The draft Constitution did not suit the Syrian opposition

At the end of last week, the Syrian political opposition received developed by Russian experts, the draft Constitution of Syria.

It happened during a meeting with the Minister of foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov. It was attended by representatives of almost all opposition platforms, with the exception of the Higher Committee on negotiations (CPSU) and the National coalition for Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces (SNC).

found out from the participants in the talks in Moscow, how they evaluate the Russian-proposed constitutional reform.

The President without religion

The Russian version of the Constitution was prepared by experts in Oriental studies, said a source familiar with the process of creating the document. First of all, they proposed to remove from the name of the country the word “Arab” and call it the Syrian Republic.

It is also proposed to remove the existing rule that the President must be a Muslim. “This rule contradicts another provision of the Constitution that speaks of equality before the law. It turns out that the non-Muslim part of the population does not have the right to nominate his candidacy,” — said Qadri Jamil, the leader of the Syrian opposition party “popular front for change and liberation.” His party was opposed to the Constitution stipulates the religion of the head of state, back in 2012 when we adopted the current Constitution of Syria, said Jamil.

He also reminds that Syria is called the Syrian Republic until 1958. “I think it (the abbreviation for the. —) not really a question of principle. You need to study the balance of forces and mood: will it help to resolve the crisis or, conversely, exacerbate the situation?” — said Jamil.

The current Syrian political system based on the concept of BA’athism (from the abbreviated name of the Party of Arab socialist revival “Baas”, a political platform which is a synthesis of Arab socialism, pan-Arabism and anti-imperialism), so the deletion of the word “Arab” from the name means the rejection of the ideological foundations and political tradition, explains researcher of the Institute of Oriental studies, Vasily Kuznetsov.

Kuznetsov also drew attention to the fact that the word “Islam” is not mentioned in the Russian project. “Some Islamic political forces will argue. Further — a question of law, how it should be worded not to infringe on the rights of non-Muslims,” — said Kuznetsov.

What the draft Constitution of the Russia proposed Syria

The representative of the Kurdish party “Democratic Union” Khalid Issa recalls that Syria is a multiethnic and multi-religious country, therefore, it is unacceptable that power was concentrated in the hands of representatives of one nation or the dominant religion. Adopted in 2012, the Constitution was removed previously existing norm of the dominant role of the Baath party in political life.

Kurdish autonomy

In the Russian project assumes the inclusion in the Constitution of cultural autonomy of the Kurds. The “state bodies and organizations of the Kurdish cultural autonomy are Arabic and Kurdish language as an equivalent,” reads the draft document.

A representative of the so-called Cairo group of the Syrian opposition Jamal Suleiman believes that Syria needs a local government in the form of an administrative autonomy, which will be subordinated to the Central authorities and will have an independent political and military power.

Issa said that during the meeting with Lavrov, the representatives of the Democratic Federation (proclaimed a Kurdish territorial entity in Northern Syria) introduced a draft of the Constitution, which involves the federalization of Syria. According to him, the development of the project were studied and taken into account the positive aspects of all previous versions of the constitutions of Syria, starting with the monarchical Constitution of 1920, which was enshrined in the Federal structure.

The establishment of a Kurdish cultural autonomy is not enough, although it is a step forward, I’m sure Issa. “In Syria except the Kurds home to a huge number of other peoples whose rights were not fixed,” he explains.

Issa supports the need to create new legislative body — Assembly areas. According to the Russian project, the Assembly of the regions is a body in which work representatives of administrative units. Its creation will provide a broader and more meaningful participation of representatives of various strata and groups of the Syrian society in the governance of the state, said Issa.

The emergence of the draft Constitution in General, very positive step, but it needs more work, as it is not sufficiently sensitive to national and religious characteristics of Syrian society and do not fully protect the rights of all its members, says Issa. It also points to gaps in the document: the text States that cultural autonomy, but its status is determined by a separate law. “Many of the items regulated by law, which in practice can be above the Constitution”, — is afraid of Issa.

The basis for the conversation

The participants of the Moscow meeting noted that prescribed in the Russian Constitution draft proposal is a list of ideas for discussion. To write a new basic law have a special Commission, which will draw on the experience of other countries and on previous versions of the Constitution of Syria since 1920, says Qadri Jamil, referring to the resolution of the UN Security Council No. 2254, adopted in 2015.

For the first time in a long time, there is a specific proposal to resolve the Syrian conflict peacefully, says Issa. “Unfortunately, the majority of the opposition members, primarily concerned about how to get rid of the current regime, to take the place of Bashar al-Assad and who will get the transitional government. They have no clear ideas and proposals to reform the existing system at the institutional level,” he laments.

The Syrian authorities are ready to discuss the Russian proposal, announced on January 30, the Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riad Haddad.