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Federalization could still be in the cards for Syria

The draft constitution Russia is proposing for Syria does leave open the possibility of Syria's federalisation.

A study of the draft constitution Russia is proposing for Syria reveals that federalization might inadvertently be one of the options for its future governance model.

Using the Article-Paragraph system whereby 1-3 refers to Article 1, Paragraph 3, for example, the Russian-written “draft constitution” proposes:

* 4-2 giving the Kurds equal use of their language alongside Arabic within their “cultural autonomy”;

* 4-3 suggesting that it can be used in schools, though not stipulating whether or not this is limited to the “cultural autonomy” zone or nationwide;

* 4-4 creating the pretext for “locally held referendum” to be conducted in potentially expanding this zone and allowing other copy-cat formats;

* 10-5 says that “performing military or militarized activity outside the domain of state power is prohibited”, but the conditional clause is “outside the domain of state power”, so if the PYD reaches an agreement with Damascus, then it could potentially be allowed to “police” the “Kurdish cultural autonomy” as “self-defense forces”;

* 15-3 forcing Syrians to accept “decentralization”;

* 15-4 mandating the establishment of the “Kurdish Cultural Autonomy”;

* 24-3 curiously speaking about “federal law”;

* 45-2 allowing undefined “territorial units” to propose legislation, thus hinting that the “Kuridsh Cultural Autonomy” would have this right;

* 46-2 speaking for the first and only time about a mysterious “Territories Assembly” which appears nowhere else in the text and might be a shell body for facilitating de-facto “federalization” after the Russian-written “draft constitution” is promulgated.

With all of this in mind, it’s very clear that the document allows for the de-facto “federalization” of Syria by bestowing these sorts of related political privileges to the Kurds.

Just because the word “federalization” isn’t used in the document doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be the outcome of passing the “draft constitution”, which is why Syrian experts are presently studying Russia’s set of proposals very closely before formulating an appropriate response.

It’s ultimately up to the Syrians themselves whether or not to accept Russia’s proposed de-facto “federalization” of their country or not, but judging by what the Syrian Ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said immediately following the Astana talks and after having received the Russian-written “draft constitution”, “even [ideas] as crazy as federalism must be put to democratic vote, but it’s completely unacceptable for a group of people to decide to create a statelet and call it federalism.”

The Syrian Ambassador to Russia previously slammed the Kurds’ unilateral decree of “federalization” as a danger which “directly threatens the integrity of our country, runs counter to the Constitution, contradicts the national concepts, even is at variance with the international resolutions and decisions”, and President Assad himself is quoted as saying that “federalization will ruin Syria”.

Therefore, none of the advocates of Syria’s “federalization” should get their hopes up that Damascus will blindly accept this model anytime soon, but if it does in fact agree to it with time, then it can be understood as having been the “lesser evil” which was realistically available to its leadership at that moment, and all sincere supporters of the country should consequently back its sovereign choice regardless of whatever it eventually decides to do.

All personal views are my own and do not necessarily coincide with the positions of my employer (Sputnik News) or partners unless explicitly and unambiguously stated otherwise by them. I write in a private capacity unrepresentative of anything and anyone except for my own personal views. Nothing written by me should ever be conflated with Sputnik or the Russian government’s official position on any issue.

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