Syrian revolution against Assad regime continues: opposition

The revolution initiated by the Syrian people continues as the conflict in the country marks a decade since it began, the Syrian Constitutional Committee co-chair Hadi al-Bahra from the opposition said Wednesday.

Speaking in an online conference “The Syrian Revolution in its 10th year” organized by the Ankara-based Center for Strategic Studies in the Middle East (ORSAM), al-Bahra said the Syrian people have been fighting against the oppression of the Bashar Assad regime for a decade.

“The revolution was launched with peaceful demonstrations. There were international efforts to push the Syrian regime to implement reforms. The civilian people also demanded that. Turkey and many Arab countries also urged Bashar Assad to make reforms. However, the regime opposed all these proposals,” he said.

Referring to the steps taken by the United Nations in April 2012 for the solution of the Syrian crisis, al-Bahra said the former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan came up with a plan consisting of six articles and made efforts to implement the plan, though it was eventually rejected by the regime.

He added that Annan resigned from his post due to the regime’s dismissal of a strategy developed by the U.N. in June 2012.

Following the failed efforts, the Assad regime continued to commit massacres and war crimes against the Syrian people, al-Bahra underlined and said they met with the regime numerous times in Switzerland but all these meetings failed due to the regime’s uncompromising stance.

Touching upon the international community’s growing indifference to the prolonged Syrian crisis, al-Bahra said more arms and weapons were provided to the regime as time went on.

“Aleppo was taken with a siege in 2016. Following the regime’s seizure of Aleppo, Turkey stepped in. After the international community acted insufficiently for the Syria issue, Turkey came up with the Astana proposal. Russia opposed a regime change. An important step was taken for the establishment of the constitution committee within the Astana process and the Sochi Conference was organized during this process. At the conference, the establishment of this committee was proposed to the U.N. It took a year and a half to establish the committee. Although it did not happen in the way we planned, it was close to the frame we proposed.”

The Astana meeting was initiated by Turkey, Iran and Russia to bring the warring sides in Syria together to find a permanent solution to the 10-year war. The main agenda covers the constitutional system, the political transition, security and resettlement. The first meeting of the Astana process was in Turkey in January 2017 to facilitate U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

Ahmed Tuma, the representative of the military opposition in Syrian guarantors’ meetings, also said at the conference that they joined the cease-fire process to prevent the regime and its backers from attacks targeting civilians and residential areas.

Referring to the Astana process with Turkey, Russia and Iran as the guarantors, accepted by the U.N., Tuma said it provided additional agreements for a more efficient cease-fire.

Turkey’s guarantor status for the cease-fire launched a new period, said Tuma and added: “With the cease-fire, there have been very important developments in recent years. People have had a secure environment. People now can go to their works. The social life in areas where cease-fire holds started to normalize.”

A council resolution adopted in December 2015 unanimously endorsed a strategy for peace in Syria that was approved in Geneva on June 30, 2012, by representatives of the U.N., the Arab League, the European Union, Turkey and all five permanent UNSC members – the U.S., Russia, China, France and Britain. It calls for a Syrian-led political process starting with the establishment of a transitional governing body, followed by the drafting of a new constitution and ending with U.N.-supervised elections.

The resolution says the free and fair elections should meet “the highest international standards” of transparency and accountability, with all Syrians – including members of the diaspora – eligible to participate. At a Russian-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution, which took until September 2019. Previous rounds of talks have not brought any substantial progress. The opposition has been demanding a new constitution, while Assad’s regime proposed that the current charter be amended.