Russia is apparently taking advantage of the American void left as a result of a power transition between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. The change of administration entails some change in foreign policy. The commotion in the White House is caused by the question of the Syria policy upon which Trump must choose a track to follow. Agreeing on a new American strategy toward Syria is the pivot that might turn Syria’s future.
US allies are hoping that Trump would be pressured by his aides into retaining anti-Assad policies based on the assumption that as soon as they accept keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power, they will lose the battle to Iran.
The article also asserts that Syria, today, is a state undergoing a power struggle where the Russians, the Iranians, and the Turks have unequal shares. As players on the battleground, they have real potential to make consequential changes.
According to the article, Turkey convinced its allies that it was capable of reaching a winning agreement with Russia, particularly following the developments in the Ankara-Moscow relations. Following the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, the two countries’ ties saw an upsurge.
Against this backdrop, Erdogan came to owe Putin. Al-Mayadeen cites an unnamed regional security head as saying that “had the Russians been 10 minutes late in informing Erdogan on the day of the coup in Turkey, he would have been killed. The Russians are the ones who tipped him on the coup and the attempt to assassinate him…” The writer of the piece, Ali Hashem, dubbed it a Russian roulette bullet.
Furthermore, he attributed a shift in the Turkish president’s stance as a result of the above factor. Allegedly, Erdogan has decided to cooperate with Russia to pay back the favour by seeking to get involved in resolving the Syrian crisis. However, he will not publically back down on his stance toward Assad. Erdogan has left this task to other officials by gradually retreating from the forefront of the confrontation. Perhaps the recent remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu— who told Hurriyet Daily News that he, among others, deems his country’s course of action with regards to Syria as faulted—are linked to this strategy.
“We have to find a political solution in Syria. And, is it important if I or someone else says ‘Assad must go?’ What matters is the Syrian people’s say,” said Cavusoglu.
Al-Mayadeen also suggests that Turkey will not impose its opinion on the table but will rather attempt to enhance the conditions. Iran, for its part, does not seem confident that they are on the right track toward a permanent resolution, the article observes.
In September, Turkey said it was “more than ready” to cooperate with Russia on a new Syrian ceasefire. The announcement came after Çavuşoğlu met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and discussed their countries’ influence in Syria.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said then that Moscow’s collaboration with Ankara on Syria was increasingly productive.
“Now, after nearly a year has passed since the cooling of relations, there is a tendency that cooperation with Turkey on the Syrian track will be constructive,” she stated.
Not all cards have been revealed. And while many remain unfolded, the players at the negotiating table seem to be taking the dialogue to a new level. However, with so many factors in the equation, it remains to be seen whether these players will be able to finally find a resolution to Syria’s conundrum, more than five years into the bloody conflict