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Turkish-Syrian Rapprochement… Blown Away by the Northeastern Winds

Syrian President Bashar Assad rapprochement with Turkish Erdogan

The complex facts of the Syrian crisis indicate that it will move to a more complex stage with the approval of President Erdogan, who believes that this complexity will be in his interest and will increase the strength of his bargaining chips in Syria, Iraq, and Libya.

The following is the English translation from Arabic of the latest article by Turkish career journalist Husni Mahali he published in the Lebanese Al-Mayadeen news site Al-Mayadeen Net:

Contrary to President Erdogan, President al-Assad did not talk about the possibilities of reconciliation with Ankara, and everyone knows that it is the most important party, if not the only one that can decide the fate of the Syrian crisis.

Contrary to his previous statements in which he spoke about the possibility of reconciliation with President al-Assad through Russian mediation, President Erdogan adopted a new tactic in his statements last week, when he said, “It was he who asked President Putin to bring him together with President al-Assad after a series of meetings between intelligence officials and the foreign and defense ministers,” in a new maneuver to block the internal and external pressures aimed at ending the Syrian crisis.

In the absence of information from the Syrian and Russian sides regarding the progress of the Russian mediation process, the Turkish media witnessed an exciting debate on this issue, as the pro-Erdogan media accused the leader of the Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, of “conspiring against his country,” this was done through a message (Kilicdaroglu) sent to President Al-Assad, calling on him not to reconcile with Erdogan and to wait for the next elections, promising him to withdraw the Turkish army from northern Syria and provide financial compensation to Damascus if they assume power.

The Republican People’s sources denied this information and said, “Damascus did not care about the request made by Kemal Kilicdaroglu‘s adviser to visit Syria and meet with Syrian officials,” this was said by the advisor to the leader of the “Good Party” Meral Aksener, who “in turn was surprised by this position of Damascus at a time when it is in dire need of Turkish solidarity with it against President Erdogan’s policies.”

Everyone knows that Erdogan does not want the opposition to exploit the Syrian refugee issue with all its consequences in the electoral campaign for which he mobilized all the capabilities of the Turkish state after he was forced to reconcile with Riyadh, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, and Tel Aviv, forgetting everything he said about their leaders in the past years.

At a time when everyone knows that Erdogan does not and will not take any practical step towards reconciliation with President Assad, except after he is exposed to serious pressure from Arab capitals, which he also knows very well that they are still against Damascus for reasons known to everyone, the most important of which is the Syrian alliance with Iran and Hezb Allah.

Since Erdogan is not and will not be in a hurry to take practical steps to reconcile President Assad, as long as he is not under serious pressure from President Putin. The prevailing opinion in the Turkish street is that Moscow supports Erdogan and provides him with all financial assistance (Moscow sells gas to Turkey on credit deferred to 2024) to ensure his survival in power, and this is what Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Doha are striving for, which are racing to cover the large deficit in the Turkish Central Bank and its hard currency reserves, which have exceeded $60 billion.

During these calculations, Erdogan did not neglect the Kurdish element internally, in Syria and regionally, as long as the “Democratic Peoples’ Party”, which is the political wing of the PKK, will decide the fate of the elections in which the candidate who will be voted for by the Kurdish voters, who number about 6 million, will win.

Most important of all, capitals in the region and abroad, the most important of which is Washington, set a number of calculations for the sake of these Kurds as long as they will move according to the instructions of the PKK, and everyone knows that it has many calculations in Syria and northern Iraq, and now in western Iran, which is of interest to Washington and its allies. In the region and beyond, if not with their direct or indirect support.

Ankara sees the American, Western and Israeli presence in the east of the Euphrates as an additional element that supports its calculations in bargaining with Damascus, which does not want to remain between the jaws of the Turkish pincers from the north and the American ones from the east. This will prevent it from seriously bargaining with President Erdogan, and everyone knows that he does not think of withdrawing from Syria except within the framework of a regional and international deal that meets all his conditions and demands, the most important of which is ensuring his survival in power.

All these complex facts lead the Syrian crisis to a more complex stage with the approval of President Erdogan, who believes that this complexity will be in his interest and will increase the strength of the bargaining chips he possesses in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and through them together, in the region in general. These facts may encourage President Erdogan to reject President Assad’s demands and conditions, and meeting them is not easy at all, as Erdogan will lose the most important elements of the strength he has achieved in recent years, especially after the Russian-American approval of Turkish forces entering Syria on August 24, 2016.

This military and psychological superiority were sufficient for Erdogan to exploit it to extend his control over Libya, Somalia, and Iraq, and it also helped him to impose the historical Turkish national vision in the Islamic republics of Turkish origin in Central Asia and the Caucasus, which is the backyard of Russia that now finds itself forced to monitor the Turkish role in these republics.

All of this satisfies Washington, if not indirectly encouraged by it, which will welcome anyone who annoys Moscow, which everyone knows does not want to disturb President Erdogan, despite all his “satisfactory” positions to President Putin, especially in the Ukrainian war. It seems clear that it is preventing Moscow from pressuring Ankara to reconcile with Damascus according to the Syrian conditions and demands, and without it, it will not be easy for President Assad to meet with President Erdogan and convince the Syrian people of that, with the continuation of Turkish interference in every small and large matter in Syria, and Erdogan has previously said that it is “a Turkish internal matter!”

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