Syria’s New Draft Constitution As Presented at Astana Peace Talks
Source: Inside Syria Media Center
January 30, 2017
Conclusion by Kennedy Applebaum
January 31, 2017
Inside Syria Media Center has published the new draft constitution for Syria in English. This draft was presented by Russian diplomats to the Syrian opposition’s delegation during the recent peace talks in Astana. The draft consists of proposals which are covered by Arab Mass Media.
The preliminary version of the suggested constitution promotes the Kurdish Cultural Autonomy. It would also set limits on presidential terms, and would decentralize Syrian state authority.
Pages 2 – 10 of the English version of Syria’s new draft constitution are presented below, with a link provided to the remainder of the text.
A concluding commentary by Quemado Insitute’s Kennedy Applebaum, evaluating the risks and hopes regarding Russia’s role in Syrian constitutional reform, follows the text of the constitution.
The full text of pages 11 – 34 are available at Inside Syria Media Center.
Quemado Institute Commentary: Will Syrian Peace Last?
By Kennedy Applebaum
A number of observers both inside and outside Syria are optimistic about the Astana Peace Talks and the provisions of the new constitution as proposed by Russia. It is commendable that the constitution enhances the rights of the Kurdish people. Indeed, I have long wondered why the United Nations cannot establish a Kurdish Republic combining territories from Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq. It is my recollection that Saddam Hussein was reluctant to grant the Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy because he feared this would spark rebellions and civil wars in neighboring Turkey, Iran and Syria. The Kurdish problem is transnational, and therefore unsolvable within any one country. If however all four nations simultaneously granted sovereignty to a Kurdish Republic, this would have forestalled rebellion or civil war.
My suggestion would not have been to arm Kurdish rebels, nor to overthrow Assad. A violent approach invariably leads to chaos, tyranny, war crimes and terrorism. I would instead have advocated placing firm political and economic pressure on Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey to relinquish their hold on the Kurdish homeland, through an effort coordinated by the UN. This unfortunately did not happen.
In this regard, the new Syrian constitution offers hope for the Kurds in the region. But it does not solve the longterm multinational Kurdish problem. Nor does it pretend to. Some observers, however, are skeptical about the new proposed constitution, as there seem to be moral contradictions. For example, Chapter 1, Aricle 1, Section 1 says: “The Syrian Republic is an independent sovereign state, based on the principle of the rule of the people by the people and for the people …” Yet if sovereignty is the guiding rule, why did Moscow write the constitution? This defies the provision of independence. There are Syrians who object to it on this very basis, saying, correctly, that Syrians alone should write their constitution.
Moreover, Syria watchers such as Vladimir Suchan, whom I would characterize as a pro-Russian anti-Western political skeptic, call this proposed constitution a move toward colonialization by the Kremlin. (See Suchan’s article entitled, Putin and the Kremlin presented and tried to impose on Syria in Astana, Kazakhastan, hold on … a new Syrian Constitution which would change Syria’s constitutional order and even Syria’s official name. Mind you, since 1991, Russia has been a defeated colony and now, for the sake of Russia’s own masters and handlers, is trying hard to fix new colonialism for Syria as well, at his website Logos Politicos.)
With this in mind, it is unwise to have starry-eyed faith in Kremlin-brokered peace accords. Witness for example the Minsk Agreements, which Moscow is forcing on the people of Donbass. These agreements destroy the sovereignty of the ancestral Russians of Donetsk and Lugansk and end the dream of an independent Novorossiya. What is worse, Russian implementation of these agreements has, according to some pro-Novorossiya witnesses, entailed strong-arm politics and even assassinations, possibly including Bolotov, Mozgovoy, Ishchenko, Bednov, and Dremov.
That said, the issue of the deaths of innocent civilians must take precedence first and foremost, despite any political sacrifice. The Minsk Agreements saved thousands of lives, and so might the Syrian talks in Astana. Civilian deaths vs. political compromise should not be viewed a trade-off, as no comparative value can be placed on innocent human life. In this regard, the new Syrian constitution is a hopeful step toward peace.
Will peace be lasting? Or will Moscow have to continue enforcing its own created Syrian peace settlement?
Peace would be more lasting had the constitution arisen out of the efforts of Syrian citizens.
Addendum: Who are the Kurds?
Kurdistan is a territory in the south of the Caucuses in the mountainous regions that primarily intersect Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The Kurdish people have been fighting for independence for over a millennium, but their current efforts can reflect the most recent century of their history; fervently fighting neighboring entities for their chance at independence – but non of their efforts have proven successful.
The current population of the Kurdish people stands between 10 and 15 million. The group’s massive population and long-standing yet fruitless fight for statehood has led the region to be known as the“Invisible Nation”. They are a group of non-Arab people who speak a language related to Persian and are predominantly Sunni Muslim.