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Turkey Hosts A Critical Summit On Syria With Russia, Iran
The presidents of Iran, Turkey and Russia meet on Wednesday for their second tripartite summit in under six months, which is aiming to speed the peace process for Syria and bolster their influence in the country.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will host his Russian and Iranian counterparts Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani in the Ankara for a meeting that have the critical bearing on developments in Syria.
The meeting is the second such tripartite summiting after the first hosting through Putin in November in the Black Sea city of Sochi and is a new symbol of the increasingly broad cooperation.
The three powers have backing peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana which they were arguing is a parallel process to support the UN-support discussions in the Geneva.
Experts say that the Ankara, Moscow and Tehran have quite a different interest but have for now deciding to team up to take advantage of the waning Western influence in Syria.
The Hours before the summit, US President Donald Trump says he wanted to “bring our troops back home” from Syria after indicating last week the US will withdrawing from the country “very soon”.
Jana Jabbour, professor of the political science at Sciences Po university in Paris, says the summit aims to “reorganise and renegotiate the zones of influence in Syria as well as to reflecting on the future of Syria’s north after US withdrawal”.
Turkey drove out Kurdish militia from the Afrin city on March 18, two months after it is launching an offensive in northern Syria supporting Syrian rebels.
Erdogan has indicating Turkey could extend its operation to the YPG-held town of Manbij as well as Ayn al-Arab (Kobane) and Qamishli, all east of the Afrin.
“Erdogan likely to wants to use the summit to secure Russian and Iranian support for expanding operations in the northern Syria or Iraq,” says Elizabeth Teoman, Turkey analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.
After bilateral talks with the Putin on Tuesday, Erdogan says Turkey and Russia will continue the cooperation focusing on our shared interests” in Syria.
Jabbour says Iran and Russia will give free reining Turkey in the north against the YPG in exchange for bringing the groups which are controlling negotiate.
“Turkey remains a key player in the Syrian crisis. Especially because of the opposition groups it controls. The solution is the crisis which is unimaginable without Ankara’s contribution,” she is adding.
Moscow and Tehran are supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad politically and militarily, Turkey has repeatedly called for his removal and supporting Syrian opposition fighters.
Last year, the powers agreed to set up “de-escalation areas” in the western Idlib province, north of Homs province, parts of the Deraa and Quneitra provinces in southern Syria and Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, which has come under a heavy bombardment.
Cooperation between the three in Syria “may break down at some point”, Teoman has warned, while issues between Moscow and Turkey can come to the fore over Idlib.
The Idlib’s civilian infrastructure is primarily controlling through the jihadist alliance Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, let through Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliating.
Turkey is to prevent a Russia-backed regime assault on the province home to around 2.5 million people who analysts say will have a few places to flee after having already fled areas such as Ghouta and Aleppo.
Turkish army forces have now set up the eight observation posts to keep the ceasefire intact, but Moscow wants the Ankara to also exert influence over the jihadists in control of Idlib.
Teoman says that tensions between Russia and Turkey “will flare up again when the pro-regime coalition refocuses on the Idlib province.”
Tensions may also emerge behind the scene between Russia and Iran, with the Moscow much more concerning to press for the reform under Assad than the Tehran.
More than 340,000 people have killed since the war began following the anti-government protests in the year 2011, while the millions have internally displaced or forced to flee.
Turkey hosts over 3.5 million Syrian refugees, and Ankara is to avoid a further influx ahead of the year 2019 elections and also wants to install some refugees in safe zones inside Syria.
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