In Focus | The Future of Stability and Security in Deir ez-Zor Province
On June 4, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a security campaign that covered the countryside of Deir ez-Zor province in the name of deterring terrorism. As of end of July 2020, two stages of the security campaign have been implemented, resulting in the arrest of around 140 people.
The campaign coincided with demonstrations in the northern and eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, calling for the Kurdish autonomous administration to improve the deteriorating living conditions, release detainees, end the monopoloy over resources in the areas under their control, condemn corruption and the absence of services, and end the arbitrary detention campaigns perpetrated against people of the region.
Two days before the launch of the second phase of the campaign, Mazloum Abdi, the SDF leader, held a meeting with a delegation of elders and clan elders from Deir ez-Zor, who demanded that the region be granted more administrative powers, called on SDF to fight the manifestations of corruption and change the education curricula. The demands were the same ones raised by demonstrators in Deir ez-Zor’s villages.
The majority of those under arrest in the campaign against terrorism are civilians, including a member of the clan delegations. Democratic Union Party (PYD) then relies on its cooperation with the United States to combat terrorism with the aim of serving its security policies.
With the exception of Hamoud al-Askar’s announcement that he and his group, numbering around 140 members, will stop working in the ranks of the SDF in eastern Deir ez-Zor, in protest of the PYD practices, no clan elders or elders have made any announcements regarding this issue. This is both from the delegation that met with Mazloum Abdi and from those who did not join the delegation and opposes SDF’s policies from prior to the start of the protests.
The persistence of corruption and the undermining of the powers of the Arab component in the region alongside the lack of seriousness in combating ISIS cells, makes Deir ez-Zor an ideal environment for security chaos. The current situation limits the possibility of finding a solution for the problem of villages and towns controlled by the Syrian regime east of the Euphrates River which would reduce the internal displacement crisis, address economic pressures and decrease the levels of tension and constant alertness.
In the absence of any international and regional initiatives by the United States directly, or indirectly through some of its Arab allies in the region, it does not seem that the intensity of the demonstrations in Deir ez-Zor will decrease. ISIS will find an environment of instability to invest in and expand its activities. The current situation in Deir ez-Zor represents a threat to the goals of the international coalition.
Unit of Analysis and Thinking - Jusoor for Studies
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