humanitarian and civilian stronghold of the Syrians within Turkey and Syria. As a result of the military conflict between Turkey and the Kurds, Turkey has bee n accused of the self-governing authority of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Part of the PKK, a terrorist group in Turkey.

The Turkish authorities prevented all organizations on their territory from providing all forms of support and funding to the organizations working in the area of control of the self-democratic administration. This was done concurrently with the European consensus with this trend. Turkey regards as a strategic ally of the Europeans. This has prevented the Syrian regime from any international organizations operating in its areas of control to deal in any way with the authority of democratic self-management and the decline of civil work largely after these pressures. Despite the presence of approximately one million Syrian refugees from areas of military conflict between the opposition and the regime to the region, the organizations and the (self-management) were unable to cover the large humanitarian needs.Adding to this a number of difficulties, particularly the decline in the control of the Daesh organization Neighboring Kurdish areas, whose citizens suffered greatly.

They faced great magnitude in the effects of violent extremism and terrorism on them, especially the categories of women, adolescents and youth. Although civil society organizations emphasized these needs and conveyed them to the international community, neither Turkey nor its European allies On the idea of preventing the support of civil work in the region and exceeded the exclusion of the region and refugees in the Kurdistan region of Iraq from the plan to support Brussels.

This is in addition to difficulties and obstacles related to the nature of the laws and control of the Autonomous Democratic Administration, specifically, measures undertaken by the administration towards civil society organisations with respect to preventing these organisations from expressing political opinions or criticizing the administration and its actions, in addition to that the heavy burden of getting approval for any activity or events in the region, which will discuss in reviewing the law in the Policy paper which will be issued soon.