The future of the Idlib cease-fire

ESRA KARATAŞ ALPAY
Published

Last month, an important meeting was held in Sochi by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Idlib crisis. Various discussions of political, military, trade and economic levels were reviewed throughout by the different delegations that attended the summit. Besides its betterment for Turkish-Russian bilateral ties, its biggest success was the solution found for the sake of more than three million civilians in the town. It is well-known that the Idlib area hadn't been safe until such a consensus.

Since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, millions of people have faced danger, have been displaced and become refugees in neighboring countries and within the borders of Syria itself. It is a fact that the war has placed a tremendous burden on Turkey, as it has carried the responsibility of the humanitarian crisis and allowed the tremendous number of nearly four million Syrian refugees to seek refuge in its borders. Turkey could not turn a blind eye nor build walls to prevent refugees coming into their lands like other countries. The Syrian refugee crisis could be improved by international organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and by donations from other countries, yet outside help has remained subtle.

Although the Idlib initiative was a good development on the ground, the threats of several terrorist groups such as Daesh, the PKK and its Syrian wings – the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) – are still present in the region. The consensus in the Syrian town, now, must be furthered by Turkey and Russia and also other regional powers to target terrorist elements.

Another benefit of the Idlib agreement was on preventing the possible migration exodus from the region to other countries, particularly to Europe. The civilians would certainly have fled from the bombings and if the agreement hadn't been put forward, they would have eventually reached European soil. Therefore, the European countries also need to show sufficient tangible support and even take a part in such problem-solving agreements.

The plan to form a demilitarized zone in Idlib will start on Oct. 15, promising hope to provide safety and security for local people.

Hopefully, the cease-fire in Idlib will bring a ray of hope for a peaceful Syria through securing and saving the local people from deadly threats. The sovereign borders of Syria must be respected by all the international actors as joint efforts should be made for the restoration of the country. This is what Turkey has insisted on since the start of the negotiations and peace talks. The terrorist groups that have inhabited the country and destabilized the security of Syria and neighboring countries must be cleared out. The safe zone in Idlib is a significantly important step toward a final resolution for peace in Syria and accordingly in the whole Middle East region.

* Istanbul-based freelance writer

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