Reports on the upcoming meeting between the foreign ministers of Turkey, Syria, and Russia continue to be discussed as Ankara suddenly demanded Turkish control over Aleppo as an “optimal solution” to the issue of Syrian refugees.
Iran also entered the path of rapprochement between Ankara and Damascus.
Sources close to the governments of Ankara and Damascus said that a date still needs to be set for the foreign ministers’ meeting.
Turkish sources suggested that the meeting would only occur after the return of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from Washington, who is currently in the US for the strategic council for Turkish-US relations.
Informed sources told Hurriyet daily that the foreign ministers’ meeting is set to be determined, expecting it to be held within a few weeks.
They stated that the meetings and talks between Turkey and the Syrian regime would be among the topics for discussion during the meetings of the Strategic Council and between the Turkish delegation and US officials.
Washington rejected any rapprochement with the Bashar al-Assad regime and reminded parties that seek normalization of its human rights violations.
The sources explained that immediate results could not be expected from the meetings with the regime, given that the sensitive issues, including combating terrorism, referring to ending the presence of the Kurdish People’s Defense Units, the largest component of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), near the Turkish border.
The talks also discussed humanitarian aid and the voluntary and safe return of Syrian refugees following a possible meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad.
The sources pointed out that despite the difficult political and military issues, the tripartite meeting between the defense ministers and the heads of the intelligence services of Turkey, Russia, and Syria in Moscow last December, created the impression that the complex issues could be overcome.
Hurriyet said that the option of Turkey conducting a ground operation against the SDF in northern Syria is still on Ankara’s agenda, which closely monitors developments and maintains readiness for all possible scenarios.
Informed sources told media outlets affiliated with the Syrian regime that there was still no specific date for the talks between the foreign ministers, saying it was linked to the results of the meeting of “competent committees” formed after the meeting of the defense ministers in Moscow.
– Iran’s involvement
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani announced that President Ebrahim Raisi would visit Turkey and Syria.
Kanaani pointed out that the relations between Tehran and Damascus are at the highest level and that Iran supports Syria’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, as iterated in the phone call between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and his Syrian counterpart Faisal Mekdad.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said last Tuesday that Raisi would visit Ankara in the coming weeks, the first visit of an Iranian president to the country in about four years.
He said the planned visit was postponed due to “certain reasons,” adding that the protocols are being discussed between the two sides, and the visit will take place in the coming weeks.
Former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Ankara in mid-2019 to participate in a summit between the leaders of Iran, Russia, and Turkey to consult on the Syrian crisis.
The last visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Tehran was last July.
– Internal division
Signs of internal division surfaced in Turkey in the media close to the government and the opposition regarding rapprochement and normalization with the Assad regime.
The opposition believed it was the first to discuss the normalization issue with the Assad regime considering Turkey’s security and the solution to the Syrian refugee problem.
Opposition media also noted that its pressure led to the involvement of Erdogan’s government in this issue. But they indicated that the President would take advantage of these steps to boost his chances in the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for next June.
Media outlets loyal to the ruling Justice and Development party seem reluctant to support rapprochement with the Assad regime after they have been attacking it for 11 years, describing it as “a murderer and an oppressor.”
It also adopted preemptive attempts to hold the regime responsible for any stumbling or failure of rapprochement and normalization efforts.
The media also focused on the opposition of the United States and Iran to Turkey’s normalization with the regime, which some observers saw as an attempt to show that there is a division in the “Russia-Iran-Syria” axis.
Meanwhile, Osman Sirte of Karar newspaper, affiliated with the Democracy and Progress party, headed by Ali Babacan, and the Future party, led by Ahmet Davutoglu, questioned Erdogan’s intentions regarding the rapprochement.
Sirte asserted that no one opposes the rapprochement between Turkey and Syria but questioned Erdogan’s methods.
He explained that there is no reason to persuade the refugees to return to Syria because even the Syrians who live in their country are suffering from an economic crisis, adding that nothing can guarantee that if the Turkish army withdraws from northern Syria, civilians will not find a way into Turkey.
The journalist believed the Syrian regime’s participation in the fight against the People’s Defense Units was unrealistic.
However, journalist of Daily Sabah Melih Altinok said the refugee problem is pressuring Turkey, and the reconciliation with Damascus and Erdogan’s talk of close meetings at a high level indicate that the return of Syrian refugees to their country would accelerate in the coming weeks.
– A sudden demand
Former Turkish president Yasin Aktay came out with a surprising demand, saying the best solution to return millions of Syrian refugees to their country is for Aleppo to be under Turkey’s control.
Aktay said in an interview on the Turkish “Ulke” channel that Turkish control over Aleppo would reduce the number of Syrian refugees in Turkey, noting the power of the Assad regime and Russia over Aleppo after horrific massacres led to a significant movement towards Turkey.
The official pointed out that the current discussions of the Syrian refugees’ issue do not address the quality of life in Syria or the human rights situation.
Aktay believed Erdogan expected the government to send the refugees immediately and without hesitation to their country, without considering the fate they could face back home.
This article was 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.