The Assad regime has pulled out of the UN-brokered talks on Syria’s constitution, with the ninth round scheduled to open in Geneva on July 25. The regime used the pretext that Switzerland is no longer neutral because it supported European Union sanctions against Russia over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. A UN spokesperson responded: “We do reaffirm the neutrality of Switzerland as a venue…. Discussions on Syria need to be kept as much as possible separate and apart from discussions on other topics.” Simultaneously, Syria formally broke diplomatic ties with Ukraine, in response to Kyiv breaking ties with Damascus over the Assad regime’s recognition of the “independence and sovereignty” of the Russia-backed breakaway enclaves of Luhansk and Donetsk.
A conference at Sochi, Russia, in January 2018 agreed on a 150-member committee to approve a new Syrian constitution. A 45-member panel was to carry out the drafting, with equal representation from the regime, the opposition, and civil society. But the committee was not seated until September 2019. Since then, the regime has bottlenecked any substantial discussions, saying that “sovereignty” and the fight against “terrorists” (its label for any armed opposition groups) must be paramount. Eight rounds of talks have not been able to overcome the regime’s posture to agree on an agenda. (EA Worldview, AP)
Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti/UNICEF via UN News