Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be welcomed in Ankara by Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan on September 11. It will mark the second tim
Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be welcomed in Ankara by Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan on September 11. It will mark the second time this year that the trio has met to discuss their involvement in Syria – but it is thought that their cooperation could expand into a strategic alliance for future geopolitical affairs. The three nations have all stepped up their role in the Syrian Civil War since 2017 after agreeing to liaise – thereby sidelining the Trump administration.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed that an official alliance was in the works.
He added: “The work is almost over, we are one step away from finalising efforts to create a Syrian constitutional committee.
“As of now, I cannot say if it will be possible to do it by the Ankara meeting.”
He was echoed by Russia’s special envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentyev, who claimed that the meeting “would discuss all aspects of the Syrian crisis”.
The three amigos have sidelined Trump
The three are guarantors of the Astana peace talks
The trio are sponsors of the ongoing Astana peace process which aims to get both the Syrian Government and opposition to the negotiating table.
With the first round of talks held in January 2017, further discussions held in the Kazakhstani city in August represented the 13th round of negotiations.
While the government and opposition appear to be in deadlock, the move towards an official committee could be a signal that Putin is planning to put his new alliance at the centre of the conflict and benefit from the aftermath.
Correspondent Simon Speakman Cordall said: “For many Western observers, the Astana process was considered a bid by Putin to stake his claim to a central seat at the diplomatic table as the conflict in Syria drew down.”
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Erdogan initially tried to topple Assad
Russia is aiming to have a permanent position in Syria after the war as it seeks to counter US hegemony in the region, according to former US Ambassador William Courtney.
He said: “The Kremlin must pressure the Assad regime to cooperate, thus, to some extent, jeopardising its relationship with Damascus, including its hopes for a ‘great power’ role in Syria and permanent naval and air bases there.”
Though Syrian President Bashar al-Assad looked vulnerable at one point in the Civil War, support from Russia and Iran has kept the leadership afloat.
The majority of the nation is now under government control.
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Russia has supported Assad
The three may form an official alliance
Turkey entered the fray over a dispute with Washington about Kurdish presence in northern Syria.
Erdogan accuses the US-backed YPG, which operate in Syria, of having links to the PKK, which launched an armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984.
A tentative agreement over a proposed ‘safe zone’ to withdraw YPG fighters was agreed just days after Erdogan threatened to unilaterally invade the nation.
Russia and Iran have allied closely in the Middle East – now Turkey may be in on the act
Turkey and Russia have been growing closer since Ankara’s decision to purchase Moscow’s S-400 missiles over US Patriot ones.
Turkey has also stood behind another of Russia’s allies, Venezuela, as the foundations of an alliance begin to take shape.
Middle Eastern expert Blaise Misztal highlighted the importance of Turkey in the ongoing power struggle between the China-Russia-Iran axis and the US.
Trump may lament this arrangement
He told the New York Post: “Never since the end of the Cold War has Washington had greater need of a strong partnership with Turkey.
“Its strategic location, military strength, (still extant) republican political institutions and historical connections to contested regions make it an invaluable asset amid threats from China, Russia and Iran.”
Though Iran and Turkey have clashed in the past, the two began reconciling in 2016 and have seen eye-to-eye on issues such as counter-terrorism and opposing Saudi Arabia.