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As Corona exposes the fragility and callousness of the Nation-State system, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria is proving far more capable. In many ways the system is designed to operate well in times of challenge and crisis – and for years it has weathered war, embargo, and terrorism. Despite these constant pressures, the system has survived and developed. The challenge it now faces is severe: a global pandemic combined with the constant attacks of the Turkish state. These attacks have repeatedly targeted infrastructure needed to fight the virus, and left hundreds of thousands of civilians without water. In addition, during the last invasion Turkish forces killed many medical personnel and seized one of the region’s main hospitals.
State governments have shown that their priority is the economy and the wellbeing of the wealthy and privileged. But the Autonomous Administration is run by the people, and puts their needs first. It is also flexible and responsive, with many projects quickly appearing or adapting to meet the demands of the situation. Meghan Bodette describes how the system of Communes and Cooperatives is responding to the pandemic.