Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met this week in Ankara to discuss Syria. This is the fifth trilateral summit on Syria. During the talks, all three parties maintained their previous positions on the situation in Idlib, which is being carefully monitored. While Turkey voiced concerns about the humanitarian situation in the city and the wave of migration that the regime's possible operations could create, Russia reiterated its discourse that the regime's army is fighting terrorism. It was quite interesting that Putin quoted Quranic verses that preach peace. However, resolving the disputes over the creation of a constitutional commission at the last meeting was important enough to overshadow other details.
By taking this step, the guarantors of the Astana process made it clear that they care more about a political solution in Syria, compared to military alternatives.
This is because it will take years to rebuild Syria politically and physically, even if the rebuilding process started today. It is not easy to predict how long the normalization and adjustment processes will take in Syria, which has caused the largest migration wave in world history.
Meanwhile, the steps taken by the Bashar Assad regime before the summit might be signs of his will for reconciliation, in a country that is currently divided into four parts – the safe zones opened by Turkey, the areas dominated by the opposition and the east of the Euphrates controlled by U.S.-backed People's Protection Units (YPG), the PKK's Syrian affiliate.
Although Assad's decree on amnesty and reduced sentences, announced just before the summit in Ankara, is not very inclusive, it is crucial in terms of reflecting Damascus' attitude against the will of the summit in Turkey. It is also notable that the YPG was identified as a terrorist group. Turkey, Russia, France and Germany are expected to convene a four-party summit on Syria in Istanbul in the coming days.
Yes, the U.S. is not involved in any of these processes. Indeed, Washington continues to intervene in the Syria question over YPG terrorists irrespective of so many legitimate regional players and its old ally Turkey. What is worse, even they admit that the fight against Daesh, which was cited as a justification to cooperate with these secular terrorists, is over. The safe zone that the U.S. has established with Turkey in northern Syria is far from achieving Ankara's goal of keeping mass migration movements within the country's borders.
This fire, that has been going on for eight years, that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives, that has reduced half of the country's population to refugees and pushed the surrounding countries, even Europe, to the edge, will not last forever.
However, it is certain that U.S. presence and legitimacy in the region will be far more undermined at the end of this process.