Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has signaled that he may soon meet with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad in an effort to broker peace. He added that the trio — consisting of foreign ministers from Turkey, Russia, and Syria — are also scheduled to hold a meeting in the near future for the first time since 2011.
Enhancing communication is the purpose of the upcoming meeting in the wake of the Russian-sponsored talks between the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers held last December in Moscow. Since the start of the Syrian war, the meeting has represented the highest level of official interaction between Ankara and Damascus so far.
In a phone call that involved Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 5, 2023, Erdogan beseeched the Syrian government to make meaningful efforts to achieve a tangible solution.
Mensur Akgun, a professor of international relations, said Ankara’s recent position on al-Assad results from shifting dynamics in the region from 11 years ago when the Arab Spring cut official communications between the two countries.
A poll indicates that there is strong support across all Turkish political parties for Erdogan to meet with Assad.
Overall 59% for, 28.9% against.
— Aron Lund (@aronlund) January 8, 2023
“As a result of Turkey’s developing special relationship with Russia, Moscow has pursued Ankara’s interests more in its relations with Syria, pressuring the Assad government in this direction,” Akgun said.
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) January 6, 2023
The Syrian conflict, which has persisted for more than a decade, has led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people, displacing millions as regional and world powers have been drawn into the conflict.
Turkey has backed Syria’s opposition since the beginning of the conflict, while Russia supported the Syrian government politically and militarily. The violence in Syria has continued to reduce in recent years, mainly because of the dialogue and coordination between Moscow and Ankara.
The agreement between Ankara and Moscow in several areas and regional issues has led to better and closer ties in recent years.
The U.S. is seeking to exploit the current crisis between Ankara and the Syrian Democratic Forces in order to prevent any form of reconciliation between Turkey and Syria. The United States sanctioned Turkey in 2017 for purchasing Russia’s S-400 defense systems.