A leaked document, reported to be a Kremlin-drafted new constitution for Syria, appears to outline a future Syrian state as being neither Arab nor Muslim in character. The draft constitution was handed to representatives of the Bashar Al-Assad regime, as well as the opposition.
The document contains 27 articles within it and changes much from previous constitutions, particularly in terms of identity. Rather than referring to Syria by its formal name of the Syrian Arab Republic, the apparently new constitution has reduced it to the "Syrian Republic", erasing the Arab identity from the state's name.
The proposed Russian-backed constitution also describes Syria as a "secular and democratic" republic, and erases the previous article that stipulated that Islamic jurisprudence would be foundation of any legislation passed in the Arab country.
Similarly, the president of the republic, previously required to be of the Muslim faith in order to be representative of the overwhelming majority of the Syrian people, was redefined as being from any faith and ethnicity.
In what may be seen as a further attack on Syria's predominantly Arab population, the constitution calls for autonomous Kurdish-controlled regions in the north of the country, drawing equality between both the Arabic and Kurdish languages, despite Kurds being a significant minority population.
According to the document, rule in Syria would be devolved away from centralised authorities in Damascus and will be represented by a new parliament that is comprised of the regional representatives of the decentralised provincial governments.
The draft constitution, if genuine, will likely inflame the Syrian opposition who will view the "new" Syria as being similar to a Soviet-era rump state rather than an independent and sovereign republic. It will also likely spell trouble for the Assad regime, who will be accused of betraying the Arab identity, and allowing the republic to be placed under the thumb of Russia, now widely seen as an imperialist power.