Sources in both Ankara and Tehran confirmed news circulated about secret negotiations between officials in the Assad regime and Turkish figures, and that these negotiations could end in a reconciliation between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of changes in Ankara’s policy toward Syria.
The sources revealed that the one steering these negotiations from the Turkish side is Ismail Hakki, a prominent Turkish diplomat and a retired general overseeing the Adana Agreement signed between Syria and Turkey in 1998 during the crisis of the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Abdullah Ocalan, who has been imprisoned on the Turkish island of Imrali for the last 17 years.
General Hakki also previously held the position of deputy chief of Turkish intelligence and was imprisoned from 2011 to 2013 after being accused of involvement in the failed Ergenekon coup conspiracy. He is currently deputy chief of the Turkish leftist Patriotic Party, which is headed by Dogu Perincek, who previously said that relations between Turkey and Russia would return to normal and that there were negotiations underway between figures from the two countries with Iranian mediation, and who has preserved his relations with the Bashar al-Assad regime despite the Syrian crisis which led to tensions in relations with Turkey.
The sources said that Hakki had visited Damascus at the same time as other meetings in Algeria in May carried out by another retired general, and that Hakki met with a number of high-level officials in Damascus, including the second man in the Baath Party, Abdullah al-Ahmar, and the head of the Syrian National Security Office, Ali Mamlouk, as well as the Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, and his deputy Faisal Mikdad. The sources said that Ankara no longer rejected Assad remaining in power, but it did reject the division of Syria and the formation of a federalist system, which the Kurds are trying to achieve in Syria.
The sources alluded to the possibility that Turkish President Erdogan could lighten the severity of his tough stance against Assad, on the condition of his cooperation in preventing the establishment of any Kurdish entity in northern Syria, as alleged by the newspaper.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.