Normalization between Ankara and Damascus seems to be at full speed. Following the trilateral meeting between the ministers of Defense of Russia, Turkey and Syria in Moscow at the end of the month of December, a similar one between the top diplomats of the three countries is reportedly in preparation.
Where will the meeting take place?
The press has been debating where the upcoming meeting will be held.
The opposition Enab Baladi has reported that the meeting could take place in Abu Dhabi, especially after the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister to Damascus.
According to a report published by the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday, there was talk of holding the tripartite meeting in Moscow (next Wednesday) in light of efforts to arrange the participation of the UAE foreign minister. The same website has quoted Turkish sources suggesting that the meeting would only occur after the return of Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from Washington, who is currently in the U.S. for the strategic council for Turkish-U.S. relations.
The opposition website Baladi News has also quoted the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, saying that the meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Syria will be held next week in Moscow.
Meeting in February?
The opposition website Enab Baladi has, however, reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that there is no specific date yet for his upcoming meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Syrian regime’s government, Faisal al-Mekdad, but it may be early February.
Cavusoglu commented, during a press conference held on Thursday, January 12, about the dates of the meeting that are being talked about in the media. He said, “Who came up with these dates? We do not understand; we have provided information before. We said that there are some date suggestions for next week, but they do not fit our schedule. We are working on suggesting new dates.”
The minister stressed that there is no specific date yet, but the tripartite meeting (in the presence of Russia) may be held as soon as possible, perhaps at the beginning of February.
In the same context, the Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen quoted Syrian sources, describing them as “high-level,” as saying that the regime refused to schedule a meeting between the Syrian and Turkish foreign ministers before the withdrawal of the Turkish army from all Syrian territory. The sources considered that Turkey has electoral goals of rapprochement with the regime. They added that Damascus is not interested in presenting this issue currently.
Turkey Wants Control over Aleppo
On the other hand, the Kurdish news agency North Press has said that in a televised interview, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief advisor, Yasin Aktay, demanded that Turkey take “full control” over Syria’s second-largest city in order to resettle half a million Syrian refugees.
“The only solution scenario in Syria is to give Turkey control over Aleppo, or rather, for Aleppo to be under the Syrian opposition’s control,” Aktay said, referring to the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA).
“If the situation in Aleppo is improved, if Turkey comes to an agreement with the Syrian regime – which I think Turkey should demand – Aleppo should be placed under Turkish control,” SOHR quotes the senior advisor as saying.
HTS Leader Says Won’t Cut Ties with Turkey
The opposition al-Souria Net has said that Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) commander Abu Muhammad al-Julani described Turkey’s rapprochement with the Assad regime as a “dangerous path,” saying it was “hostility.”
Julani’s words came during a meeting with “notables of the displaced” in Idleb governorate a few days ago, and was published by the HTS’ “Amjad” website on Wednesday.
He added that Turkey has its reasons for rapprochement with the regime, noting that this is due to two reasons, the first “related to internal elections,” and the second “the length of the Syrian war and preventing the PKK from establishing a state in eastern Syria.”
He said that HTS rejects “the Turkish path, but we must not worsen the relationship with Turkey until it reaches the stage of enmity and strife. We must be balanced so as not to have enemies around us.”