MIDDLE EAST

An urgent letter to President Trump regarding the situation in Raqqa

President Trump, may God bless you and keep you safe from the evil hands of those Democrats and Leftists who have their influence on global media and who continue their attempts to distort your image and beguile the world, even though you are the elected President of the United States of America, the world’s superpower without whose influence nothing occurs in the world and if they occur it is out of the apathy of the United States of America.

Dear Mr. President, I hope you allow me to address you as ‘Brother’ President Trump. From the very beginning of your presidential campaign, I was your outspoken supporter and advocate and opposed the Democratic candidate. Although I celebrate democratic values, I have always favored Republicans in America for reasons related to the interests of my region!

My friends on social media were surprised about my enthusiastic support for your campaign, as everyone thought that you would lose this election because the global mainstream media led having Leftist affiliations said so. They used to support your predecessor Obama as a member of the ‘world’s cultural elite’ who claim to have the best interest of the world and its human beings and even its wild animals and pets!

VIDEO: Lipstick, mixed dancing at first Raqqa wedding since ISIS

I would like to point out that we both have a common background in business. I have traded stocks for a long time in Saudi Arabia and unfortunately I failed to build a financial empire for reasons related to labor laws in that country and not due to personal ineptitude. I presume this will place us on a common ground and establish a sort of mutual understanding.

Allow me Brother President, after this introduction to initiate our dialogue on Al-Raqqah province, which has been almost completely destroyed and has become a disaster zone. I do not want to discuss and judge who is responsible for the destruction!

Nevertheless, I would like to bring to your kind attention that I had earlier met some members of the Obama administration, just after Raqqa had slipped out of the control of the Syrian regime.

These members of the US administration did offer to help us, but failed to provide us any! At that time, I warned them that the number of extremist Islamists was rising in the city, and that lack of support for local community would enable the extremists to seize control of Raqqa province.

I want everybody to know that the people of Raqqa are inherently secular and that religion has no essential role in their lives. They have never built their identity and interests on religious basis

Khalaf Ali Alkhalaf

You may access records of that conversation in some of your intelligence reports. If they had supported the local community at that time, the cost of eliminating the extremists would not have been higher than that of conducting an air raid by the coalition which was formed to fight the so-called Islamic State. Yes, the ISIS would have been buried at its inception and the world would have been spared of the costs and atrocities.

Even from the military angle, the local population had a credible and effective military capacity that could have defeated the menace of extremists. Until this moment, I cannot understand why the Obama administration turned its back on us and left us to contend with all the extremist groups, leading to the eventual control of the ISIS over our province, which became its stronghold!

This is exactly our starting point Brother President — a ruined city recently controlled by your allies (SDF) with a noticeable presence of your land forces that will deter any attempt from the regime or its Russian and Iranian allies to launch an offensive to take back the province.

Let me clearly highlight some facts in our region to you personally. The most important of these facts is that the local community has no entrenched hostility against your country, despite Baathist indoctrination against the US for over a half century. Citizens of the region only care about their immediate interests; their agriculture, livestock, and business and the discourse of ‘resistance’ is of no value to them.

Thus, they do not have hostility towards anyone on ideological grounds. This is also the reason why totalitarian ideas and parties failed to find a foothold in their minds. I want everybody to know that the people of Raqqa are inherently secular and that religion has no essential role in their lives. They have never built their identity and interests on religious basis.

Also read: Russia likens US coalition bombing of Raqqa to WWII Dresden

The absolute majority believes in God, but in a reasonable and moderate manner as if he is a neighboring tribe’s Shaikh holding a high status. Religion here was never an essential or even secondary determinant of identity. The system that governed their stable social structure and their relations and interests for hundreds of years was the clan system.

Moreover, Pan-Arab national sentiment was not a part of the identity and interests of the indigenous Arab population in Al-Raqqa region which constitutes the majority. Arabs in Al-Raqqah did not have any hostility towards Kurds, Assyrians, or Armenians who have inhabited our region fleeing from ethnic cleansing. They lived with us side-by-side as part of the social mosaic.

Kurds and the rest of the community are in fact our brothers with whom we share a common destiny. They have suffered injustice and oppression we have suffered under the Assad regime, whom you branded ‘an animal’ although I think this was not the best description since no animal would commit the atrocities Assad committed. All segments of our community have suffered from the savagery of ISIS that inherited the rule of Assad in our region and committed the same atrocities like Assad.

Having said that, we want to reconstruct the city and encourage the community to rebuild its capabilities taking into consideration that any authority and administration will not be functional unless it considers the existing tribal structure of the local community in Raqqa. Assad failed in that and any new authority that ignores this fact will be doomed to failure.

We have an established social structure with all its powers, scales and power distributions within that structure; we even have the names of those social leaders who have their actual communication network which is able to mobilize people in this particular state of emergency. We believe that any attempt to create new leaders or even a new approach to address the aftermath of ISIS elimination in Raqqa will not succeed no matter who seeks to implement it, now or in the future. We are certain that any development of this structure must proceed from itself.

Also read: Saudi Arabia hopes for eradication of terrorism in region after Raqqa victory

The local community in Raqqa is trying to arrange itself on this basis, taking into consideration that your administration does not have a clear plan for the province after the defeat of ISIS according to statements and declarations made publicly by a few senior sources in your administration. Hence, we can build sustainable cooperation based on our common interests.

On the basis of the distribution of powers within the clan structure — the Sheiks, economic stalwarts, social and political actors, who by virtue of the nature of the tribal establishment are capable of mobilizing individuals of the community behind them effectively and voluntarily. This institution can then grant legitimacy to any existing or future authority or administration it can hold.

Of course, existing or future authorities can govern and control as Assad's tyranny and ISIS did without the need for this legitimacy, and it can also fabricate alternative legitimacy, but I assure you that Brother President, it will not facilitate substantial dealing with the population there.

Our strategy as a group of actors is simple; we are trying to build a framework group representing the majority of the population which can play a key role in communicating with existing authorities in whatever form it is, and with the local population to achieve their interests to overcome this ordeal in the current phase of emergency.

Then we move to enable the local community in each village, region, town, and city, to present their elected real representatives, and to manage their own areas wherever their supreme authority lies. That will not be like Assad’s way that Kurds have begun to repeat, unfortunately. In accordance with this, we shall establish an elected representative council [local parliament] that monopolizes the legitimacy of the entire population and gives rise to administrative authority.

This is not our invention; it is a successful global management system. Our mission is to adapt this to the local environment and to produce a real administrative system that will make the people of the province supreme and final authority over their affairs. This can continue even after the political settlement in Syria because we are the ones who decide our affairs.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that starting any work related to restoring life to the province, without building this reference will allow corruption to consume all the aid and resources that will be allocated to the people, with the result that the local community will get only a small fraction of the aid. This has happened earlier when some people of the city and their partners gobbled up the few dollars provided for refugee relief in the city.

Brother President Trump, we look forward to a joint cooperation that may serve the interests of the population as well as the world’s interest in preventing the rise of extremism and tyranny.

Finally, we invite you and all the members of your administration to have lunch in our city, at any time of your choosing.

Khalaf Ali Alkhalaf

Poet and writer from Raqqa
__________________________
Khalaf Ali Alkhalaf is a poet and writer from Raqqa.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 14 November 2017 KSA 11:07 - GMT 08:07
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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An urgent letter to President Trump regarding the situation in Raqqa
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