UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura will meet for the second time with representatives of the three Syria 'guarantor states' – Russia, Turkey and Iran – in Geneva to discuss the formation of the Syrian constitutional commission and the situation in Idlib province.
The first meeting of the kind took place in June. Now it will also last two days, September 10-11, and is supposed to go further into details of the composition of the future Syrians-only body.
The decision to set up the commission, tasked with introducing changes to the country’s constitution, was made at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in the Russian resort city of Sochi in January. De Mistura, who is in charge of forming the commission, is expected to single out some 40 people from 150 candidates from guarantor countries, government, opposition groups and civil society.
The guarantors are represented by Russian Special Presidential Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin, Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.
Issues that are to be reviewed are the composition, decision-making process, ways to get out of the situation of impasse, and the time frames for its work.
Another issue that the guarantor states and de Mistura will not avoid reviewing is the current situation in Idlib province - the last area in the country dominated by the armed opposition.
According to the United Nations, Idlib is the base for approximately 10,000 members of the Nusra Front and al-Qaeda terrorist groups. The Nusra Front terror organization is the backbone of a terrorist alliance called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which groups five radical Islamist factions and is widely regarded as the dominant force on the ground in the province. The Syrian government has pledged to drive the remaining terrorists out of Idlib and has begun taking steps toward a full-scale military operation in the area.
On September 14, a few days after hosting Russian, Turkish and Iranian officials, the UN Special Envoy will hold the meeting with senior diplomats from the so-called Small Group on Syria - Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. They will also discuss the UN efforts to establish a constitutional committee in Syria.