Talk of a Syrian-Turkish rapprochement has subsided following the postponement of the meeting between the foreign ministers of Syria, Turkey, and Russia. Over this period, Turkish officials have stopped issuing statements about the fate of this process and the extent of its seriousness.
Yet Professor of International Relations Dr. Bassam Abu Abdullah stressed, in a dialogue seminar attended by Athr Press, that Turkey’s insistence on becoming closer to Damascus is not a tactical decision. Rather, he indicated that this path is serious and that the lack of discussion around it does not signal its end.
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In an interview with Athr Press, Abu Abdullah pointed out that Syrian-Turkish talks are continuing through the joint committees that have been formed between the two sides. He said that Damascus will not provide free gifts to Ankara; at the same time, it does not oppose rapprochement, provided that Turkish forces withdraw from the occupied Syrian territories and stop supporting “terrorism.” As for holding official meetings, Abu Abdullah stressed that Syria is waiting for Turkey to take practical steps in that direction.
In this regard, Abu Abdullah pointed out that Turkey is heading to reopen the M4 road, noting at the same time that opening this road requires many steps in light of the deployment of militants of Tahrir al-Sham (HTS — Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies) near the road. He indicated that HTS is doing everything possible to obstruct the Turkish-Syrian rapprochement.
On the possibility of the United States obstructing Turkish-Syrian rapprochement, Abu Abdullah stressed that Washington fiercely opposes these closer relations. This is because Turkey cannot step out from under the “American umbrella” at all. Ankara does, however, enjoy a margin of maneuvering to protect its interests.
During the seminar, Abu Abdullah also touched on the rumoured possibility of holding a meeting between the Turkish and Russian presidents in Abu Dhabi. He described those discussions as merely media speculation, adding that such a meeting — if it takes place — will take place in Moscow.
Abu Abdullah stressed that the decision to get closer to Syria was taken by the Turkish security and military establishment. He pointed out that this institution has become convinced that the previous Turkish policy towards Syria is no longer feasible.
Abu Abdullah added that, throughout the duration of the Syrian war, Turkey has not been able to find an alternative to Syria to access Gulf markets. At the same time, he pointed out that the restoration of relations between Syria and Turkey bears mutual economic benefits through border gates and transit trade between Europe and the Gulf countries, in addition to benefiting from Eastern Mediterranean gas reserves.
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.