Russia’s Syria Plan May Create Fault Lines 

Russia’s Syria Plan May Create Fault Lines  Russia’s Syria Plan May Create Fault Lines 

Iranian lawmakers are doubtful about a Russian-compiled draft of the new Syrian Constitution, warning it may lay the ground for de facto disintegration of Syria and continued unrest in the Arab country. 

Syria is the scene of the nearly six-year-old struggle of foreign-backed militants to topple the Syrian government, which has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. 

The document was handed to the Syrian opposition delegation participating in the latest Syria peace negotiations, which was held on January 23-24 in Kazakhstan's capital, Astana.

Russian officials said the proposal was aimed at speeding up talks toward ending the conflict. 

The text of the draft was released by the Russian media last week. According to Sputnik, it seeks "cultural autonomy" for ethnic Syrian Kurds and says that the word "Arab" be removed from the official name of the country "Syrian Arab Republic".

The document stipulates that Syria's territory "is united, inviolable and indivisible" and the country's borders can only be changed after a public referendum conducted "among all citizens of Syria".

Lawmaker Alireza Rahimi said protecting territorial integrity of Syria is an uncompromisable principle that Iran has always stressed on, in addition to the fact that only Syrians are entitled to decide Syria's destiny. 

"Under no circumstances, Syria should become subject to 19th-century-style tradeoffs among powers," he told ICANA on Saturday. 

"Although the draft constitution underlines integrity of Syria, but it calls for cultural autonomy for Kurds and other ethnic groups, creating the conditions for Syria's disintegration."

Ahad Azadikhah, another parliamentarian, said giving cultural autonomy to Kurds would cause divisions in the Syrian society, which in turn could lead to fault lines.

He suggested that the Russian plan could be misused by western powers to split Syria. 

"Sowing discords is a strategy adopted by arrogant [western] powers to disintegrate Middle East countries," he said. 

   Time to Promote Democracy  

Legislator Seyyed Razi Nouri said the Syria conflict was designed to be a prelude to fragmentation of the region, but the resistance of Syrian government and its allies has disrupted the plan. 

"After paying a huge cost for the resistance, one should be careful not to be caught in the disintegration trap," he said. 

Nouri said it should be remembered that opponents of the Syrian government took up arms to advance "colonial interests" of other countries.

"In the postwar Syria, consolidation of democracy should be the top agenda. Disruption of this process will lead to new wars," he said.

Iran and Russia, supporters of the Syrian government, and Turkey, a major supplier of arms to militants, organized the Astana talks.

The trio announced at the end of talks that they have agreed on the establishment of a trilateral mechanism to ensure the continuance of the current ceasefire in Syria and monitor possible violations.

Last December, they worked out a deal enabling the evacuation of militants from Aleppo, as the Syrian forces were on the verge of retaking the northwestern city. The deal also paved the way for a nationwide ceasefire that started on December 30 and has been largely holding.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday the draft was based on the input of "the Syrian government, opposition and regional powers".

The Syrian authorities have not made any official statement regarding the document.

The top Russian diplomat said, "It is an invitation for a conversation", an attempt to find common ground between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran, along with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, will discuss issues related to the mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Astana on February 6.

The next round of separate UN-brokered peace talks on Syria in Geneva—scheduled for Feb. 8—has been postponed to Feb. 20.

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