In order for Nazi Germany to control occupied France during World War II, it used some Frenchmen and formed a government of dummies, also called the Vichy government, to convince the world of the legitimacy of its presence.
This is what the Damascus regime is doing as of now. When the Syrian regime realized that the opposition has more legitimacy than it had, it resorted to the trick of inventing groups called “the opposition” and allowed them to work in Damascus and sent them to capitals which support it, like Tehran and Moscow, to negotiate on behalf of the opposition.
For more than three years now, no one believed this charade operating under the name of Moscow and Cairo factions, which are just extensions of the Syrian regime.
The Damascus regime has, with the help of Russia, imposed these groups on the Geneva negotiations. After the international envoy had agreed to include them, Moscow now calls for their integration with the real opposition delegation. When the real opposition refused to integrate with these fake groups, they were accused of sabotaging the negotiations.
There is no point for the HNC to continue participating in these negotiations now that they have deprived themselves of everything, even of their right to represent the oppositionAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova did not like the opposition’s move and said: “The so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC) is refusing to cooperate equally with the Moscow and Cairo factions and is in fact sabotaging fully fledged dialogue.”
After including the Moscow and Cairo factions, Geneva’s negotiations turned into a political farce, which is the worst in history as we have seen nothing like it. Even the fake Vichy government had more integrity than them.
Right to opposition
I think there is no point for the HNC to continue participating in these negotiations now that they have deprived themselves of everything, even of their right to represent the opposition.
Everything that represents the Syrian regime is fake. Its army isn’t its army and its opposition, which it insists to negotiate with, isn’t really an opposition. The Assad regime has been known for fabricating slogans related to nationalism, Arabism and democracy and for forging elections and inventing groups like Fateh al-Sham, on behalf of the Palestinian resistance in Lebanon, and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
When it assassinated former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005, it created an organization it named Jund al-Sham and produced a video in which a man named Abu Adas claimed that he was the one who assassinated Hariri. It later turned out that it was a fabricated story as the international investigation exposed the names of real perpetrators who were linked to the regime in Damascus.
The Syrian regime did even more than all that during the Iraq war after the American invasion. In cooperation with Iran, it established organizations that claimed to be Islamic and Baathist resistance. These opposition platforms are a façade submitting to the regime’s demands and defending it.
As long as Moscow and Iran support these Moscow and Cairo factions, it is better if it signs a deal with them in Tehran and end this farce.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 6, 2017.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.