Washington on Wednesday said the United States and the international community will not recognize the 2021 presidential elections in Syria if they are not in line with U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
"It is increasingly apparent that the Assad regime is delaying the (Constitutional) Committee's work to buy time as it prepares to carry out a sham presidential election in 2021 and wash its hands of the U.N.-facilitated political process," Kelly Craft, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations, told a UNSC virtual briefing on Syria.
"Syrian elections will not be recognized as legitimate by the U.S. and the international community if they are not in line with Resolution 2254," Craft said. "The international community will not allow the Assad regime to impose a military victory on the Syrian people with an illegitimate presidential election and no political reforms."
U.N. Resolution 2254 was unanimously adopted on Dec. 18, 2015. It called for a cease-fire and political settlement in Syria. The resolution demanded that all parties immediately halt any attacks against civilian targets, it urged all member states to support efforts to achieve a cease-fire and asked the U.N. to convene the parties to engage in formal negotiations in early January 2016. The resolution also underlined that free and fair elections will be held under U.N. supervision. The political transition will be Syrian-led.
The U.N. Resolution 2254 was invoked by Iran, Russia and Turkey as the legal basis for the political process required to solve the Syrian conflict, at the first round of the Astana Talks in January 2017. The first meeting of the Astana process was in Turkey in January 2017 to facilitate U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.
Craft reiterated that there is "no military solution" to the conflict and the "only way" forward for peace is for the Bashar Assad regime to support the political road map outlined in Resolution 2254.
"Even if guns are silenced, social and political wounds from this decadelong horror story will fester," Craft added.
Starting her sentence with "sadly," she said this month marked the fifth anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 2254 with "little meaningful progress toward a political solution."
The envoy expressed the U.S. commitment to "oppose any attempts by the Assad regime and its allies to bypass Resolution 2254" and urged the regime and Russia to ensure immediate progress toward the drafting of a new Syrian constitution during the fifth round of Syria talks in Geneva in January.
Members of what is known as the "small group," formally known as the Constitutional Committee, responsible for the drafting of a new constitution for the war-torn country had met in August.
The group consists of 15 members from the Assad regime, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the Syrian opposition.
Following the third round of talks that ended Aug. 29, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen had said the talks sought to build trust between the sides after nearly 10 years of war.
The Constitutional Committee was created in September 2019 and first convened a month later. The second round of talks, planned for late November, did not take place after a disagreement on the agenda. The last talks have taken place in early December, under the shadow of frequent delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On the humanitarian situation in the country, she said that more than 9 million Syrians need food assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic, the largest number since 2011 when the civil war began.
"As 2020 comes to a close, there is little to celebrate in Syria and much to mourn," Craft said, describing the current situation. "We must not forget that it was Russia and China that forced this council to slash the U.N.'s cross-border humanitarian access in half amid a global pandemic," Craft said.
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