The HNC presented their framework at a meeting of several foreign ministers in the UK earlier this month. Photo: Boris Johnson Twitter
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The High Negotiations Committee (HNC) representing a coalition of Syrian opposition groups at the UN-led peace talks in Geneva, is at the United Nations promoting their framework for a political solution to the civil war – a document the Kurdish National Council (KNC) has rejected as a “danger to a democratic, pluralistic and unified Syria,” in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The HNC’s framework aims to establish “a new social contract for Syria, building a political system that protects freedoms, safeguards individual rights, and that is founded upon the principles of liberty, equality, citizenship, and justice,” reads the document detailing their plan.
The KNC, however, points to the first statement in the document’s General Principles, which names solely Arab culture and Islam as sources “for intellectual production and social relations.”
The Kurdish group said this excludes other cultures and faiths and they “feel repulsed by this narrow perception of the Syrian people. The similarities between this definition and the chauvinist policies under the [President] Assad regime are undeniable.”
The KNC called for the ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity of Syria to be assured through an inclusive, decentralized decision-making, which, “like federal structures do, combined with a strong notion of democracy can provide for a meaningful participation of all parts of the Syrian people.”
They stated that if the Kurds are excluded from political participation in Syria, “Kurdish people would not only face hard times, but may have to take critical decisions regarding their future.”
The HNC’s framework set out a three-phase plan: Phase one is a six-month negotiation process that includes a ceasefire. Phase two is a year and a half-long transition period that would begin once basic principles of the transition process are agreed on and would see the establishment of a Transitional Governing Body. The third and final phase would see the implementation of a revised constitution and elections.
Dr. Riyad Hijab, general coordinator of the HNC, addressed a meeting at the UN on Monday attended by representatives from Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Qatar, Turkey, the US, and the UK. He detailed his body’s framework and “set out the clear choice now facing the international community: ongoing death, violence and terrorism under Assad or a peaceful future leading to a new constitution, and free and fair elections under international supervision,” according to a statement from the HNC.