Turki Mustafa, Baladi News
The activities of Geneva 4 conference started on Thursday, 23rd of February 2017 with a remarkable tension after the international envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has divided the representatives of the Syrian opposition to three delegations: The delegation of the Supreme Commission for negotiation formed by the revolutionary forces and opposition, the platforms of Cairo and Moscow, the actual interface of Russia. The delegation of the supreme commission held firm in order to avoid withdrawing from the conference which Assad regime tried to blow it up like what happened in previous conferences, the thing that prompted De Mistura to pretend that the negotiations are going well in order to achieve success in this round before the end of his mission late this March, as he failed over the last 3 and half years to realize any progress in the political process. The talks witnessed debates between the delegations of opposition and Assad's regime regarding the political transition issue. On the other hand, the opposition is insisting on restricting its negotiating delegation with the higher commission away from the platforms of Cairo and Moscow, while Russia is trying to transfer Geneva 4 to Astana through negotiating the representatives of Syrian revolutionary factions in order to reach a political settlement that conforms with Assad's regime perspective which is forming a national unity government under the leadership of Assad.
A Background on The Opposition Delegations:
The Higher Commission For Negotiation was formed in Riyadh with the participation of all opposition factions and it is the legal representative of opposition in Geneva talks, on the other hand, the platform of Moscow pretends to represent the opposition, but actually it represents the Russian attitude as it's formed from former personnel in Assad's regime led by Qadri Jameel, a former minister in Assad's government after the revolution. Regarding the platform of Cairo, it's dominated by independent opponent figures who demand an equal share in decision making. This platform works mainly on diminishing the role of the higher commission of negotiations to realize the interests of the countries supporting the platform and the main aim behind all this is to derail Geneva talks from its real purpose.
The warplanes of Assad and Russia in the sky of Geneva:
Regime forces backed by Iranian militias and a Russian air cover have never stopped their attempts to advance on the outskirts of Damascus and the eastern countryside of Aleppo, not to forget the heavy bombardment on the countryside of Idlib and al-Wa'er neighborhood in Homs. Those attacks resulted in the martyrdom of 500 civilians, most of them were women and children, and the aim behind those operations was to put pressure on the delegation of the higher commission in the current talks of Geneva in order to force it to agree on forming a transitional government depending mainly on the platforms supported by Moscow. Moreover, Assad, Iran and Moscow are fully aware that if the international resolutions issued by security council in Geneva 1 and 2 are applied, then Assad will be toppled and to avoid such a destiny, Russia started to disavow applying those resolutions by bringing the opposition to Astana and though foiling the international resolution number 2118 which states that Assad and his regime are to leave. Russia also replaced the resolution 2254 regarding the formation of a transitional governing entity that depends on the international resolutions with forming a national unity government under the auspices of Assad. Assad is putting pressure of the opposition delegation through committing multiple massacres against civilians in order to push the opposition towards making political concessions or even suspending its participation in the talks and so Assad will appear as the party holding to the political solution in front of the international community, but actually it is the party responsible for hindering the negotiations since the beginning of the revolution.
Geneva Mines and Homs Explosions
The explosion in the security square in Homs coincided with Geneva negotiations and Assad directly accused the opposition in order to embarrass it with its supporters, while Russia and China have used "their 7th veto" to defend Assad who used chemical weapons against the Syrian people according to the special security council committee that was working on this issue.
International Conflicts of Geneva
Russia is hurrying to reach a political settlement in Syria because it's afraid of the ambiguity of the American role that is working on ruining its relation with Turkey and embarrassing its Iranian ally. On the other hand, Russia sees the expanding Iranian influence in Syria as a threat to its project as Iran is now controlling most of the Syrian occupied regions because what's left from Assad's army cannot control those regions by themselves and so the Russian's strategy in Syria is now confronted by the Iranian strategy that aims at realizing the Shiite crescent project in the first place. On the ground, Russia is supporting Assad's regime "in combatting terrorism" and at the same time it's activating a peaceful settlement operation to reach a Syrian-Syrian agreement and so the Russian delegation has made it to Geneva as a result of the cease-fire which was agreed upon in Astana, but at the same time the Russians have asked Assad and the Iranian militias to stop the bombardment during the negotiations of Geneva, however their orders have fallen on deaf ears. So, it can be concluded that the international and regional parties are working on prolonging the armed conflict in Syria in order o put pressure on each other regardless of the killing and destruction, and this is the main reason behind the disagreements on the major points of the Syrian case like the transitional governing entity, the safe regions, and the attitude towards Assad's destiny.
Repercussions of Geneva 4
The track of the negotiation operation in Geneva obliges the delegation of the higher commission of negotiation to work on scrutinizing every international statement of resolution and stop at every political or military detail, as the Russians are trying to diminish the role of the real Syrian opposition by empowering the platforms of Moscow and Cairo as they both are connected to Assad's security apparatuses and they insist on keeping Assad in presidency. The higher commission has also to observe the developments of the European return to the Syrian file lest Russia dominates it. It also has to deeply study Trump's suggestion to establish safe zones in Syria along with observing all the international parties that work on solving the Syrian case which has become a regional and international burden.
In the light of the repercussions of Geneva conference and the obstacles and disagreements it's facing, the political opposition has to be organized in managing the political conflict by holding firm to the fundamentals of the Syrian revolution according to the international resolutions issued in Geneva as a base for any political settlement and so the delegation of the opposition must interact with the incubator of the revolution to stand against all the projects that are being hatched in the international, regional and local political corridors, whether in Geneva 4 or other international forums.