As eyes turn once more to Sochi with the approach of the Putin-Erdoğan meeting, Russia continues moving forward in the Idlib area. Will there be surprises at the Sochi meeting?
Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said in a statement on Sunday that the Russian Head of State Vladimir Putin was to meet with Turkish President Erdoğan in the coming days. The main points on the agenda at that meeting, scheduled for 29 September, are expected to be Syria and Idlib.
Peskov said in his statement that the two leaders had reached an agreement on Idlib but that terror attacks were preventing the agreement from achieving its aims. He stressed that this was an unacceptable and dangerous situation and that Russia would be against moves that would make a solution in Syria more difficult.
For over a month Russian warplanes have been flying in the skies over Idlib. They have bombed a large part of Mount Zawiye and targeted a number of Turkish positions.
Political scientist and international relations expert Dr. Selah Qîrata has analysed possibilities for the meeting for ANHA.
He said Idlib would be the main subject on the agenda, stating that gangs had occupied a number of places in Syria on behalf of the Turkish army. He recalled that Turkey had occupied part of Syria in four separate operations, and indicated that a new agreement would be made at the meeting to prevent an embargo being applied to Syria.
A lot has happened in Idlib since the meeting between Erdoğan and Putin in March 2020. In the previous meeting both parties agreed to a ceasefire in Idlib, but this agreement has not been honoured. According to the agreement Turkey was to withdraw to create a 6 km security zone. The conflicts during this period [since the March 2020 meeting] have exhausted Syria;Damascus has been unable to assert its sovereignty, according to Qirata.
Qîrata said that the aim of this meeting was to co-ordinate military attacks: “I believe that the terrritory of Syria will come under the control of one state. As a state, it is destroyed and defeated. Turkish state too has gone backwards a hundred years, because its societal insfrastructure has been eliminated and this has fomented unrest. It has also fallen out with its own army because of certain plans involving Syria.”
Predicted outcomes of the Putin-Erdoğan meeting
Qîrata has made certain predictions about the meeting between Putin and Erdoğan: “No surprises or secrets will emerge from this meeting. The Syrian leader was with Putin a few days ago. Syria no longer has control of its own will as a state. It has been occupied by five different parties. It is not independent, it is forced to negotiate. It cannot make its own decisions. Damascus can do nothing without the approval of Russia and Iran, and the opposition can do nothing without the approval of Turkey.”
The reason why Iran will not be at this meeting, is the conflicts between Turkey and the US, from which Russia benefits, Qirata notes. “This is why they are having a one-to-one meeting first.”
He went on: “But neither Russia, Iran nor Turkey can do anything without seeking the opinions of certain Syrians who stand up for themselves. For example there were clearly negotiations around the Bab-Jarablus line under the control of the Diri El-Firat group, where Damascus gave up east Aleppo and allowed the attacks against Afrin.”
Astana is HQ for military operations
Regarding the later Astana summit between Russia, Turkey and Iran, Dr Qirata said: “Astana is basically a result of the earlier Lavrov-Kerry agreement. It is basically in the interests of the US. The US has given Turkey, Russia and Iran certain roles in Syria.”
According to him, the summit was being used as a planning space for coordinating attacks.
“When we turn and look we see that it is simply an headquarters, or an HQ, for military operations. Syria has been divided into four regions. When these regions are targetted, not a single bullet is fired in the other regions. The collaboration between the fronts is concealed by Astana,” he said. “If the decision is not made internationally or an international stance is not taken, it is murder.”
“The Turkish state used the armed groups in Syria, sending them to Libya and Azerbaijan. It will use the gangs it protects in Idlib just as it used those from Operation Fırat Kalkan and Operation Olive Branch. In particular, it can use them in the regions under the Autonomous Administration of North and Easty Syria (AANES).”
The Turkish state will apply military pressure to the SDF
Dr. Qirata stated that following the Damascus government’s establishment of sovereignty over the “weapons-free zones” military operations would be conducted in the occupied regions and later that they would try to move into North and East Syria.
He said that Turkey would put military pressure on the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF – the official defence force of the AANES) and that Russia would remain silent in the face of this, adding, “There could be discussions around this between Erdoğan and Russia. The main aim of the discussions is the return of the Kurds who have established regions under the AANES to the Damascus government or the Asad family.”