In a statement, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said the “Syrian-owned and Syrian-led” constitutional committee will be facilitated by the United Nations in Geneva, and he thanked Russia, Turkey and Iran for their diplomatic efforts. Russia and Iran are allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey supports the opposition in Syria’s civil war.
During a summit last week between the Russian, Turkish and Iranian presidents, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that agreement had been reached on the makeup of the committee and that it would begin work “as soon as possible in a coordinated manner with the U.N.”
“The Syrian government is satisfied with the agreement that was reached; we are optimistic, and we look forward to good work from this committee,” Mohammed Khair Akkam, a Syrian lawmaker and a member of the government’s delegation to the Geneva talks, said Monday.
“We consider the formation of the committee and its launch a step or key toward finding a political solution in Syria, a step toward executing international law,” said Yahya al-Aridi, a spokesman for the opposition High Negotiations Committee.
“Our concern is Syrian rights, and if the regime’s concern is to hold on to the seat of power, no effort will lead to any solution.”
Nasr al-Hariri, the head of the High Negotiations Committee, said the first meeting could be held in Geneva within a month.
The constitutional committee will be made up of 50 opposition members, 50 representing the government and 50 representing civil society.
After eight years of conflict, the bulk of Syria has returned under government control, with various opposition groups holding parts of the northwest and U.S.-backed Kurdish groups holding the northeast.
Earlier Monday, the Kurdish-led autonomous administration in northern and eastern Syria issued a statement rejecting the constitutional committee, saying Kurds had been sidelined in the process.
“The absence of any side means the absence of democracy in the constitution,” the statement said.
Akkam, the Syrian lawmaker, dismissed the criticism. “Those who are acting at the behest of the Americans do not get to complain about their lack of representation,” he said.