Western, Gulf states dismiss Russian peace plan for Syria

Russia has proposed an eight-point plan designed to put an end to the crisis in Syria, alleging that it presents Moscow’s vision and ideas, but also that it remains open to alternative proposals in the upcoming peace talks on November 14. The leaked document propose a constitutional reform in Syria lasting for 18 months followed by presidential elections. The plan does not clarify the position of current president Bashar Al-Assad but says that the president of Syria will not chair the constitutional commission or the reform process but a candidate agreed upon by all the sides. It also called for the UN Special Envoy to lead negotiations between the Syrian government and a united delegation of opposition groups based on the Geneva agreement in 2012, which called for the formation of a transitional government in Syria.

Shortly after circulating the proposal, the West and Gulf Arab nations dismissed the Russian plan saying that it will not form the basis of the upcoming Vienna talks. The plan has been rejected primarily due to the unclear fate of Assad. The plan omits whether the current president should step down or remain in power during the political transition. The Western and Gulf states wish are conditioning any transition process on Assad’s resignation. Even though Assad has not been proposed as a potential chair of the constitutional commission, the plan does not prohibit him from running for president again. Saudi Arabia is particularly insistent on a clear commitment from Russia and Iran that Bashar Al-Assad will step down as a president.

Tehran maintains the position that the key question spreads over security and stability not a specific person, with en emphasis on strong state role in eradicating terrorism. Both Russia and Iran maintain that Syrian people rather than peace negotiators should decide Assad’s fate through elections. But previous mixed statements suggest that Iran might be more committed to Assad staying in power, as some of Iranian representatives made statements that no better person could replace Assad at this stage. Keeping Assad in power is not a matter of principle for Moscow who insists on the role of Syrian people to make a decision.

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