Finally after six years of war and hundreds of thousands of deaths, the much-awaited cease-fire has been signed. Putting aside the controversies in the details and some of the groups not participating in the cease-fire, Russia and Turkey seem to have come to a framework agreement on the future of Syria. Clearly it is a positive step to try and compensate for all the opportunities that were missed until now.
The most remarkable side of the cease-fire, which was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, was that there was no mention of Iran, which had provided the Syrian regime with weapons. Iran is one of the actors on the table for the Syria marathon in Kazakhstan's capital Astana; but its grade decreasing due to “Russia and Turkey's guarantee” led to speculations claiming that there is a difference of opinion between Tehran and Moscow. Although this situation looks logical, we shouldn't put aside the possibility of a sham fight. Former intelligence agent Putin, should be aware that it cannot hold on in Syria if it doesn't have the support of Iran.
The situation in Syria and the point it is at now, indicates to a confusion the U.S. has about its Middle Eastern politics and its lack of direction. The zigzags and contradictory moves in Syria by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is expected to hand over his position to Donald Trump in 20 days, already went down in history. The Obama administration is taking many “unfavorable” steps in regards to Israel and Russia, in order to leave a problematic Middle East to Trump. Russian diplomats being deported at the U.S. border and the U.S. adopting a negative attitude against Jewish settlers during a United Nations meeting are the latest of these moves. Trump will have to deal with many hot issues as soon as he sits in the presidential seat. Therefore, how he deals with these issues will determine how his presidential term will go.
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According to an analysis Reuters media agency announced, Syria is expected to be divided into new zones of influence. The priority of Turkey, which is still continuing a hard operation against Daesh in al-Bab, however, is to clear the region from all terrorist organizations including Daesh and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The obvious tension the two countries have experienced over this matter has certainly pushed Turkey to cooperate more with Russia.
Russia's relations with all of these organizations is not yet at the point Turkey desires. Especially Russian fighter jets deliberately not targeting Daesh points and instead only targeting the oppositions in Syria is something we all know. Moreover, we see images indicating that Daesh, the Syrian regime, Iran and Russia act together.
While Turkey continues military operations and takes diplomatic steps in the new period, it will have to focus on international powers and relations with terror organizations. Since alliances are formed and then broken up in the Middle East and every country cares about its own interests, we shouldn't be naive enough to say “Russia is now our ally, it will not take steps to the detriment of our interests.”
On the other hand, there is the issue of another tension: The “moderate opposition,” which stands against the Syrian regime, and how they can control al-Qaida and its derivatives. The question of “What is expected to happen to these groups and how will they adapt to the new period?” after the cease-fire is important for all actors in the region, particularly Turkey.
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Turkey stood by the people of Syria against a tyrant administration, and displayed an attitude that was expected of it. At the end of the road, beside the refugees it hosts, it has become a country that expresses itself in a coherent manner but does not receive support from the international arena. Thus, this rendered obligatory a common policy at the point of Russia and Syria planning its next move. The reality in the field created an environment in which the ideals could not be discussed.
We shouldn't look at the Syria issue from this perspective, as we will be pushed into the point of “admiring” Russia and Putin. If Russia is involved in Syria today, it is doing so for its own interests and benefits in the Middle East. While giving us a “role” in Syria, it is aiming to use Turkey as a leaping board for its regional politics. Just like any other country, Russia's first aim is its own interests.
Russia bombed Aleppo for months and led to the death of tens of thousands of people among the ruins. It is a country that is aligned with Iran and Assad's regime, and it ignored the needs of the Syrian people. Forgetting all this and treating Putin's administration like a “peace apostle” and beginning to hope “to found a new world with justice” while arm in arm with Russia is insulting the spirits of the innocent people who died in Syria.
While we compulsively support diplomacy with Russia to end the tragedy in Syria, we need to be alert.