Can the sixth round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee make difference from the previous ones?

Zara Saleh
Zara Saleh

Since the end of the fifth round of the UN-led Syrian Constitutional Committee (SCC) on January 29, the Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen has needed more than nine months to launch the sixth round of the Syrian marathon talks in Geneva. On Sunday 17th of October, for the first time, Geir Pedersen achieved his only ‘success’ in Geneva-led Syrian negotiations after the failure of the five previous rounds without any notable changes for the last two years of his ‘impossible mission’.

The two committee co-chairs of the Syrian opposition representative, and the Syrian regime’s side has sat down together with the UN Special Envoy on the day before the beginning of the sixth round. Furthermore, both sides finally agreed to discuss the constitutional texts and to start the drafting process for the constitutional reforms.

Arguably the Syrian regime has agreed to attend the sixth round due to the Russian influence and pressure despite the fact that Assad’s regime continues to postpone any real progress in the work of the SCC. Such a position has been more obvious after Assad’s meeting with Russian President Putin in the middle of September. However, both delegations have presented their constitutional draft regarding the constitutional text, like the regime’s representatives presented the principle of the “sovereignty, terrorism, independence and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic”. Whereas, the opposition’s side has been focused on the principle of the army, armed forces, security, and intelligence. Added to that, the representatives of the civil society organisation have presented the principle of the rule of law during the meetings days in Geneva.

The UN Special Envoy Geir Pedersen believes that the Syrian conflict cannot be ended only through the Constitutional Committee, it will need a long-term process of implementation of the UN Resolution 2254, and the four baskets of the transitional political process. The outcomes of this round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee has been similar to the five previous rounds of negotiations.

During the first two days of the meetings, the regime’s draft has ensured the same position that blocking any further discussion or making any real changes in the constitutional texts and again trying to return back to the first square. For example, in the draft text of the Syrian regime’s article, it says: “The Syrian Arab Republic is a part of the Arab world, proud of its Arab identity”.

That means the regime continues its policies of power sharing and the Arabisation process as usual and denies the nature of the Syrian components as a country with multi-ethnic and cultural. As a result, according to the regime’s constitutional texts, all nations or ethnicities and cultures who live in Syria are Arab including Kurds, Syriac, and other minorities. Moreover, the three guarantors of Astana peace talks for Syria, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, who were behind the constitutional committee meetings, in reality, at the same time still considers as the conflicting parties on the ground in Syria, and they have used the Syrian parties in favour of their political interests and agendas. Consequently, the outcomes of this round of the SCC cannot contribute to any notable changes in the political situation in Syria and on the ground as well.

by: Zara Saleh

Zara Saleh