Nov 23 2017

Can Putin’s new teammates bring peace to Syria?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has brought together Turkey and Iran to make compromises for a settlement in Syria in which President Bashar al-Assad will remain in power, Patrick Wintour reported in The Guardian. 

Putin is also engaged in audacious telephone diplomacy with U.S. President Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the report said.

At the Sochi summit with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Putin stated:

The Syrian people will have to determine their own future and agree on the principles of their own statehood. It is obvious that the process of reform will not be easy and will require compromises and concessions from all participants, including of course the government of Syria.

What was expected from the Syrian government had already been discussed, Wintour wrote, at a bilateral meeting between Putin and Assad on Monday: Assad is expected to commit to the peace process, constitutional reform and free elections in Syria.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia November 20, 2017. Picture taken November 20, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia November 20, 2017. Picture taken November 20, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Turkey and Iran will apparently gain a reconstructed Syria from the deal, although Erdoğan has reservations over various issues – including the place of Syrian Kurds, who were instrumental in the defeat of extremist jihadist group Islamic State – in Putin’s plan for a “Syrian national dialogue congress”, Wintour said.

Turkey claims that armed Kurdish groups in Syria are linked with the armed Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. Iran also opposes the assignment of U.S. troops to Northeast Syria in support of the majority Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Syrian opposition in exile, who are currently based in Saudi Arabia, Wintour adds, are blaming Putin’s efforts for undermining the U.N. peace talks held in Geneva and negotiating a deal where Assad can remain in power despite being accused of committing war crimes.