Initiative to End the Civil War in Syria – An amended version

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This new and amended version of the Tharwa Initiative to End the Civil War in Syria reflects feedback from a large number of activists and opposition members  from inside and outside the country that Tharwa received since the launch of the preliminary version on June 30, 2015. The next phase seeks to publicize the Initiative on the international level.  (Arabic Version)

The main aim of this Initiative is to transform the conflict in Syria from a devastating military operation into a political process through which the parties involved, domestic and foreign, can agree on interim administration arrangements that would allow each domestic party to start rebuilding what has been destroyed, resettle the refugees and provide humanitarian aid to the needy in their areas of control with the help of their regional and international allies. Meanwhile, talks regarding the final administrative, political, legal and constitutional status of the country could begin and should last as long as needed even if for years.

The main points of this initiative are:

  1. The parties should agree on clear ceasefire lines separating the areas under their respective control, and, during the transitional period, each region should be considered as a unified administrative unit, governed by a specific domestic party in accordance with a specific internal consensus. This arrangement comes as part of a continued commitment by all parties involved in this conflict, domestic and foreign, to the unity and sovereignty of Syria.
  1. The parties should agree on clear terms for cooperation between their respective territorial units in a number of critical areas, particularly with regard to security and the economy, and in regard to deciding on mechanisms for movement between the units and for managing the existing relations between the different communities and social strata in each region.
  1. The parties should agree on neutralizing Damascus’s role in the conflict by establishing a neutral interim government there involving representatives of the various parties and tasked with managing the affairs of the city and its environs under the supervision of a special international committee appointed by the United Nations’ Security Council. Preferably, the UN special envoy to Syria should be empowered to form this interim government in consultation with all internal, regional and international parties concerned.
  1. The parties should agree on appointing a consensus-building Syrian figure as interim president for a period ranging from 2 years as a minimum and 5 years as a maximum, not subject to renewal, tasked with supervising the talks between the different parties and coordinating the regional and international efforts in this regard. Meanwhile, Bashar Al-Assad can remain responsible for governing the areas under the control of his loyalist militias and for representing those social strata and communities who still consider him as a legitimate spokesman for their interests.
  1. If necessary, the parties should agree on a peaceful swap of territories and populations in an attempt to preserve the security of all communities and social strata. Knowing the difficulties involved in population transfers, the decision to move should rest with the local communities affected. Moreover, suitable financial and in-kind compensation (such as housing) should be made available to all those affected within a reasonable timeframe.
  1. The parties should agree to invite peacekeepers drawn from neutral countries to monitor the agreed ceasefire lines and checkpoints, and to supervise movement and transport across the country’s borders as well as through its international airports and harbors, in order to prevent any breaches of the ceasefire agreement, facilitate mobility between the different regions, and prevent the flow of fighters and arms to and from the country except in accordance with agreements reached by the warring parties.
  1. During the interim period, each party to the conflict may maintain its fighting units provided it starts, gradually and in accordance to an agreed timetable, to deport all foreign fighters in the ranks. The parties should not attempt to evade this issue by granting residencies or citizenship to these foreign fighters.
  1. The parties should agree that the interim government should respect all agreements and conventions that the regime has signed up until this Initiative was made public.
  1. The parties should abolish hate and incendiary speech in their areas of control, should respect the sanctity of all religious shrines and temples as well as all historical monuments, and should guarantee the safety of all religious visitors and pilgrims coming from home and abroad.
  1. Once this agreement is signed in its final detailed version, the parties should agree to direct and coordinate their efforts aimed at combatting all groups committed to supporting international terrorism which have built headquarters for themselves and have imposed their control on Syrian territories. The parties should at this point release all political prisoners and detainees, provide lists of all those who perished while in detention, and allow for a full inspection of their detention facilities by UN human rights monitors to ensure full compliance.
  1. The interim period will be considered to have begun on the date the interim president is appointed, and should end once the interim president resigns following a period in office lasting no less than 2 years and no more than 5 years. The interim period should not be renewed or extended. Talks on the final status of the country should begin and end while the interim president is in office, and should deal with all issues related to Syria’s future, including the adoption of new constitution, and deciding on all matters related to transitional justice. The date for the departure of the interim president should coincide with the date when a nationally elected president is scheduled to assume office. The date of the departure of the interim president should also coincide with the date for ending the operations and activities of the interim government and for the beginning of the operations of a newly elected national government.
  1. Any electoral process or referendum taking place during the interim period should be supervised by the UN through its appropriate agencies.

Agreeing to these points requires entering into new negotiations over the details concerning its implementation, including: agreeing on the identity of the interim president and other members of the interim government, agreeing on the identity of the internal parties that have the right to take part in the government and in later negotiations, agreeing on timetables and ceasefire lines, etc. The Interim Period will be considered to have begun once this final agreement is signed, which is also the date for when the Interim President should officially assume office.

(The Background document can still be accessed on this link).