The regime purports to cooperate in the talks while substantively manipulating them; this leaves the opposition attempting to cooperate within key parameters. On October 18, 2021, the sixth round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee talks began, after the regime cynically postponed them for more than nine months. The session will focus on “the armed forces, security and intelligence agencies, the rule of law, state sovereignty, and terrorism.”
Russia has pressured the Syrian regime to engage in a new round of constitutional committee discussions, in order to provide further assurances about its continued ability to influence the political process. This involvement coincides with the regime’s efforts to complete the normalization of Arab and international relations.
Despite moving to a discussion of the constitution’s contents, which seemed to be a step forward, no major breakthroughs are expected in the constitutional drafting process. There are no indications that the Syrian regime will abandon its policy of wasting time unless the constitutional reform process is guaranteed to be limited to constitutional amendments.
In this session, the Syrian regime implemented its time-wasting strategy, which it has used in all previous sessions. The regime undermines the meeting by raising certain issues that it knows the other parties cannot accept. The regime took advantage of Wednesday’s bus bombing in Damascus and intensively pursued this time-wasting tactic. Since 2017, Russia has begun imposing its vision on the course of the political process, taking advantage of the opposition’s declining influence and power. Russia has used that advantage in favor of the Syrian regime by facilitating a constitutional discussion on governance and political transition that the Syrian opposition had previously followed.
Russia is also working to reduce the constitutional reform process to a mere amendment to the 2012 constitution. These limited changes would lead to the formation of a national unity government, while the initial perceptions of the process contemplated drafting a new constitution, which would pave the way for discussing the rest of the issues in accordance with UN Resolution 2254 of 2015.
Remarks by the Observer: Mohamad Sarmini is the President and founder of the Jusoor Center for Studies. He served as a former advisor to the President of the Syrian Interim Government.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.