The Turkish-Syrian rapprochement is back on the surface after the meeting between Turkey’s Foreign Minister Cavusoglu and Secretary of State Blinken in Washington. On the other hand, the military threats have come back, and the Kurds in northeast Syria are still concerned about that. Syria, in the meanwhile, is angry because of the U.S. meddling in the Syrian media.
Syria Apprehensive of Washington’s ‘Misleading of Public Opinion’
Syria affirmed that the information about the US funding millions of dollars to suspicious media outlets with the aim of distorting the image of the Syrian state reflects the American insistence on continuing to mislead local, regional and international public opinion and exposes the continuation of the American attack targeting Syria’s sovereignty and interfering in its internal affairs, SANA reported.
“Such projects run by the U.S. State Department aim to cover up the crimes of the United States in Syria, its protection of terrorists and separatists, and its theft of Syrian resources, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said on Twitter.
The ministry added that the US supports such schemes under the pretext of fighting media disinformation while there is no doubt that the U.S. has been practising disinformation, as in Iraq, Libya, and other countries, and the terrorist war on Syria as well as breaching the human rights in the world.
Blinken, Çavuşoğlu meet in Washington
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington D.C, to discuss bilateral relations, including the sale of F-16 fighter jets, and regional issues.
According to the Anadolu news agency, the pair sat down together in the US capital as part of Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism meetings.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Cavusoglu said they would address “significant topics” in bilateral defence cooperation, particularly Türkiye’s F-16 request.
He said the jets’ sale is crucial not only for Türkiye but also for NATO and the U.S.
“So we expect approval (of the sales) in line with our joint strategic interests,” said Cavusoglu.
The United States has proposed to launch a new study and cooperation with Turkey on Syria, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, reiterating that this can be possible only after the former gains Turkey’s confidence by keeping the promises it gave in the past years.
Turkish Hurriyet reported that the main titles discussed between Çavuşoğlu and Blinken were the Syrian conflict, the U.S.’ continued support to the YPG, Turkey’s request for buying 40 new F-16s and NATO’s expansion with Sweden and Finland were among the top issues.
On Syria, Çavuşoğlu said the U.S. side had proposed cooperation and engagement with Turkey, a development that comes after Turkey and Syria launched talks with the mediation of Russia.
“In order to cooperate on Syria and other issues, we told them today that our confidence has been tarnished because the U.S. did not keep its earlier promises,” Çavuşoğlu said, referring to deals between the two countries for the withdrawal of the YPG off 30 kilometres from the Turkish borders.
Paper Advises Assad not be Stuck in the Past
At the same time, The Daily Sabah explained that Russia and Iran are not bothered by Ankara’s relations with Damascus; Turkey has developed its relations with Russia due to Ankara’s mediative role in negotiations related to the Ukraine war.
The past is the past, the paper said. Think about what Turkey and Russia went through. In Ankara, Moscow had Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov killed by a member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) disguised as a police officer. Turkey shot down Russia’s plane. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Erdoğan later realized they were caught in a cycle of mutual frustration.
Assad, who is stuck in his capital, has a hard time understanding what is going on. Otherwise, he would have realized that he is playing into the hands of the U.S., which strongly opposes the dialogue of third countries with Damascus, by slowing down the negotiations with Turkey, which is fighting the PKK/YPG carrying out the “oil looting” on the field.
Turkey-Syria Thawing Ties Could Lead To Migration Of Millions – Ilham Ahmed
In the meantime, the SDF and SDC are still concerned of imminent Turkish escalation.
Ilham Ahmed, President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), said on Thursday that more than 10 million Syrians in northern Syria refuse to reconcile with the Syrian government and are likely to migrate en masse.
Ahmed told North Press that she does not expect the recent Turkish policy to have positive outcomes that would lead to a solution to the Syrian crisis.
In December 2022, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, met with Syrian defence minister Ali Mahmoud Abbas and Syrian intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk in the Russian capital under the gaze of Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.
It marked the first official meeting between Turkey and Syria since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
Days later, in the northern Aleppo Governorate, cities and towns under Turkish-backed Syrian opposition factions, also known as the Syrian National Army (SNA), witnessed week-long protests under the slogan “We will not reconcile.”
“Turkey and the Syrian government seek to reconcile at the expense of both the Turkish and Syrian peoples,” Ahmed added.
The reconciliation is likely Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ploy to influence the Turkish presidential elections, but it really aborts the democratic project in Syria, according to Ahmed.
Normalization between the two parties may worsen the Syrian crisis, she said.
The official noted that “the intelligence and security relations between the Syrian and Turkish regimes were not interrupted throughout the years of the Syrian crisis.”
“Now there are ongoing efforts for political reconciliation between the two parties, which definitely will reinforce the domination of autocratic regimes in the two countries,” she added.
Regarding to the stance of guarantor states [the US and Russia] towards Turkish threats to launch a ground military operation on northern Syria, Ahmed said that they stressed that “there will be no action that may destabilize the region and its safety.”
Opposition Eyes New Path As Syrian-Turkish Rapprochement Looms
Political observers and civil activists in Syria are in agreement over the likely fate of the Syrian opposition-held areas in the northwest of the country should Turkey’s recent policy of normalization with the Syrian government come to fruition.
Should a normalization take place, the armed Syrian opposition factions (also known as the Syrian National Army, or SNA) will likely be classified into three categories, Syrian political writer Ahmad al-Durzi tells According to Kurdish news agency North Press.
The first category includes the foreign nationals in northwestern Syria, otherwise known as the ‘jihadists’, from regions such as China’s Xinjiang, the Caucasus and Chechnya. This category will be pushed out of Syria, or they will remain under house arrest in Turkey, al-Durzi told North Press.
The second category, comprising the opposition members who have been active militants, will be either obliterated or expelled from the country, al-Durzi added.
As for those who had no choice but to join the civil or military opposition institutions – the ‘third category’ – they will be able to return to their homes after the reconciliation agreement.
The writer alleges that Turkey is behind recent military attacks carried out by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) in the de-escalation zone in northwestern Syria.
He explained that Turkey is forcing the Syrian government to make a tough choice: normalization with Turkey or ongoing clashes with opposition forces.
On January 10th, HTS carried out an infiltration operation against Syrian government forces under the slogan ‘we will not reconcile’ – a response to recent normalization efforts between Ankara and Damascus.
The source stressed that the operation, which was carried out in the Aleppo Governorate, was a practical rejection of that process. Al-Jolani, the leader of HTS, himself stressed that his group had prepared itself for “coming hard days” without further clarification.
Radwan al-Atrash, an oppositionist political activist, said that the areas extending from southern Idleb to Jarabulus were “liberated” by the blood and sweat of opposition forces.
“Turkey does not have any right to seek its interests with any regime in the world by ignoring the Syrian sacrifices,” he added.