Mayor of al-Qamishli, Muáz Abdulkarim, exits the door to his office on crutches he needs for a broken leg sustained after a suicide attack by ISIS on his offices in mid March. Muáz Abdulkarim's office is a simple room in a former hospital turned city hall for Rojava's largest city, al-Qamishli. There's no air conditioning, the room is sparsely furnished with stiff blue couches, and a single telephone rings constantly on a cluttered glass desk.
Muáz is six months into his two-year term as the first democratically elected Kurdish mayor of al-Qamishli since Assad's regime relinquished control of the city. The problems he faces as mayor are staggering, as city services and funding for the estimated 400,000 residents were nonexistent when the government was first established in late 2013. A decrepit infrastructure, water and food scarcity, massive unemployment, and a failing economy are just a few of the many problems Muáz and his administration are trying to tackle in the larger context of a country at war with itself.
Despite the hardships and challenges faced, Muáz stresses that "we want to show all people that we will work until the last drop of our blood."
In mid March he was injured during a suicide attack on his office complex by two ISIS militants that killed 10 people, including a pregnant woman. Muáz narrowly escaped the attack by jumping from his second-story office window, breaking his leg.