Wednesday, November 11, 2015: Russia has proposed a document to the delegates of the Syria peace talks being held in Vienna that calls for a draft of a constitution for Syria in the next 18 months. A private media agency got hold of the document that was confidentially presented to the members of the peace talks.
The document proposes a commission to be formed that will ensure the swift formulation of the first draft of the constitution in the next year and a half. The chairperson of the commission has to be voted with the consensus of the members of the commission, the document says.
“It’s our vision, it’s our proposal,” said Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Vladimir Safronkov. “And of course we are receptive for proposals from the other side. It’s just Russian contribution, how we launch a political process to make parties work together, government and opposition.”
Russia has been a close ally of the current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the peace talk proposal does not mention him stepping down as the Head of the State, a crucial point that has been at the core of the conflict between the governing party in Syria and the opposition. The US and its allies have been demanding that al-Assad should step down from his position but Russia and Iran have opposed this proposal.
Russia launched air strikes against the rebellion forces with the likes of Islamic State of Levant but the US claims that these strikes have only targeted opposing forces and some civilians as well. This act showed that Russia is a strong ally of President al-Asad.
The UN initiated Syria Peace Talks in September and the third round took place on Saturday, November 7. The UN has also invited Iran, Iraq’s neighboring country, to participate in the talks. The Russian proposal was not discussed at the meeting, according to British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft. However, everyone appreciated the level of concern Russia has shown in the peace process.
The Russian proposal does not mention stepping down of the current Syrian president but it does propose creation of a commission that should be responsible for the draft of the constitution which should not be headed by al-Assad. The proposal also calls for the chairperson to be unanimously elected by the members of the commission. The proposal also dictates that the commission should consist of members from governing and opposing parties to make sure of a “secular and democratic character of the state.”
It also proposes to the UN Security Council to agree to include the ISIL in the list of terrorist organizations. “When considering the issue of a cease-fire in Syria, operations against ISIL and other terrorist groups must be excluded,” the document says.
The escalating conflict in Syria and neighboring Iraq, where the Islamic State has occupied most of the region, has triggered an exodus of more than 4 million people to other neighboring countries and Europe. The radical Islamic group has claimed killings of more than 250,000 people in Syria and Iraq.