Vladimir Putin has drawn up this plan for the Sochi conference. He will put it before Binyamin Netanyahu when they meet on Monday, Jan. 29.
DEBKAfile reports that the Russian president has prepared a plan for Syria’s post-war future for presentation to the Syrian peace conference which begins on the same day at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. Moscow has taken into account 1,600 Syrian government and opposition participants. Some rebel groups have announced a boycott. DEBKAfile reports that the absentees are pro-Assad and pro-Iranian groups who are boycotting the event to reflect their masters’ objections to the Russian president’s plans. Unless he decides to back down at the last moment, those plans are substantially as follows:
- Early democratic elections to the presidency and parliament, guaranteed by Moscow to be genuinely democratic with all parts of the population allowed for the first time to vote and put up candidates for office.
- The new constitution will reflect the demographic changes overtaking the country in the seven-year war. The largest group, the Sunnis, will win majority representation in parliament, while Bashar Assad’s small Allawite sect will no longer be privileged as a ruling minority. Assad will thus automatically lose his dominant rule on Syria’s political scene.
- A New National Syrian Army is to be established, to replace the government force, which has been heavily depleted in the long war. Since most young Syrians of military age refused to join Assad’s army in the last few years, most military units exist only on paper. Once again, the country’s demographic structure will be represented at all ranks of the new army. Moscow is committed to funding the new army and furnishing it with modern weapons, as well as restructuring the units, a process already in hand.
This was the nub of the information that Putin proposes to relay to the Israeli prime minister when they meet in Moscow on Monday, the same day as the Sochi conference. Netanyahu will also ask his host to make this measure ironclad so that Tehran and Hizballah will never find a loophole for their return to Syria. If Putin succeeds in getting part of his Syrian peace plan accepted at the Sochi conference, he will have brought off a major feat.