UN to host meeting on new Syrian constitution next month

UN to host meeting on new Syrian constitution next month
The UN peace envoy for Syria will host senior officials from a range of Western and Middle-Eastern countries next month for talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution.
3 min read
28 August, 2018
Mistura will host a number of Western and Middle Eastern nations [Getty]

Senior officials from a range of Western and Middle-Eastern countries will be hosted by the UN peace envoy for Syria next month for talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution, the UN said on Tuesday.

Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has been tasked with setting up a committee to write a new constitution for the war-ravaged country. 

He is already set to host a meeting on September 11-12 at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva of senior officials from the main foreign powers backing the project, Syrian regime allies Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey, which supports some opposition groups.

On Tuesday, UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said de Mistura had convened a one-day meeting on September 14 with senior representatives from Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The meeting, Vellucci said, was to focus on "the way ahead on the political process" for Syria, "including the UN effort to facilitate the establishment of a constitutional committee". 

De Mistura has said he wants to have the constitutional committee in place before world leaders meet at the General Assembly in New York in late September. 

De Mistura's previous efforts to negotiate an end to the Syrian conflict have achieved no breakthroughs. 

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Eight rounds of talks under UN auspices in Geneva have made little headway, with Bashar al-Assad's regime taking little interest.

Iran, Turkey and Russia have been working together despite playing dominating roles on opposing sides of the civil war.

Moscow and Tehran support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as Ankara calls for his ouster and has given aid to Syrian rebels.

Iran and Russia's intervention in Syria are widely seen as having tipped the balance of the seven-year war in the regime's favour.

Idlib is expected to be a major item on the agenda, with Assad setting his sights on capturing the last rebel-held stronghold.

The regime says it is determined to retake the northwestern province on the Turkish border, amid speculation of a looming Russian-backed assault.

Turkey has warned that a military operation to take Idlib would provoke a "humanitarian catastrophe" with 3.5 million people crammed into the region.

Similar remarks were made by French President Emmanuel Macron who warned that Assad was on the verge of creating a fresh humanitarian crisis in Idlib.

Macron also said that a return to normal life in Syria that left Assad in power would be a "grotesque error", in comments seemingly directed at his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

"We can see those who would like to return to normal as soon as the war against Daesh (the Islamic State group) is finished: Bashar al-Assad would stay in power, the refugees... will return and Europe and few others would help with reconstruction," Macron said.

But "such a scenario would be a grotesque error", he added.

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