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Sunday, 26 June 2022
What would be expected from the fourth round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee?
zara saleh

The fourth round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee has been announced to be held on November 30, a day after the Russian special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev has visited Ankara last Friday, where he met Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal. Whereas, the United Nations special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen had failed to set a date for the fourth round despite his meetings and discussions with Walid al-Muallem the Syrian Foreign Minister and the head of the Syrian opposition.

In fact, Russia and Turkey have reached an agreement for the fourth and fifth rounds on behalf of the Syrian government and opposition delegations. Following their agreement in the Nagorno-Karabakh case, Russia and Turkey were announced the start of the Syrian talks as both states are partners as well as competitors across many conflict places such as Libya, Syria, the Southern Caucasus, and the Black Sea.

Arguably, the fourth round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee talks that will be hold on November 30 expected to be ended without an agreement between all parties to be reached in terms of political process in Syria. In the previous three rounds of negotiations, both delegations didn't have any progress and even they couldn't reach an agreement about the basic schedule for the meeting, due to different political agendas. While the Syrian regime's delegation or the "National Delegation" insisted the discussions should be on the "national principles", the opposition's demand was to discuss the "introduction of the constitution".

The Syrian regime's delegation, therefore, in this fourth round of negotiations might continue the tactics of manipulation as it will ask for the talks to tackle again the "national principles" without setting a deadline for it. Moreover, the government delegation's understanding of the "national principles" is that the opposition's delegation must give a clear political opinion regarding the concept of terrorism, foreign intervention and occupation, and Syria’s unity and sovereignty. In other words, the discussion on the "national principles" perhaps will carry on with no limited time. However, the Syrian opposition delegation, definitely, will not agree with that regime's idea and demand due to Turkey's views and its relations with it. In addition, most of the Syrian opposition didn't consider Turkey as an occupier and they get military support from it as well.

Besides that, Turkey still threatening to occupy more Syrian territories as has happened before. With the support of the opposition militias groups, Turkey has occupied part of northern Syria and the Kurdish-controlled areas of Afrin, Tel Abyad, and Ras Al-Ayn, and Ankara and Assad's regime were behind the exclusion of the Kurds from the Syrian talks.   

On the other hand, as they will not accept the government's idea, the Syrian opposition believes that the regime's demand for the priority on the discussion of the "national principles" is a plan of pushing the opposition to be responsible for the fail of negotiations. Therefore, the opposition's delegation is trying to resort to the United Nations 2254 resolution that might specify a deadline for work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee. However, Moscow and Damascus' plan are that the Syrian presidential election in 2021 to be separated from the Constitutional Committee negotiations.

Consequently, the Syrian Constitutional Committee in the next fourth round is far from achieving the expected political progress without an agreement between the main international players such as America and Russia with the other regional factors and participation of all Syrian components in the political solution as well.

Zara Saleh