According to Turkish diplomatic sources cited by media reports, the four-way talks on Syria scheduled for March 15th have been postponed due to technical issues. However, no further details were provided.
Based on the postponement decision, is there any connection between Damascus’ recent positions and Assad’s preconditions for reconciliation or normalization with Turkey? Did the cancellation result from Moscow’s attempt to organize a surprise bilateral meeting between Assad and Erdogan in the presence of Putin, which Tehran objected to and obstructed at the last minute because it was unaware of the meeting or had no role in facilitating it?
Did the four assistant foreign ministers, whose names were announced, attend the Quartet meeting in Moscow, or did they leave without any meeting taking place? Is it possible that an unofficial meeting took place in the back rooms of the Russian Foreign Ministry building, which was not announced due to the preferences of the participating parties?
Given the current local and regional circumstances, Assad knows that his proposal for Turkish withdrawal from Syrian territory requires meeting multiple demands to satisfy Ankara. These demands include the withdrawal of foreign forces and militias near the Turkish-Syrian border, the resolution of the SDF’s weapons issue, and ending the practice of utilizing the ISIS card in eastern Syria, which may lead to instability and conflict.
Regarding his potential meeting with the Turkish president, mediated by Russia or Iran, Assad emphasized that the primary objective is Turkey’s full withdrawal from Syrian territory and restoring the situation to its state before the Syrian civil war.
Who or what entity pressured Assad to adopt a highly provocative stance now? Is it Moscow, with whom he seeks to strengthen strategic coordination and attract investments into Syria? Or is it Tehran which has joined the tripartite table in Moscow and is pushing for a quartet meeting? Alternatively, could it be his recent outreach to certain Arab capitals that have been communicating with him under the guise of providing humanitarian aid following the earthquake?
Alternatively, is Assad considering the possibility of political change in Turkey after the elections and the opposition’s rise to power, which may provide him with a favourable outcome? In conclusion, it is challenging to establish a direct correlation between Assad’s recent statements and conditions towards Ankara and the decision to postpone the Quartet meeting. Assad’s stance primarily relates to his conditions for a potential meeting with President Erdogan. In contrast, the Quartet meeting pertains to the political trajectory in Syria, which is shaped by Russia and Iran’s participation.
Alternatively, could it be Moscow that directed Assad to escalate tensions with Ankara, resulting in the postponement of the Quartet meeting at the last minute? It is possible that Moscow’s actions were prompted by the recent Turkish-American discussions on Syria after Ibrahim Kalin, advisor to the Turkish president, visited Washington and spoke about the importance of adhering to UN resolutions on Syria.
Is Assad attempting to manipulate the upcoming Turkish elections to his advantage by taking a hardline stance against Erdogan and the AKP leadership? Alternatively, could Moscow decide to react to Ankara’s pro-Western policies and its support for Finland’s membership in the Atlantic alliance by inciting Bashar al-Assad to take a more confrontational approach, resulting in the postponement of the Quadripartite summit? Moscow may have decided to delay the summit until after the upcoming Turkish elections on May 14th.
Assad is happy with what is happening around him, and there is an attempt to float him, but he does not know if the goal is to facilitate his departure or keep him.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.