Constitutional talks for Syria (January 25)

No support without civil society participation (Press Release)

On the occasion of the fifth round of the constitutional talks for Syria, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow (Monday) in Geneva, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) appealed to the German government to withdraw its support for the format. The human rights organization emphasized that political coverage and funding would have to depend on whether representatives of the Syrian civil society and ethnic as well as religious minorities are involved. According to Dr. Kamal Sido, the STP's Middle East expert, the constitutional committee should negotiate a Syrian constitution for the post-Assad regime and ensure that democracy, human rights, minority rights, and women's rights are guaranteed in the future Syria. However, the current constitutional committee consists mainly of Syrian regime men and Islamist groups controlled by Turkey. Apart from that, the committee is completely under the control of Turkey and Russia, which have no interest in implementing the original goals of UN Resolution 2254 from 2015.

"For Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian militias, Assad is not the enemy: they are trying to harm the Kurdish ethnic group and other minorities in the country. In order to do so, they are even willing to cooperate with the so-called 'Islamic State' and the various militias linked to Al-Qaeda," Sido said. "Turkish nationalists and radical Islamists consider the minorities of the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, Alevis, and the Druze as their main enemies."

Further, Sido criticized that Russia, Iran, and Turkey have long since succeeded in controlling important parts of the peace process through the Astana format. Time and time again, representatives of the Syrian civil society were removed from this and other committees. Most recently, a Syrian Kurdish activist from the Syrian Kurdish region of Kobane was expelled from the Constitutional Committee. "It would be necessary to reconstitute the Constitutional Committee for Syria. Syrian women and representatives of the Kurdish population and other minorities should be fairly involved in the committee. In particular, groups that have actively fought against IS and other radicals in recent years expect to have a say. In any case, the UN should decide who sits on this committee – not Turkey or Russia," Sido demanded.

The Russian-dominated Astana format is also under the influence of Turkey and Iran. However, Resolution 2254, which was unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council in December 2015, calls for political reform, fair elections, a reform of the security sector, and joint initiatives to fight terrorism.