Syrian Kurds register to set up mission in Washington

Syrian Kurds register to set up mission in Washington

Cansu Çamlıbel - WASHINGTON
Syrian Kurds register to set up mission in Washington

The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), the political wing of the armed group the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has registered with the United States Department of Justice to open a foreign representative office in Washington, it has been revealed.

The registry file was put into effect on Jan. 31 in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the SDC was registered as a “foreign political party.”

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which constitutes the backbone of the SDC, and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), are deemed by Turkey as offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Ankara, the U.S. and the European Union.

Operation Olive Branch

The SDC’s application was uploaded onto the Department of Justice website on Jan. 23, three days after the Turkish Armed Forces started “Operation Olive Branch” into Syria’s northwestern district of Afrin to clear YPG forces from the area.

“The legislative agenda of the U.S. Mission of the Syrian Democratic Council will involve efforts to better equip the army of Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS); improve the region’s counter-terrorism apparatus to meet the needs of the post-ISIS era; end the Turkish occupation of Syria; allow the DFNS to operate an international airport; and increase humanitarian aid to the region,” it was said in the application file.

Sinem Muhammed, a Syrian national, and three other Syrian individuals were pointed as representatives of the SDC in the U.S., according to the document. The headquarters address of the SDC was shown as the Syrian town of Al-Darbasiyah which is in the northeastern governorate of Hassakah and just opposite the Kızıltepe district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Mardin.

‘Decentralized, secular federalism’

The aims of the SDC mission in the U.S. are explained in the application as follows: “The Presidency committee of the Syrian’ Democratic Council has tasked all of the mentioned names (officers of the registrant) to serve as a conduit between the U.S government and the Syrian Democratic Council, for the purpose of educating U.S policymakers about the democratic struggle in Syria and the work of the SDC to implement a decentralized, secular, system of federalism in Syria.”

In the application file, the question on whether they have accepted foreign financial aid in the last 60 days is answered as “Yes” and the donations of $60,000 are shown as the main financial source of the SDC mission’s activities.

CHP and HDP also registered

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from Turkey are also registered in the U.S. as foreign political parties in accordance with the FARA.

Hundreds of lobbyists acting on behalf of foreign governments or organizations are registered under the FARA in order to legally get in contact with U.S. officials and congressional committees.