New report on post-Assad

New report on post-Assad

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
New report on post-Assad

Members of the rebel Free Syrian Army fighters take position in Aleppo’s Bustan al-Basha district. REUTERS photo

In preparation for a possible ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, approximately 45 Syrian opposition activists have drafted a political roadmap they call “The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria.” It includes work to be done prior to the fall of the regime to ensure a successful and orderly transition process for a post-al-Assad order.

The Institute of Peace (USIP) and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) initiated the project shortly after the March 2011 uprising. Working groups established six critical areas of focus: rule of law; security sector reform; transitional justice; economic and social policy reform; constitution making; and election system design.

The report was introduced to the public yesterday at a meeting hosted by the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM).

The group included senior representatives of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCC) as well as former generals, economists and lawyers, from inside Syria and the diaspora, “representing all major political trends and components of Syrian society.”

“We view this document as our collective contribution to an ongoing debate among Syrians — both inside and outside the country — about the most effective ways to manage the challenges that are sure to arise following the end of the al-Assad regime,” the working group report said.

A transitional justice program should be designated in Syria to “achieve justice for the victims of systematic human rights violations and past abuses,” the report said. It also drew attention to the challenges posed by a divided society with sectarian and regional tensions and the accountability and justice that a new government might be unable to address.

To pave the way for the establishment of the rule of law steps, such as the establishment of foundations for transitional justice, should be taken prior to the fall of the al-Assad regime, the report said.

According to the report, “Necessary steps include establishing a Preparatory Committee to begin to map a strategy of transitional justice; preparing to safeguard records and documentation; beginning public messaging and outreach to avoid revenge attacks and raise awareness of transitional justice mechanisms; and preparing personnel who will be engaged in transitional justice institutions.”

“Leave existing personnel in the regular justice system in place during the Transition,” the report also recommended. The report also called for the identification of “the names of those suspected of having committed human rights violations during or prior to the revolution.”

The report said that in the framework of ‘Security Sector Reform,’ the armed forces, law enforcement and intelligence agencies will be led by and operated “under civilian authority” and the security sector will be open to all Syrian citizens, regardless of their ethnic background and/or sectarian affiliation.

The transitional government will likely encounter urgent security challenges such as civil disturbances, revenge attacks and attempts to regain power by regime remnants, the report said. Steps to reform the security sectors need to be taken as soon as possible, according to the report.

Building trust between the political leadership of opposition groups and the Free Syrian Army is a crucial step, according to the report. It called for the establishment of a transitional security force based around organizations including the Syrian National Police and the preliminary vetting of retired and active high-ranking officers in the army and police to identify trustworthy individuals who might take leadership roles in security sector reform.