Syria’s fifth “province” to be attached to Hatay
Afrin Liberation Congress spokesperson Hasan Şindi has said that Hatay Governate would assume the task of coordinating the government of Afrin. According to Şindi, who spoke to Deutsche Welle Turkish, a deputy provincial governor to be appointed by Turkey will act as provincial governor in Afrin and bring about coordination. Şindi said that Turkish officials had been provided with the list of the 35-person city assembly resolved on at the meeting.
Restructuring efforts have commenced now that the Turkish Armed Forces and Free Syrian Army have established control in Afrin. According to a report by Cengiz Özbek of Deutsche Welle Turkish, an Afrin Liberation Congress Spokesman has said that “Afrin will be attached to Antakya” and a 450-person police force had been created in the city.
On the day on which it was announced that Turkey had established control over Afrin’s city centre, a congress on Afrin’s future was held in Gaziantep. A 35-person assembly along with five reserve members was elected at the “Afrin Liberation Congress” attended by notables from Afrin. In the statement made by congress spokesperson Hasan Şindi, he noted that there were 24 Kurds, 8 Arabs, one Alevi, one Yazidi and one Turkmen composing the membership of the assembly that would work to rebuild Afrin and establish order in the city.
Şindi, saying that coordination was currently being conducted from Gaziantep and they had supplied the provincial governate and Foreign Ministry with the list of people elected, stated that the situation would become clear within one week.
Coordination from Hatay
From the information that Şindi supplied, Hatay Governate would assume the task of coordinating the government of Afrin. A deputy provincial governor to be appointed by Turkey will act as provincial governor in Afrin and bring about coordination. Şindi, saying, “Afrin will be attached to Antakya,” went on to note that the Hatay Governor and “Afrin Governor” would be in coordination. The form of government through deputy governors that Turkey is planning to operate in Afrin was also brought into being in regions like Jarabulus, al-Bab, Azaz and Mare that had previously been captured in the Euphrates Shield Operation.
The forming of a 450-person police force to serve in the city centre was also announced. Şindi, saying, “Only the police will provide security. There will be no military force,” stated that the police force would come into operation within a few days and the Free Syrian Army would then withdraw from Afrin city centre.
Dicle University Faculty of Law teaching staff member Vahap Coşkun, recalling the comments made in January by Interior Minister Su¨leyman Soylu, “Today we have our sub-provincial governors in Azaz, Jarabulus and Mare. We have our police chief and tomorrow we will have our gendarmerie command,” said, “The minister said the officials he was referring to would perform their duties in civil service administrative positions virtually as if governing a municipal territory or sub-province in Turkey. There will be a similar situation in Afrin.” Coşkun said, “Legally speaking, there is a de-facto situation in place rather than a de jure situation. Turkey, having staged an operation in regions that it considers to pose a risk to it, has also assumed the mission of returning life there to normal and is carrying this out.”
Tu¨rmen: Sovereign powers may not be exercised
Former European Court of Human Rights judge Rıza Tu¨rmen, recalling the Hague Convention signed in 1907, said with reference to Turkey making appointments in another country’s territory, “According to international law, an occupying state is obliged to secure public order in the country’s occupied territory and protect the lives of the civilians there. However, the obligation is restricted to this and sovereign powers may not be exercised.” Tu¨rmen, noting that sovereign power in the regions in which Turkish-supported forces had established control still rested with the Syrian state, added, “Syrian laws are still in force here. Turkey must maintain the validity of these laws. But, of course, it may make certain provisions to preserve the public order or protect the lives and human rights of the people there.” Tu¨rmen also cautioned that Turkey would be held responsible for human rights violations that may occur in the areas in question.
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