Russia, Iran might push Turkey to start dialogue with Syria
On the same day Turkey and the United States compromised an agreement on the situation in northeastern Syria, a Russian senior delegation was also in the Turkish capital to discuss the same issue.
The delegation was led by Russia’s special envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, whose next stop was Damascus to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his talks in Ankara. A statement after the meeting by the Russian side said, “The general opinion was expressed that the path to reliable and long-term stabilization of the territories to the east of the Euphrates River lies through the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, the return of all Syrian lands to the control of the Syrian Arabic Republic government.”
Earlier in the week, the Russian envoy had meetings with YPG representatives to facilitate an agreement between the Assad regime and the Kurdish group.
The Russian diplomacy was quick and efficient in providing an understanding between Damascus and the YPG so that its troops with the Syrian army would get organized to fill the void left by the United States troops in Manbij, Kobane and some other cities.
The diplomacy carried out by Russia included a phone conversation between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on Oct 17.
“They expressed a common view on the necessity of attaining a secure and lasting stabilization on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic by starting a dialogue between Damascus and Ankara, as well as between the Syrian authorities and the local Kurds. The parties emphasized that both Russia and Iran are prepared to assist in such meetings,” read the statement issued by Moscow after the phone call.
The intention of Russia and Iran to push Turkey to start a dialogue with Syria is known. They have long been proposing this from the launch of the Astana Process in early 2017. The Adana Protocol signed between Turkey and Syria in 1998 that stipulates the latter’s cessation of its support to the PKK is believed to provide the necessary foundation of a potential Ankara-Damascus dialogue, these two countries suggest.
As a matter of fact, the Turkish government has confirmed that unofficial talks between security and intelligence officials take place when the conditions in the field necessitate such a dialogue. But it has not yet given a strong signal that it’s ready to launch a formal communication line with Damascus.
It is, therefore, expected that the Russian side will revisit the idea of a Turkish-Syrian dialogue during the talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Oct. 22 in Sochi.
The meeting in Sochi between the two leaders will be an important one as the parameters have changed in the east of Euphrates to the advantage of the Russian-Syrian duo.
Turkey has to reach a deal with Russia as complemental to its agreement with the U.S. for the complete withdrawal of the YPG from its borders, but the intentions of the Russian side seem to be much more decisive in regards to the Turkish plans to create a safe zone in the said region.