Sep 17, 2019, 6:49 PM
Journalist ID: 2382
News Code: 83479609
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Victorious sides of Ankara summit

Tehran, Sept 17, IRNA - Analysts and foreign media assess the talks in Ankara between Iran, Russia and Turkey, which emphasized the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity, a success for Bashar al-Assad's government and supporters of Damascus.

The fifth round of talks, called the "Astana Process" with bilateral meetings, was followed by talks between Russian, Iranian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, respectively in Ankara. The meetings ended with a press conference by the three presidents, with the final result being an emphasis on finding a political solution to the Syrian crisis alongside maintaining its territorial integrity.

The most important issue raised at the Ankara summit was the issue of Idlib. Prior to this, the Turkish government, as the most important supporter of the opposition, has a different view with Iran and Russia who supported the legitimate government of President Bashar al-Assad. The situation now seems to have changed dramatically, with the Assad government stabilized, Ankara's main concern is resolving the issue of immigrants to Syria and the future of the Syrian Kurds.

It is said that over 3.6 million Syrians have now taken refuge in Turkey. Ankara fears that the prospect of a massive Damascus attack on Idlib could lead to a new wave of asylum seekers. Another issue that is of utmost importance to Ankara is the situation of the Kurds in Syria and the future of the northern region because it is concerned about the unification of Syria and Turkey’s Kurds and the strengthening of their position.

Turkey and issue of refugees

The issue of asylum seekers is one that has been a leverage by Turkey against the West despite pressure on the Turkish government. France 24 News Channel referred to Rouhani's key point in his final speech as Syria's presidential election in 2021 or 2010, but evaluated Idlib as Putin and Erdogan's focus, the presence of terrorist groups in the region and the Damascus government’s military strikes backed by Russia’s air strike. In addition, the President of Turkey pays special attention to the issue of asylum seekers.

According to the above analysis, Turkey believes that Damascus’ attack on the opposition will cause widespread conflict in Idlib, which may lead refugees to Turkey. Erdogan, on the other hand, warned Europe to open the Turkish border in the event of a conflict so that it would flow the wave to European countries.

Erdogan's warning on the issue of asylum-seekers has raised concerns in European countries, the Guardian newspaper reported. The Turkish president is deeply angry with the European Union and the United States claiming that it has spent $40 billion on asylum-seekers so far. He has accused them of failing to fulfill their obligations.

US; looser of the Syrian developments

Although all three countries insist on preserving the country's territorial integrity, Erdogan has another specific concern that was partly addressed in his remarks. Erdogan said the aim of the three countries was to prevent Syria from breaking down. According to analysts, the Turkish government's main concern is that strengthening the position of Kurds in Syria is a major security risk for Ankara, as it may provoke Turkey's Kurds or lead the Kurds to unite.

This is an issue that is critical to Ankara in a way that has even kept Ankara and Washington away. Despite initial cooperation between the United States and Turkey in the early years of the Syrian civil war, in recent years Washington's support for some Kurdish groups and in particular the establishment of special relations between the White House and the "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) brought Turkey’s fierce protest. Turkey has declared the Washington-backed group as terrorist.

Experts also see one reason for Erdogan's proximity to Iran and Russia's approaches, along with Ankara's field defeats and despair at the White House. The Turkish president said after the meeting that more parts of northern Syria should be turned into safe areas in order to return the Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

He believes these people should be transferred to areas now occupied by Kurdish forces. For this reason, the Syrian Kurds appear to oppose the proposal that it could disrupt the population composition of these areas.

France 24 has said that despite Putin's and Erdogan's diverging interests in Syria, they have closed their ranks and have only met seven times 2019. Military cooperation and energy agreements are among the issues that have brought the two countries closer together.

Al Jazeera's website wrote in a report assessed the Ankara Summit a victory for Bashar al-Assad and his supporters, adding that the creation of a committee to write a democratic constitution and recognize the president of the country was the most significant achievement of the summit.

The report assessed the meeting as an opportunity to focus on Idlib as the last refuge of rebels against the central Syrian government. While Iran and Russia see the remnants of the ISIS as the most important factor for instability in Syria, Erdogan assessed Kurdish armed groups as the most important threat for the region. Rouhani and Putin in particular cited the presence of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda affiliate, as the reason for the government's recent attacks on Idlib.

Putin, however, described the focus on a constitutional committee comprising representatives of the government, opposition and civil society as one of the last steps to normalize the situation in the Syria Republic.

According to Al Jazeera analysts, on the whole, Ankara summit was in favor of Bashar al-Assad and Russia because the composition of the committee was designed in his favor.

Analysts believe that Russia and Iran are the victorious side of developments in Ankara Summit to varying degrees and in the ground, while Turkey is trapped between Europe, the United States and Russia. Al Jazeera, however, sees Turkey and Russia are grappled with a major bargain because developments in Syria and on the other hand the issue of arms sales to Ankara, in particular the delivery of  S-400 missile system, are all policies adopted against the White House approach.

According to experts, given America's inefficient policies in the Middle East, the opportunity now is for Moscow to show itself as a major player in the region and to work for a peaceful resolution of tensions in which the US has failed.


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