ANALYSIS:  Prospects of peace emerge between  Turkey and Syria

Prospects of peace between Turkey and Syria emerge suddenly, as the leaders of both nations express a new willingness to engage diplomatically.  The issues hindering permanent peace constitute a long list, but renewed diplomatic contact is extremely precious, because  final peace agreement would offer so many rewards for Erdogan and Assad.


According to AP, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that there is no obstacle preventing Turkey and Syria from restoring diplomatic ties that were cut off at the start of the Syrian civil war more than a decade ago.


His comments came just days after Syrian President Bashar Assad made similar remarks, indicating a willingness among the two neighboring countries to end tensions and normalize relations.


“There is no reason why (diplomatic ties) should not be established,” Erdogan told reporters.


Assad received Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Special Envoy for Syria Alexander Lavrentiev in Damascus on Wednesday and expressed his “openness to all initiatives related to the relationship between Syria and Turkey, which are based on the sovereignty of the Syrian state over its entire territory,” according to a statement from his office.


Turkey severed ties with Syria after the Syrian civil war in 2011 and backed rebels seeking to topple Assad. Turkey has carried out several cross-border military operations against extremists it says threaten its national security and has formed a “safe zone” in northern Syria.


Turkey has indicated that it may restore ties with Damascus if there is progress on the fight against terrorism, the safe and voluntary return of millions of refugees hosted by Turkey and on the political process.



Recently, Turkey’s main opposition leader Mr Ozgur Ozel (CHP) stated his willingness to travel to Damascus as the Turkish envoy to explore opportunities for compromise with Assad, to which Erdogan seemed to agree.


Attempts at reconciliation between Syria and Turkey have not yielded any results as yet.


In May last year, the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran, Turkey and Syria met in Moscow for the first time since the start off the war but the roadmap set out to improve relations failed to bring progress.


Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said any dialogue between his country and Turkey should only take place after Ankara announces a plan to withdraw its troops from all Syrian territory.

Turkey currently occupies a swathe of territory around her border with Syria stretching from the contested province of Idlib in the west to several Kurdish townships to the East of the Euphrates River.  The divided Idlib will probably pose the biggest challenge to a peace agreement, because the withdrawal of Turkish Army and its proxy Syrian rebels could trigger yet another exodus of Assad-wary refugees to Turkey.


On the other hand, without control of Idlib  Assad can’t even claim full control of the Western portion of is country, where most of the population resides and economic activity takes place.


It is believed the Kurdish areas to the East of Euphrates River are less important to him, but it is certainly to the benefit of both sides if the dominant political/military entity in the region PYD-YPG can be dissuaded from forming a state and declaring autonomy.


At the end, Turkey hopes to repatriate a good portion of the 8 million Syrian refugees, who are causing massive and social upheaval. Assad wants to declare final victory and begin rebuilding his war-torn and economically bankrupt country.


So far, both side agreed to the opening of a new border gate, but no date for any high-level diplomatic meeting has been scheduled.


Russia is expected to play the lead mediator role in any potential Erdogan-Assad contact.



Various press sources, PA Turkey Staff


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.