It seems that Erdogan does not and will not consider reconciliation with President al-Assad, due to complicated calculations, as long as he benefits from his presence in Syria, which is his most important card in the overall bargains with the US and Russian sides.
In my last article dated July 16, entitled: “Erdogan between Biden and Putin… Where is the escape?” I talked about the possible outcomes of the Tehran summit, and I said: “While waiting for the tangible and practical results of the Jeddah summit, especially with regard to the regional alliance against Iran and the Gulf countries’ meeting of Biden’s gas and oil demands, which Erdogan will watch closely, others will bet on the results of the Tehran summit, during which (Russian President) Putin and (Iranian President) Raisi will seek to persuade Erdogan of the necessity of reconciliation with President al-Assad “as long as the risks that threaten both sides are shared,” and by that it means the US and European-backed Kurdish militias east of the Euphrates.
At a time when it seems clear that Erdogan does not and will not think about such reconciliation, due to complex calculations, as long as he benefits from his presence in Syria (as is the case in Libya), which is his most important card in the overall bargaining with the American and Russian sides and seeks to confront both of them with tens of thousands of militants and loyalists, and thousands of them are from Chechnya and Uyghurs, Erdogan’s most dangerous weapon in confronting not only external pressures but also to confront possible scenarios before, during and after the upcoming elections.”
The results of the summit came in this context, as Erdogan continued his traditional approach of rejecting a final solution to the Syrian crisis, despite the final statement he signed, and with Erdogan (Tel Aviv’s new friend) surprising everyone, alongside Raisi and Putin, by condemning the Israeli attacks on Syrian sites, with confirming Syria’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan.
Erdogan also surprised everyone when he “denounced the terrorist acts targeting civilian facilities in various parts of Syria, but without naming the parties who carry out these operations. Erdogan also affirmed with Putin and Raisi “the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and rejected any action that contradicts that, whatever its source, and reject separatist tendencies and terrorist acts targeting neighboring countries.” And as usual, Idlib was the most important topic at the summit, as the three leaders stressed in their joint statement, “the need to implement all agreements and understandings related to Idlib and the de-escalation zones, and the need for joint action to ensure the continuity of the current situation in Idlib.”
Without neglecting to address “the work of the Constitutional Committee within the framework of the Astana understandings,” it spoke of the “necessity of the return of Syrian refugees to their original places.”
This is from the statement issued at the conclusion of the summit, which ended with the press conference of the three presidents, and each spoke from his own angle, with the Russian-Iranian views identical and Erdogan not agreeing with them, which was clear during his speech at the press conference, where he said that they are “determined to uproot the roots of terrorism from Syria, which targets the national security of Turkey,” stressing “the importance and necessity of joint action against ISIS, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units,” and said about them, “It is a danger to everyone.”
Without forgetting, Erdogan “holds the ‘regime’ responsible for the failure of the work of the Constitutional Committee and the failure to implement many of the understandings and agreements related to Idlib,” expressing “his satisfaction with the calm prevailing over the situation there.”
The refugees, as usual, were among the most important paragraphs of the speech, during which Erdogan reiterated his well-known position and his talk about housing Syrians in the homes that Turkey is building for them in the vicinity of Idlib, stressing the need for their safe, honorable and dignified return to their country, which must be guaranteed by the three countries, United Nations, and the humanitarian organizations, as what he said, referring to “the lack of trust and confidence of the refugees in President Assad.”
This is in brief about the contradiction between the written and the audible about President Erdogan’s position, and the picture clearly expressed this position, as the head of the intelligence service, Hakan Fidan, sat directly behind him, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was next to him as if Erdogan wanted to tell everyone, “This is my language in dealing with the parties to the Syrian crisis.”
As for the second picture, in the Turkish position, the private, governmental and pro-Erdogan media outlets ignored the statements of Presidents Putin and President Raisi, and confirmed “Erdogan’s consistent position on the issue of the PKK and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units”, and considered this a victory for Turkish diplomacy… And these media outlets broadcast and with them Social media platforms a short video of President Putin in the room alone waiting for President Erdogan to come and considered this “a clever stance from Erdogan, which Putin made him wait in front of the meeting hall in the Kremlin Palace on March 5, 2020,” where they met to discuss the tension in Idlib.
It was and still is, i.e. Idlib, the main topic in the Turkish-Russian/Iranian dialogue within the framework of the Astana understandings and agreements related to that. Ankara has evaded all of its commitments and pledges that President Erdogan signed in Sochi on September 17, 2018, and then Moscow on March 5, 2020, which included the disarmament of terrorist groups in Idlib, referring to al-Nusra Front (Al Qaeda Levant aka HTS) and its allies. It is strange that the final statement in Tehran did not address it, neither in name nor in content, which Erdogan considered a victory for him, given that Ankara is the main guarantor of the “calm that hangs over the region.”
The other contradiction between the final statement and President Erdogan’s speech, which affirmed his commitment to the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Syria, is that Erdogan and the statement also did not talk about the continued comprehensive and absolute Turkish support at all levels for the tens of thousands of militants of the so-called Syrian National Army, which was established in Ankara In October 2019, shortly before the incursion of the Turkish army, along with these militants east of the Euphrates, to control the area stretching from Tal Abyad to Ras al-Ain, with a length of 110 km and a depth of 30 km.
This is what the Turkish army did before that in Afrin and its vicinity in January 2016, and in the area extending from Jarabulus to Al-Bab to Azaz in August 2016. All this was done with a Russian green light that made Turkey the most important element in all regional and international developments, equations, and calculations regarding Syria. Turkey, with its various agencies, controls nine percent of its lands, and contrary to the statement that talked about the unity of the Syrian soil and the sovereignty of the state over all of this soil, he did not speak even in a sentence about the Turkish presence (in northern Syria). With its continuation, the solution in Syria does not and will not be soon, as long as Ankara sees President Assad as “the main reason for all the events in Syria and the continuation of the current situation in it now,” which Erdogan has repeated several times in his speech in Tehran (and on many occasions) to say: “Turkey is not the cause of the crisis to bears the responsibility for solving it alone,” and without it, this solution cannot be achieved!
Finally, and returning to my previous article, which I referred to at the beginning of this article, preacher Ahmed Mahmud Onli surprised everyone with his fiery statements against Erdogan and the state apparatus, without naming them, accusing it of inciting civil war, after it armed its loyalists in various parts of the country.”
This is what the leader of the Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, spoke about several times when he referred to “the secret and dangerous relations between the pro-Erdogan state agencies and terrorist groups in Idlib,” which is the secret of the Turkish position that rejects any regional and international solution of the situation there, at least until the next elections. Observers put many thrilling and terrifying scenarios for it, as long as Erdogan does not and will not give up power, no matter how much it costs him internally and externally, and in Syria in particular!
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