Raqqa, Rojava, Syria

Raqqa (Rakka)

Raqqa (Arabic: الرقةar-Raqqah; Kurdish: Reqa) also called Raqa, Rakka and Al-Raqqah is a city in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria.

It is located on the northeast bank of the Euphrates River, about 160 kilometres (99 miles) east of Aleppo, and 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the Tabqa Dam, Syria’s largest dam.

Raqqa is a historic city, it was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate between 796 and 809, under the reign of Harun al-Rashid.

Daesh (the self-styled Islamic State), made the city its de facto capital in 2014.

It was liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces on 17 October, 2017. The declaration of the city’s liberation was given by YPJ women fighting in the front line against the IS. This declaration was announced on 19 October 2017 in the Al-Naim Square, where the Islamic State had carried out public executions.

The administration of the liberated city of Raqqa was soon handed over to a civilian council. This civil council began with 60 members and now (October 2018) consists of 200 Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Turkmens and Syriacs. The co-presidency is chaired by an Arab and a Kurdish representative. The council organises popular assemblies in central Raqqa, the towns, districts and villages. Representatives of the Council have been opened in many places and communes have been formed throughout the city.

The population is steadily returning to the city. Shops are opening everywhere. The houses, which had been abandoned due to the escape from the IS, are also beginning to fill up with life again. There is a lot going on in the markets and squares. The construction machines work around the clock on the reconstruction of the city. The Mansura and Kornish bridges, which spanned the Euphrates in the south of the city, had been blown up by the IS. The repair and maintenance of the bridges has also begun. The people who live on the opposite side of the river still cross it with ferries and barges.

Under the IS rule, the town hall was turned into a torture center and prison. Now the building has been reopened. The city administration plays an important role in the renewal of the infrastructure destroyed by the war and started its work with a staff of 13 people. There are already 150 people offering services there at the moment. Among other things, they deal with infrastructure, electricity and bread production. While almost every house in Raqqa is connected to the water network, at the moment only three neighborhoods can be reached by the main power supply. The other neighborhoods are supplied with interruptions by generators. In areas such as Mansur, Rashidiya, Rafqa, Mahdi and Salihiya, which had become a scene of fierce fighting between the IS and the SDF, mine clearance continues.

In the 2004 official census, Raqqa’s population was recorded as 220,488, making it the sixth largest city in Syria. A more recent unofficial report estimates a population of 1 million.

 

Explainer: The Syrian Democratic Council – A proposal for a democratic Syria

The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) is a political assembly representing political parties and organizations in North and East Syria. The SDC creates a political framework for the governance of Syria along a decentralized, federal model. It is the political body to which the SDF reports. It is also the political counterpart to the Autonomous Administration, which takes on more administrative and executive functions. Negotiations with the Syrian government, as well as diplomatic relations with international powers, are generally conducted through the SDC.

Women in Girê Spî Camp Develop Communal Projects

As part of the project women grow different vegetables and sell the tomato paste and pickles they prepare.

Explainer: Co-operatives in North and East Syria – developing a new economy

Currently, North and East Syria (NES) faces enormous economic difficulties: rampant inflation, a partial embargo, war and the draining of resources by occupying Turkish forces in Sere Kaniye, Tel Abyad and Afrin. In this crisis context, NES is developing an economic model which aims at self-sufficiency and sustainability. The economic program of the Autonomous Administration

Raqqa’s Cotton Harvest Production Lower than Expected

Muhammad al-Abdullah, a farmer from the village of Kasrat Afnan 8 km south of the city of Raqqa, northern Syria, believes that the price of one kilogram of cotton should reach SYP 1,200 this year in order to cover its production costs.    With the approaching cotton harvest season in the countryside of Raqqa, farmers

Explainer: TEV-DEM – Unions and Counter-Power

TEV-DEM was founded in 2011 to build up the democratic system of communes and assemblies. This is the role that it played in the previous system, in the three initial cantons: Afrin, Jazeera and Kobane. In Manbij, Raqqa, Tabqa and Deir ez-Zor regions, however, the SDC took on the role of implementing the democratic confederalist

Women establish food co-operative in Raqqa

A group of women founded the al-Fardos Co-operative to care for the needy in Raqqa. The co-operative is open especially at mealtimes and gives the needy the opportunity to eat for free. The women have been working on the project in the neighborhood of al-Fardo in the war-torn city for five months.