Syria needs a binding and sovereign constitution

Russia has been a key ally of the Bashar Al Assad regime but it neither has the means nor any interest in rebuilding Syria.

By Christiane Waked

Published: Tue 19 Mar 2019, 8:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Mar 2019, 10:27 PM

Syria is at a crucial juncture. After eight years of conflict, there is political willingness to initiate the process of writing a new constitution for the country. However, this can only begin with the exit of Iranian forces from Syria.
For years, Iran has been the single most disrupter in the country and region as a whole. International players who are keen to see stability in Syria understand this point well. Both Russia and the US are determined to keep the discussions and negotiations on, and it should eventually lead to the exit of Iranian soldiers from the Syrian soil. Hezbollah, the Lebanese ally of Iran, has already exited from the scene.
Russia has been a key ally of the Bashar Al Assad regime but it neither has the means nor any interest in rebuilding Syria. Hence, the responsibility for reconstruction, estimated at around $250 billion by Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special Envoy for Syria - but pegged at around $500 billion by Syrian officials - lies in the hands of other countries especially those from the Gulf.
The UAE has already been showing interest and willingness to help the Syrian people rebuild their country. Abu Dhabi has approved flight operations of the Syrian Arab Airlines, and from March 26 the airline will restart flights from Abu Dhabi to Latakia.
Now as soon as the Constitution is ratified, the proposals of construction companies will be put on market to debate.
The Syrian Constitution had been hijacked for over 50 years by the Baathist regime which placed all its followers above the law. The only way now for the Syrian people is to trust the new Constitution, that is if it guarantees that no one, not even the president, will be placed above the law. The president who will be elected under UN supervision will have his powers reduced drastically in order to prevent any stranglehold over the country, thus preventing the recurrence of past mistakes. Which means that in the case of re-election of Bashar Al Assad, neither himself nor his regime will have monopoly of power as before.
The next step should be the integration of Syria into the Arab League which is the natural order of things, meaning it would place this Arab Muslim country under Arab wings. On the other hand, Arab countries should have their say on Turkey - an ally of the Muslim brotherhood and financial supporter of other extremist factions. In fact, Turkey must be completely removed from the reconstruction process as it has been illegally intervening in northern Syria.
The reconstruction of Syria will help create job opportunities encouraging the over 5.6 million Syrian refugees to return to their homeland. Syria needs its citizens in its country. Nevertheless, the danger is not completely removed. The shadow of Daesh will remain for a long time to come in Syria, at least in the minds of its young people who will see any unfair treatment or injustice as a reminder to Syria's dark days.
Christiane Waked is a political analyst in Beirut

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