TEHRAN(Basirat): Moscow, Turkey and Iran are all sending symbolic messages to Washington that the Americans are out in the cold and the post-ISIS era may well be dictated by regional powers.
Turkish, Russian and Iranian diplomats will meet in Antalya on Sunday in
the run-up to a major get-together in Sochi on November 22. The meeting
is supposed to focus on Syria, but its real purpose is part of a larger
effort by Moscow to illustrate its influence in the region.
Moscow, Turkey and Iran are all sending symbolic messages to Washington
that the Americans are out in the cold and the post-ISIS era may well be
dictated by regional powers, Jpost reported.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the meeting was intended
to find out "how we can restore stability and peace in Syria.”
According to Hurriyet Daily News, the foreign ministers from Moscow,
Ankara and Tehran will meet in Antalya, followed a few days later by a
meeting in Sochi between Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan
Rouhani that is being billed as a "trilateral summit.”
Turkish officials, this year, have been increasingly critical of US policy.
Erdogan accused the US of not keeping its promises regarding the
withdrawal of its partnered forces, YPG and SDF from areas taken from
"Unfortunately, the current administration also tells us it is in
cooperation with the SDF, the new name of the YPG. They shouldn’t do
We were here before them and we know perfectly well who is who in this region,” Erdogan said.
In comments that reflect the official Turkish view, Ibrahim Kalin, a
special adviser to the Turkish president, wrote in the Daily Sabah:
"There is growing assessment that the US is using both Daesh and the YPG
as an excuse to remain in eastern Syria as a potential counter-weighing
force against the Russian-Iranian presence.”
Turkey sees the YPG as the "Syrian branch” of the Kurdistan Worker’s
Party (PKK) and, thus, a terrorist organization. In his piece, Kalin
referenced claims that the US-led coalition and SDF allowed hundreds of
ISIS fighters and their families to leave Raqqa in October.
"[This shows] once again the utter poverty of the policy of having one terrorist organization fight another,” he wrote.
Kalin says Turkey demands that "Syria’s territorial integrity must be
maintained” and that foreign fighters for the regime and the YPG must
leave Syria: "A transitional government should be established to include
all Syrian stakeholders and prepare the ground for free and fair
He argues that the YPG "cannot be part of any political solution,” and
that Assad "is not the person to lead Syria to a democratic and
all-inclusive rule.” The meeting in Sochi is supposed to address these
issues, alongside the talks that have taken place in Astana and Geneva.
The Russians, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, see the
summit as including the "guarantors of the process of political
settlement and stability and security that we see now in Syria.”
The Sochi meeting comes just a week and a half after Putin met US President Donald Trump in Danang, Vietnam.
"The presidents agreed that there is no military solution to the
conflict in Syria,” a joint statement read on November 11. The statement
called for the implementation of UNSCR 2254, which would involve
constitutional reform and "free and fair elections under UN
The statement emphasized the importance of communication in eastern
Syria between US and Russian forces and "deconfliction” efforts. It also
mentioned the southwest Syrian cease-fire agreed to with Jordan.
It was a practical statement, whereas the Sochi meeting is seen to be an
important diplomatic step with wider regional implications.
Russia, Iran and Turkey all differ on the Syrian conflict, but over the
last year it appears their relationship has trended toward a more
harmonious one and the Americans have been left out in the cold.
Turkey and Iran grew closer over the Qatar crisis in July and over the
Kurdistan independence referendum in northern Iraq in September. Turkey
and Russia also surmounted the crises of the 2015 shooting down of a
Russian Su-24 by Turkey.
The Trump administration faces political problems at home over the
relations his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had with
Turkey and his former campaign chair Paul Manafort had with pro-Russian
elements in Ukraine. This, to some extent, ties his hands on relations
with Moscow and Ankara.
In addition, Ankara is outraged at the increasing presence of the US in
eastern Syria and inferences that it intends to stay for the long term.
Trump already has rolled out a robust policy to confront Iran in the
region, a policy that, as yet, has no practical elements to it but is
thought to have empowered the Saudis in their moves in Lebanon and the
What the Americans don’t have is a post-ISIS strategy for Iraq, Syria and the region.
The trilateral summit enshrines the inability of US strategy to make
headway. Iran, an enemy of the US is sitting with Turkey, a NATO ally,
alongside Russia. Washington’s allies in eastern Syria should be