Friday, November 15, 2019


DAMASCUS, Perhaps the major two points of Syria's future political solution are the withdrawal of foreign forces from Syria and the making of a new constitution, or enhancing the current one.

Both have been pointed out in the recent meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Sochi on May 17, almost four months after their last meeting in the Black Sea resort city.

Unlike previous meetings, where both sides had discussed the war on terror and ways to deal with challenges on the ground, both leaders this time seemed ready for the practical steps of the political solution.

Assad said his meeting with Putin is an "opportunity to put forward a mutual vision for the next stage for the peace talks either in Astana or Sochi."

For his side, Putin has congratulated Assad on the "big achievements" made by the Syrian army in the war against terrorism, noting that the military successes have created suitable conditions for the resumption of the political process.

Putin said the mutual goal is the rebuilding of the Syrian economy and providing humanitarian help, noting that his administration is in contact with all concerned sides for the political "complicated process," including the UN.

Putin has said that with the notable military achievements in Syria and the activation of the political process, "all foreign forces must withdraw from Syria."

For his side, Assad said that many positive changes have taken place as the terrorists' arena in Syria has become much smaller and hundreds of thousands of Syrians have returned to their homes and millions of others are on their way back.

"This stability is a wide door opened for the political process," Assad said, agreeing to send a list of his government's nominees to the United Nations for the membership of the constitutional committee, which was agreed upon in the last Sochi talks on Syria earlier this year. This committee is expected discuss amendments to the current constitution, at least for now.

So what both leaders have basically emphasized is that time has become ripe for implementing practical steps on the political path now that the situation is much better on ground in terms of the massive defeat the rebels have suffered as well as the terror-designated Daesh terror group.

After this declaration, most of the focus was shifted to the formation of the constitutional committee, which should include representatives from the government and the opposition to look into the constitution and propose new amendments or possibly come up with a new one.

This point was actually of a problematic nature as the government wasn't so confident in this step, especially when the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was said to have been mulling a list from the opposition, which didn't attend the previous Sochi talks.

The government expressed its dismay and disapproval as the constitutional committee was supposed to be formed from the government and opposition figures who had actually attended the Sochi talks, not others who boycotted it.

Still, the Assad remarks about sending the list of nominees means that he and Putin are on the same page regarding this particular matter.

Anas Joudeh, the founder of the Nation Building Movement, said that launching the topic of the constitutional committee as long as the national dialogue and elections are the basics of the political process.

He said that it's important now to positively deal with the committee and to consider the discussion within it as part of the national dialogue, not a wrestling arena to score more points.

For his side, Ayham Mahmoud, a Syrian journalist and writer, told Xinhua that the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Syria is as important or even more than the constitutional committee point.

He cited the recent decision of the Donald Trump administration to stop assistance in northwestern Syria, which is said to be freezing 200 million U.S. dollars in funds earmarked for efforts to strengthen and stabilize the local society.

Mahmoud said the U.S. is showing that it doesn't want to stay in Syria, as previously stated by the U.S. administration.

He noted that the withdrawal of foreign forces would mean that the war in Syria is coming to an end, noting however that if such withdrawal didn't take place, the situation would go toward further escalation.

Mahmoud said that the Daesh should be completely defeated in Syria so that the United States won't have a pretext to stay, noting that Daesh should be cleaned first from a pocket in the countryside of the Deir al-Zour province.

But the fact is that when talking about foreign forces in Syria it actually means all of them, including those who are fighting alongside the Syrian government.

Mahmoud said that the United States won't withdraw unless they have received guarantees that the Iranians are withdrawing as well, as the withdrawal of Iran from Syria is something that the United States wants to see.

As for the Russians, they have decreased the number of their forces in Syria and when such a withdrawal for foreign forces takes place, they are believed to remain in two bases they have in Syria, namely the air base in Hmeimim in the countryside of Latakia city and the naval base in Tartus city.

Mahmoud said that it could be a bit early to talk about an imminent withdrawal of the foreign forces, but bringing this up by Putin surely sends clear messages to the United States and Turkey, which also has forces in northern Syria.

He noted that both the withdrawal of forces and the constitution issue complement each other and are crucial on the path of political solution in Syria.

Source: Nam News Network