The Syrian crisis may see some new developments in the upcoming days, as suggested by the recent intense diplomatic traffic of the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Earlier this week, Zarif traveled to Turkey, following a meeting with Syria's Bashar Assad. Aside from holding diplomatic talks during these visits, the Iranian foreign minister announced that he will submit a report on his meeting with Assad to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This is a new development in the crisis, which has now continued for over eight years. Another development may come in the form of Astana guarantors – Turkey, Russia and Iran – may finally urge Washington, which has largely been pushed to the sidelines in Syria, to finally take action and deliver on a number of promises, from the formation of a safe zone to a military withdrawal.
Given that Turkey has been one of the guarantor countries of the Astana process - despite divergences between Russia and Iran, mostly caused by the different stances regarding the Assad regime - such a statement would be considered the prime catalyst of its diplomatic achievements until today.
Zarif's message can also be interpreted as solid proof that all parties acknowledge Ankara's role as a catalyzing actor in an expected, sustainable political solution in Syria.
In addition, during his most recent visit to Moscow on April 8, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin underlined that a constitutional committee should be set up as soon as possible in line with the Astana process in order to accelerate the political solution to the Syrian civil war.
Similarly, the same issue was emphasized in the meeting between Zarif and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. This puts forward Moscow, Ankara and Tehran's determination to step up the process.
Therefore, the upcoming period may witness a process where the hurdles before the Syrian political solution are overcome and the benefits of the Astana Process are finally reaped.
The delayed U.S. pullout from Syria, uncertainty looming over the planned safe zone and further territorial gain by some terrorist organizations can be shown as the factors speeding up this process.
Although U.S. officials have repeatedly said they are "working toward a safe zone, free of the PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria in coordination with Turkey," there have been no concrete steps from Washington. As a matter of fact, there is also no clear information on matters such as the schedule of the withdrawal, declared by Washington last December, or the retrieval of weapons provided to the YPG.
Despite Washington's positive messages regarding Turkey's contribution to the Astana process, emphasizing its importance and soundness; the oft-repeated words and messages over the possible sanctions in retaliation to Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 air missile defense system still continues to occupy the agenda of the U.S. administration, at least in the corridors of U.S. Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon.
At the same time, the U.S. points to Turkey as the most reliable and critical country in its fight against terrorist organizations in Syria, in the post-withdrawal period, yet it also directly or indirectly limits the country's access to military capacities, something much needed for this fight, through conditional agreements.
It is crystal clear that these developments have taken the relations hostage and consumed both Ankara and Washington's energy to speed up the process on Syria.
In fact, under these conditions, there is the Astana process with Russia and Iran which promises a future and saw developments despite the disagreements over the Assad regime. On the other hand, there is also Washington that has not kept any promise given to Turkey or at least has not been showing any intention of doing so.
Considering this, Moscow and Tehran have seemingly been analyzing Washington's stalling stance, in the face of Ankara's demands and its policy pushing of Turkey to choose between the U.S. and Russia, in a very timely manner to increase diplomatic efforts.
There are no other good explanations to Zarif's Turkey visit, right after Damascus. On the one hand, there is the successful Astana process backed by the three most influential countries in the region. On the other hand, there is the U.S. cooperating with the YPG and waving a vague withdrawal schedule.
While it will seemingly be on overtime in Syria in the upcoming days; the pressure will also be increased on Washington to lay down the cards on the table. Although the purchase of S-400 may appear to have triggered a diplomatic spat between Ankara and Washington, indications of other means of tackling these issues, through the acquisition of the U.S.-made Patriot missile systems, have been slowly coming to light.
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