The document, entitled “The Plan for Democratic Change in Syria,” will be released during a meeting in Istanbul, with the participation of the president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNC), Ahmad Asi Al-Jarba. The president of the Syrian National Council, George Sabra, will also attend.
It is the result of regular meetings over the past year, involving around 300 Syrian experts, academics and activists in the fields of politics, security, economics, and law. Former governmental officials and officers, as well as leaders from local councils and the Free Syrian Army (FSA), have also provided input.
The director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies, Radwan Ziadeh, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “after repeated accusations that the Syrian opposition does not have a vision for the phase after the downfall of [Syrian president] Bashar Al-Assad, we are offering today, for the first time, an integrated vision for a democratic future after the revolution.”
Ziadeh said that the proposals in the road map will give hope to Syrians amid growing fears over the rise of Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Democracy, through a parliamentary system that respects all Syrians, is the ultimate aim for the country, he said. “[The plan] also gives hope that the revolution, for which they have paid with their precious blood, will achieve their goals with the arrival of dignity, equality and democracy to the state.”
For his part, the former head of the Syrian National Army, Major General Mohamed Haj Ali—a participant in the meetings that led to the document—told Asharq Al-Awsat that the basic message of the study is to reassure the Syrian people. It confirms, he said, that the Syrian people will be as one in the future state of Syria, which will not distinguish between sect, ethnicity, religion or even nationality.
The study of more than 250 pages contains finalized recommendations. Among them are: constitutional reform, the rule of law, structures of political systems, political parties and electoral system reforms, restructuring the security services, building a modern national army, economic reform, and reconstruction. Plans for a transitional judiciary and a national reconciliation program have also been prepared for the post-conflict phase.
Haj Ali stressed that “those who participated in its preparation and formulation are individuals known for their expertise and knowledge in the field that they are operating in.”
Ziyadeh added that the study contains practical recommendations that were relevant whether the government falls as the result of a military defeat or via negotiations at the forthcoming “Geneva 2” conference.
“These recommendations are valid for all parties, and provide a vision of what the coming stages will be throughout the democratic transition process,” he said.
The study states that: “The governing system in the future Syria will be a parliament, while the balance of power will be ensured between three authorities in the state institutions.”
It also proposes that the constitution of 1950 will be used as a starting point for the new constitution, and measures aimed to guarantee the independence of the judiciary from the executive branch, in addition to a restructuring of the security services and the removal of corrupt officials. All armed groups will be disarmed and reintegrated into Syrian society.
Haj Ali said that he “cannot enforce these recommendations upon anyone, but they offer suggestions for the phase of removing the Syrian regime.”