The last summit of the Astana process, which started in 2017 between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran and aims to bring peace to Syria, was held in Iran on July 19. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met in Tehran.
The summit was more important than ever as it coincided with Russia's military operation in Ukraine. The eyes of the whole world were on the three leaders.
We witnessed how the Orientalist comments, which were ready and full of prejudices, appeared in the Western press before the summit. Because at the summit, which many assumed only focused on the countries' struggle for influence over Syria, the three prominent actors of the process agreed on issues that directly concern the region and Europe, such as the grain corridor and Syrian refugees.
And, of course, the focus of attention on these issues was thanks to the efforts of Erdoğan. The Turkish president did not use his "trump cards" only for Turkey's national interests. As the leader of a NATO member and EU candidate country, he also became an observer of the interests of the Western bloc with his emphasis on U.N. resolutions.
Erdoğan's uncompromising attitude toward the PKK terrorist organization, its Syrian wing YPG and Daesh at the summit was not just about Turkey's national interests. Because the PKK/YPG, openly armed by the United States and some European Union countries such as France under the pretext of fighting Daesh, is one of the main causes of instability in Syria and the entire region. All regional and European countries, especially Turkey, which bears the economic, political and social burden of millions of Syrian refugees, are paying a heavy price for this chaos.
The safe zone to be created on the Syria-Turkey border, which Erdoğan has been insisting on for years, is the only way to stop immigration and, moreover, to ensure Syrians' safe return. Ankara has provided a secure return for nearly 500,000 Syrian refugees so far by building houses in the region, stimulating the economy and ensuring security. It also means that millions of potential Syrian refugees will remain where they are and not hit the roads to European soils. Considering that there are nearly 4 million potential refugees in the Syrian city of Idlib on the Turkish border is enough to understand what kind of a threat the EU and the countries face in the region.
Putin and Raisi declared that they will maintain their support for the “safe and voluntarily return of Syrian refugees to their lands,” Erdoğan emphasized. Time will tell how faithful they will be to their word.
Of course, there is also the U.S. in the equation. It is known that the U.S. administration, which gave trucks full of weapons to the YPG/PKK elements, does not aim for regional stability; on the contrary, it wants chaos. It is natural since the U.S. is not as affected by the regional migration crisis as European countries are.
Well, winter is right around the corner. Although the grain corridor will be opened and the crisis will be postponed temporarily thanks to Turkey's mediation, the energy crisis stands before us as an imminent threat. Difficult times await Europe, especially for countries like Germany, which are dependent on Russian gas. It will be more difficult for the U.S., which convinced Europe last winter with the shale and transported gas, to not lose its allies to Russia.
“Gen. Winter” is once again on the side of the Russians.
The U.S. and the EU should not forget that for the time being, neither Moscow nor Tehran can trust a leader other than Erdoğan, who has unbreakable ties with the Western bloc. They should keep in mind that they will soon need the credibility and equilibrium policy in the foreign policy of Erdoğan, who has been in the political arena for 20 years.
As Turks are affected by terrorism and immigration, we ask the U.S. and the EU to behave in an ally-worthy manner and to stop flirting with terrorist organizations while there are legitimate actors like Turkey in the region. I hope it will not be too late when they realize that this way is the most rational choice for them as well.