The Formation of the Constitutional Committee! What Comes Next

The Formation of the Constitutional Committee! What Comes Next

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Despite the political transition that millions of Syrians peacefully went out claiming for six months in the year 2011, and despite the tremendous amount of sacrifices and destruction that followed, it has ended up with only a committee that forms a constitution which will be voted for via a referendum and elections will be drawn under it. Nevertheless, currently efforts are gathered to undermine and formalize this process, reproducing the regime with all its institutions and symbols, with one difference only, Syria now has become a marginalized country with an exploited sovereignty, which in terms menaces the future of stability in Syria. Since the continuation of such conditions without proper organized political transition – even in minimal scale is acceptable by most Syrians – will keep the fire burning under the ashes threatening for an upcoming outburst that will affect the neighboring countries and Europe.

Although the course of the constitutional committee may theoretically seem an initiative towards the end of the conflict in Syria and may open a new door towards the future, hence, what is happening, in reality, is another battle that may open the door to the future or keep it sealed for several years ahead. However, there are many thorny questions, which answering them will determine the flow of the process and its outcome, such as; How will this committee function? How will the election and referendum take place afterward? Who will manage and monitor it? And all and all what will the outcome of its operations be like? And all that only if the committee was allowed to accomplish its mission, or even be formed at the first place (regardless of the promising news). Moreover, the Syrian regime and Russia will not consent to the formation of this committee unless they can guarantee the majority of its members from their representatives or those who follow their command, and so far this is looking quite achievable as the committee will be divided into three thirds, the first one to be nominated by the Syrian regime, the second third to be nominated by the negotiation body, whereas the last portion representing all segments of the society and will be nominated by the representative of the United Nation’s Secretary-General for Syria. However, particularly in addition to those directly nominated by the Syrian regime, a portion of the negotiation body, which in terms nominally represented by the “opposition”, having compatible options with the regime, such as Moscow Platform representatives. Also, the committee members who are residing in Syria, from the Cairo Platform either within the share of the negotiation body or the society share, will have to operate in fear or under threats in accordance to the regime’s resolutions, which is for the new constitution to be a copy from the one drawn in 2012. Especially that Moscow adheres to that the operations of the committee, the formation of the constitution, the referendum, and the elections are all pure Syrian operations, and no one nor any party may interfere in this matter, not even the United Nations which its sole duty should be only monitoring. And that actually leads to that the constitutional referendum and the elections should be under the management of the ministry of internal affairs in Syria, which in fact means that the results of these elections will be predetermined, as it always has been for the past half-decade.

On the other hand, the resolution 2254 and the rest of the Security Council and the Assembly of the United Nations resolutions mean that Syria is under the United Nations trusteeship, and the resolution 2254 stated that “Reference to the Geneva Statement, a political transition under the United Nations auspices”, and this means that the constitutional committee will be operational under its auspices as well. Whereas the committee will act as “sovereign Constituent Assembly” which in fact means that it is the master of conduct of its own proceedings and its members, after the initiation of its operations, does not necessarily need to consult neither the regime nor the opposition and will be headquartered in Geneva until finalizing its operations.

The Committee’s operations will be initiated under the United Nations umbrella, with its members being pressure free, and with the possibility to opt for the parliamentary system choice in lieu of the presidential system, which will block the dictatorship road of whichever president to come. Whereas the parliamentary system more democratic, reflects the people’s interest, and hurdles any attempt for dictatorship. Especially that the current circumstances do not leave space for fair presidential competition, mainly because it is not any normal situations and it is impossible for any political power or any communal force to organize a successful campaign nor to coincide to one candidate which will receive enough support and advertisement, which leads to that if the presidential system is the choice, the competition, in that case, will be settled for the existing regime.

Even if the United Nations took over the management of the referendum and the election phases, preparing the correct lists for those eligible for voting may be a very complicated matter, because after all the regime is the source of those lists, and about 13 million Syrians, more than half of the population, have been forcibly displaced from their homes, half of which fled out of the country, and the other half within its borders. On top of that, close to a million people of the population were killed, tens of thousands were lost inside the regime’s prisons, and other tens of thousands politically detained. Moreover, many generations of the Syrian youngsters have reached the age of 18 making them eligible for voting which adds to the complexity of preparing the lists. And the most challenging hurdle is to allocate their locations, especially for those residing outside Syria, whilst the majority of them do not even hold any proper legal documents. 

Therefore, how is it possible to run free and fair elections with the continued control of several forces over the divided regions in Syria, such as the regime (Iran and Russian inclusive) and armed opposition factions in the northern parts of rural Hama, Idlib, rural Aleppo, and North of Latakia. And Turkish forces in both Ghosn Al Zeitoun and Der’ Al Furat, and PYD Kurdish forces in north-east Syria supported by the USA, in addition to the remainder of ISIS forces in the Syria Beddia, whereas under these conditions and domination of forces the electorate will not be free with their word.

How could we guarantee a free and honest referendum or elections that reflect the will of the Syrians without lifting the existing climate of intimidation that forces the people towards an election which will be determined by someone else. Without the release of all detainees from either the regime’s, other armed factions’, or the Kurdish PYD prisons. Without revelation of the missing people, without freedom of gathering and peaceful assembly, or the freedom of establishing political parties or associations, how will tens of thousands of electorates exercise their rights without abolishing the arbitrary provisions that were taken against them, without capping the security services from prosecuting whoever says a word against the existing regime, without repealing the provisions of the court of terrorism or even abolish the court itself with all the confiscation of civil rights’ provisions, travel ban, forfeiture of properties of the regime’s oppositions, without granting travel documents to everyone with no exceptions, nevertheless, how could a referendum or elections be conducted without the right of voluntary repatriation of migrants to their homes without the fear of being detained, prosecuted, and threats of being kidnapped or assassinated.

All these complications indicate that the proper continuation of this process archives a political transition that put an end to the Syrian disaster, it will for sure not be without consensus between the international and regional players in the Syrian scene, Russia, USA, Turkey, Europe. However, this consensus still does not seem to happen any sooner, and chiefly relying on the Russia’s position that currently still looking baffled, thus Russia knows that support for the reconstruction will not commence prior to any proper political transition, and Syria without physical and social reconstruction will be a bitter win, worse than the loss for Russia, even if the regime reclaims control over all the regions Syria. At the same time, Russia knows that the political transition will reach the post of President which in terms threatens with the collapse of the whole system, which is feared by Moscow, Washington, European capitals and many others. Hence, Moscow still has not concluded the proper arrangements for in order to accept a political transition that includes the departure of Assad, especially that the competition with Iran (the Syrian regime is closer to Iran than Russia) which is preventing any sort of political solution in the region. However, despite all these complications, it is possible for all the international and regional player, upon agreement, to make the constitution drafting, the referendum and the elections a “gradual political transition” accepted by majority of Syrians, and help Syria avoid more of this instability in the future, which is, as a matter of fact, their political and moral duty after confiscating the role of the Syrians and their will.

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