Putin, Erdogan summit of converging interests – politicians

ALEPPO, Syria (North Press) – Sochi summit that brought together Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was held in tandem with Turkish threats to launch a military operation on northeast Syria, the military escalation in the region, the drone strikes that target civilians, and the military reinforcements of both Syrian government forces and the Turkish forces along with their affiliated armed opposition factions, also known as Syrian National Army (SNA).

Both Putin and Erdogan stressed, on August 5, after a long day meeting in the Russian city of Sochi, on the importance of preserving Syrian territorial integrity, and renewed their commitment to “the coordination to fight terrorism.” 

An Aleppo-based politician, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described Sochi as a summit of converging interests and inevitable intersection of interests.

He told North Press that the summit was held in exceptional circumstances for both countries, with the economic crisis that Turkey is going through, the approach of elections, the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, and the unprecedented hostility between Russia and the west.

This meeting came immediately after Tehran tripartite summit which took place two weeks ago and brought together the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey. “This is a Turkish attempt to gain a green light to launch a military operation against northeast Syria,” according to the politician.

The politician believes that despite the Russian flexible position with Turkey regarding gas line, grain export, and mediation with Ukraine case, yet Russia has a high intransigence position regarding Syrian issue. 

“Moscow, which has the lion’s share in the Syrian issue under the presence Turkey and Iran as well as the US, will never let more Turkish expansion especially in the areas of Tel Rifaat and Manbij. This is position is shared by Iran, too,” he added.

The political analyst pointed out that “It is most likely that the Russians will push Ankara to solve its problems with Damascus away from the military action.”

On Saturday, the Turkish president told reporters, during his return trip from Sochi that “Russia is interested in Turkish security concerns, but prefers that the Turkish relationship be direct with the Syrian government.”

He added that his country’s intelligence has already been working with its Syrian counterpart regarding what he called “fighting terrorism,” but “the whole point is to get results.” 

Summit overloaded with files

Bashar al-Hajj Ali, member of the Small Body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee for the opposition, said that Sochi summit was “overloaded with severe, complex, overlapping files in some positions, and contradictions in others.”

The Constitutional Committee has a Large and a Small Body: the Large Body comprises 150 members: 50 members for the government, 50 for the opposition, and 50 for civil society. While the Small Body comprises 45 members: 15 members for each party.

Al-Hajj Ali described Sochi summit as “a business and understandings in light of the escalating international circumstances that do not help achieve viable agreements or consensus, especially regarding the conflicting parties who are supported by the two major countries and each of them has its own interest.”

He pointed out that the joint or separate statements issued by the two sides of the summit “emphasize the need to maintain balance.”

Hassan al-Hariri, member of the Small body for the opposition, believed that “The meeting was not different from previous ones regarding the search for a political solution to the Syrian conflict while preserving Syria’s unity.”

The meeting “took into account the Turkish security concerns by the Russians and did not present anything new,” he noted. 

“These meetings will continue until a political solution is agreed upon in Syria,” al-Hariri added.

Reporting by George Saadeh/Ihsan Muhammad