As promised, here is a sequel to my Blog Post of 20 October in which I foresaw several possible conflicts arising amongst Turkey, the Syrian government and Turkey, the major players. But yesterday, in a one on one seven-hour meeting in Sochi on the Black Sea between Putin and Erdogan, the waters were calmed and all the major players, once at serious odds, are working together, at least for now. The compromises were quite surprising and a tribute to Russian diplomacy.
Before the meeting, Russia was unhappy with Turkey and its incursion into Syria fearing ISIS would be loosed and Russia talked about intervention to stay ISIS while Syria was threatening military action against Turkey and now…..
The highlights are these:
- Kurdish-led militias – the prime target of the Turkish operation – must withdraw into Syrian territory beyond 30km from the Turkish border. Erdogan’s operation, meanwhile, will continue in a limited area – between towns of Tell Abyad and Ras al-Ayn – up to 32km inside Syrian territory.
- Other parts of the Syrian border – from Kobani to Tell Abyad and from Ras al-Ayn to the Iraqi border – are set to be controlled by the Syrian military and border guards, supported by Russian military police.
- Areas not affected by the Turkish military operation will be jointly patrolled by the Turkish military and Russian military police up to 10km deep into Syrian territory
- Assad and the Syrian government has expressed support for the memorandum, stating that the Syrian border guards are ready to work together with Russian military police.
- Putin stressed that the inevitable chaos created by the Turkish operation should not allow ISIS to escape.
While both US political parties, Democrats and Republicans, and Secretary of State Pompeo were posturing and threatening military action against Turkey, the US was finessed, again. Will the Americans now threaten to attack all three parties to the agreement, the Turks, the Syrians and the Russians?
With regard to a US role, a concluding note was added to the memorandum by Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister: ”We do not particularly look at the United States and its stance. That stance is quite variable and contradictory, and of course, the coalition led by the United States is in Syria illegally, this is well known”