UN envoy ‘fails’ to restart Syria constitutional talks amid regime intransigence

UN envoy ‘fails’ to restart Syria constitutional talks amid regime intransigence
Syria’s constitutional talks ground to a halt in June after the regime and Russia demanded that they be moved from the Swiss city of Geneva.
2 min read
04 November, 2022
UN envoy Geir Pedersen (left) met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mikdad on October 17 [Getty]

Syria's constitutional talks have reached a dead end as the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad fails to respond to efforts by the UN’s envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen to restart them.

The UN-sponsored talks, which take place between representatives of the Syrian opposition, the Assad regime, and civil society groups, aim to write a new constitution for Syria but have been stalled for years.

They came to a complete halt in June after the regime and its Russian ally said that the Swiss city of Geneva, where the talks were being held, was not a "neutral" venue, insisting they be moved to a different location.

UN envoy Pedersen has in recent weeks met with US State Department officials, UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield in an effort to get the talks restarted, according to The New Arab’s affiliate Al-Modon.

He has also visited Damascus to talk to Syrian regime Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mikdad on 17 October and Amman to talk to Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Al-Safadi the following week.

In Geneva Pedersen met with the head of the Syrian opposition’s Negotiation Commission, Badr Jamous.

Jamous told Al-Modon that he and Pedersen discussed the restarting of constitutional talks and political negotiations but no progress has been made.

"There are no signs of a resumption of meetings at the current time, because the Syrian regime is continuing to stall and find excuses not to come to Geneva and restart the political process," he said.

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Jamous stressed that the Syrian opposition was ready to return to the negotiating table.

"The problem isn't with the [opposition] negotiations commission or the opposition delegation to the Constitutional Committee. We are ready to restart the constitutional talks at any location, but under the auspices of the United Nations," he told Al-Modon.

"There must be a system to create a constitution not talks for the sake of talks."

Jamous said he had received reassurances from US, EU, and Turkish officials they would not normalise relations with the Assad regime and were committed to UN resolution 2254 which calls for a political solution to the Syrian conflict.

More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced in the Syrian conflict, which began with the brutal suppression of anti-regime protests in 2011.

Most of the casualties have been the result of fierce bombardments of civilian areas by the Assad regime and its allies.

The regime has recently been able to take control of most of Syria with the help of crucial backing from Russia and Iran.