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Did Guterres announce good news for Syrians?

Oct 01,2019 - Last updated at Oct 01,2019

Finally, the Syrian Constitutional Committee has been officially formed. This committee, which was formed with great difficulty, was composed of 150 people who were distributed equally between representatives of the regime, representatives of the opposition and representatives of civil society. 

These are deceptive figures. In fact, the balance is absent from the composition of the committee. The 50 members representing civil society who were appointed by the Special Envoy for Syria are, in fact, divided into three groups: A pro-regime group with 15 members; a pro-opposition group with 15 members, and the remaining 20 members can be considered fairly independent. 

The regime has a total of 65 votes, and the opposition of all spectrums has 65 votes. Any decision must be approved by 75 per cent of the commission’s members. This means that any party needs 113 votes to pass any decision related to the new constitution, this is a number that no party has. The members of the committee have no choice but to agree on certain resolutions. 

The only party that has influence over the decision of its representatives is the regime, while the 50 members representing the opposition are, in fact, representing multiple streams with different programmes, inconsistent agendas, and conflicting international and regional references.

In any case, there are areas in which the regime and the opposition can agree, especially on the issue of state centrality, where both regime representatives and Sunni Arab opposition representatives are expected to agree that Syria will be a central state. This is contrary to what the Kurdish side wants, which is a federal or at least a decentralised state. 

Otherwise, there are no positive signs on the horizon about the ability of the members of the committee to agree on the rest of the files, in particular the constitutional principles and constitutional guarantees, as well as the powers of the president. 

There are also doubts about the ability of the United Nations to play an influential role in bridging views, especially with the expected attempts by countries such as Turkey, Russia and the United States to influence the work of the commission.

It is true that the committee has been formed, but many issues remain unclear, which adds a sense of pessimism about the possibility that the outcomes of this committee are the solutions to the complex problems in Syria. 

Even those who welcomed the formation of the commission did so cautiously, while many expressed concern and pessimism, so it makes sense to ask: Did UN Secretary General António Guterres really give the Syrians happy news, or is this committee another step in the way of Syrian suffering?

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