On Oct. 19, 2019, the Syrian government reversed a decision it had made to name a highly qualified and renowned law professor, Amal Yazigi, as head of its delegation to the Constitutional Committee, replacing her with Ahmad Nabil Kuzbari, a person who is known for his absolute loyalty to the Assad regime but has many question marks surrounding his career.
Ahmad Nabil al-Kuzbari hails from a well-established Damascene family, from which a large number of politicians and businessmen have emerged, including former Syrian Prime Ministers Mamoun al-Kuzbari and Haidar al-Kuzbari as well as well-known businessman Nabil al-Kuzbari. Born in Damascus in 1971, he studied law at the University of Damascus and then became a member of the Bar Association before continuing his studies in the United Kingdom, according to his bio on the People’s Assembly website, where he received a doctorate in international law. He also got a diploma as an expert in conflict and crisis management from the Arab British Academy of Higher Education in the UK.
The Syrian revolution
When the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011, Kuzbari was appointed as a member of the National Committee for Drafting the Constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic between 2011 and 2012, which promulgated the 2012 Constitution that many Syrians looks at as a version of the 1973 Constitution, but with minor, non-substantive amendments. Within the committee, Kuzbari was considered as an advocate of keeping the powers of the president as they were in the old constitution. In a statement to Al-Mayadeen TV, he said that the drafting committee of the Syrian constitution is tasked with making recommendations and does not have any powers, adding, “if there is any amendment to the constitution, it will take place under the current constitution in accordance with the mechanism provided for in this constitution.”
He was elected to the People’s Assembly in 2012 and 2016 and chaired the Constitutional and Legislative Committee of the People’s Assembly.
Kuzbari participated in the Syrian government delegation negotiating at the Geneva conference between 2014 and 2018. He also participated in the government delegation negotiating the Astana conferences in 2017 and 2018, and participated in the National Dialogue Conference in the Russian city of Sochi, January 2018.
According to his bio, Kuzbari is a member of the International Bar Association in London and the International Bar Association in Paris and the Pacific Bar Association in Tokyo. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Kalamoon, which was founded by the son of the historic chief of staff under both Hafez and Bashar al-Assad.
Ahmed Nabil al-Kuzbari’s character has often come into question. In 2012, some Syrian journalists accused Kuzbari of using the similarity of names between him and the well-known Syrian businessman Nabil al-Kuzbari, who has been living in Vienna for nearly four decades, to suggest that the businessman was his father. The immigrant businessman found himself obliged to clarify this in a statement published in the Syrian press at the time, in which he denied that the newly elected lawyer Ahmed Nabil al-Kuzbari was one of his sons. According to sources close to Mr. Nabil al-Kuzbari, this rumor was circulated before the elections and after the results were released. Information was leaked to local and international media about the lawyer being the businessman’s son.
Despite the official denials at the time, the matter only came to light after the results were published. The leading French newspaper, Le Monde, published a report in which it stated that the son of Mr. Nabil al-Kuzbari, who was already been subjected to US sanctions, was elected to parliament, which prompted calls to impose further sanctions on the businessman. Had this not been corrected, it would have had a devastating effect on the businessman who lives in Vienna and who holds Austrian citizenship. Thus, official and public clarification seems to have been necessary to avoid these claims.
Kuzbari was also accused by the Syrian anti-corruption groups, the Syrian Organization for Anti-corruption, of holding a forged doctorate. The organization said on its website (http://www.cisyria.com/kam/) that lawyer Ahmed Nabil al-Kuzbari claims to have a masters of law from a British university in 2010 and that he holds a doctorate in law from British university from 2012. However, the records of movement registered in his name at the Immigration and Passports Office prove that between 2010 and 2012 (i.e. from the date he declared that he had received his master’s degree and Ph.D.) he only stayed sporadically for a total of four months over all these years. It is impossible to obtain a doctorate degree from Britain’s universities without residing in the country for the during of the study.
Syrian activists noted that the biography of Dr. Kuzbari on his official Facebook page does not specify which universities Kuzbari received his master’s and doctoral degrees from. In addition, the Syrian government does not accept any graduate degree and does not accept its equivalence if there is no residency for the duration of the study in the same country.
The Constitutional Committee
Kazbari was appointed by the regime as the head of the delegation to Constitutional Committee at the last minute, after it had originally decided to appoint Dr. Amal Yazigi to the position. According to Al-Modon, this change was due to “the regime’s desire to appoint a person with absolute loyalty”. The website noted that Yazigi showed genuine enthusiasm for the Constitutional Committee, something the regime did not like.”
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Syrian Observer.