DAMASCUS, Syria, The Syrian draft constitution put forward by Russia is seen by many analysts as a reminder of the Paul Bremer constitution for Iraq following the 2003 invasion by the United States.

Russia circulated a draft resolution to the Syrian delegations, who were attending the Russia-Turkey sponsored negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan, last week.

The draft constitution wasn’t made public during the negotiations, but Russian media outlets leaked parts of it.

Russia Today (RT) said, the draft constitution highlights territorial integrity, separation of political powers, as well as, respect for minority’s rights and international treaties.

It said, the constitution envisions that the word “Arab” be omitted from the country’s official title, in an apparent way to ease the fears of the Kurdish minority in Syria.

Speaking of the Kurds, the proposed constitution says that, “state bodies and organisations of the Kurdish cultural autonomy are using Kurdish and Arabic languages equally” and that the status of the Kurdish autonomy “is defined by law.”

As for the president’s full executives, the draft constitution indicates that the executive branch of power in the country is represented by the president and his government.

The president is elected by a public vote and can serve a maximum of two terms with seven years each, said RT, adding that, the People’s Assembly serves as a parliament, passing laws, which later should be forwarded for approval to the Assembly of Territories, and then to the president.

It says, the country’s leader can be stripped of his powers by the Assembly of Territories in case the People’s Assembly formally accuses the leader of committing “treason” or any other “severe crime.”

The highest part of the Judiciary is the Constitutional Court, which among others oversees the legality of laws, decrees and other forms of legislation. The proposed Russian draft, notes that, all judges are “independent.”

In short, the proposed constitution gives more executive power to parliament and secures a Kurdish autonomy.

When asked in Astana by Kurdish reporters, about the Kurdish autonomy in Syria, the head of the Syrian delegation, Bashar Jaafary, said, the subject is rejected, as establishing an autonomy cannot be the choice of the group, which wants to have the autonomy, but all Syrians.

Russia defended its draft resolution as based on what it heard from the Syrian government, and the opposition and from the countries of the region, over the past few years.

Lavrov said, during a recent meeting with representatives of the Syrian opposition that, the document sums up constitutional proposals of both the Syrian government and opposition groups.

He stressed that Russia is imposing its draft on no one and the talk is about the proposals called upon to stimulate a discussion on this issue in Syrian talks in Geneva next month.

Still, Syrians, mainly opposition, and Arab observers didn’t spare the new move the criticism.

The main criticism is having a foreign country writing a constitution for Syria and removing the word “Arab” from the title of the country Syrian Arab Republic, among others.

Faisal Qassem, a Qatar-based Syrian journalist opposing the Syrian government, said in a recent post on Twitter that, the new draft constitution is similar to the constitution put forward in Iraq by Paul Bremer, the leader of the U.S. occupation authority of Iraq, during the 2003 U.S. invasion of the country.

He said, both constitutions aimed at “abolishing the Arab identity in the region.”

Abdul-Bari Atwan, a London-based Palestinian journalist, said in a recent report that, the “Russians are repeating the experience of Paul Bremer in Iraq, which sown sectarian seeds in the country and divided it into regions in the form of federalisation, and paved the way for a self rule to the Kurds that constituted the bases of independence (for the Kurds) and later a (possible) separation.”

He added that, choosing the Astana talks to circulate the draft resolution in the Arabic language to the Syrian delegations, indicates that Russia was serious in putting it forth, as it will be the spine of the settlement and the feature of the “new Syria” and its political system.

Atwan said, the draft could receive some changes, noting that such amendments would be “marginal.”

For his part, Yahia al-Aridi, a Turkey-based Syrian opposition figure and the spokesman of the opposition delegation to Astana, said in a recent interview that, maybe Russia was aiming at activating the political atmosphere by presenting this draft resolution, “but for us, any country, no matter how big…, when it put a constitution, it’s the perfect recipe for sabotaging our country.”

“We are witnessing what’s happening in Iraq today,” he said.

While the opposition made a clear stance towards the proposed constitution, the Syrian government made no comments on the draft presented by its powerful ally, Russia.

Still, some pro-government analysts made some remarks about the draft, largely related to the pride of not having another country proposing a constitution for Syria.

Bassam Abu Abdallah, an international law professor at the Damascus University, said, he cannot speak on behalf of the government, but said he personally, as a Syrian citizen, thinks that “it’s not the right of any country, even if it’s an ally, to write a draft constitution for the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Still, Abdallah cited the Russian remarks that the draft constitution comes in the framework of “ideas for negotiations.”

He said that the constitution should be discussed among the Syrians, adding that, all Syrians reject to have their constitution written by another country.

Isam Takruri, a law professor at Damascus university, said, he thinks the Russian Foreign Ministry wasn’t right about the terms, “they should have used suggestion, instead of a draft constitution because the suggestion could be proposed by different parties, or countries, but the draft constitution can only be written inside Syria by constituent authority.”

“The draft constitution is a sovereign matter, where people in Syria elect a constituent authority and its tasked by the people, to put forth a draft constitution and afterwards, this draft resolution would be put for national referendum,” he said.


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DAMASCUS, Syria, The Syrian draft constitution put forward by Russia is seen by many analysts as a reminder of the Paul Bremer constitution for Iraq following the 2003 invasion by the United States.Russia circulated a draft resolution to the Syrian delegations, who were attending the Russia-Turkey sponsored negotiations...