This article suggests that Turkey’s Syria policy is changing, driven by two factors. The first is Iran and Russia’s commitment to supporting Assad, which makes Turkey’s policy of regime change unrealistic. The second is the Assad regime’s opposition to an independent Kurdish entity on the border with Turkey, something which gives the two common ground. The change in Turkey’s Syria policy would also be part of a larger regional adjustment, which includes improving relations with Israel. It is an interesting argument, but it is still in the realm of speculation.
- “….a complete reversal of Turkish policy is hard to imagine, and neither side has given any public signal of having revised its views. Turkish officials continue to demand Assad’s resignation, while the Syrian president recently slammed “Erdogan’s fascist regime” and vowed to make Aleppo “the graveyard in which, by the grace of God, the hopes and dreams of this butcher will be buried.”
- Of course, even if contact has in fact be re-established via Algeria, that does not mean that Ankara and Damascus are any closer politically. Conflict diplomacy is full of secret back channels, track-two talks, and other under-the-table maneuvers, but most never actually lead anywhere.
- Perhaps the new Turkish attitude was best summed up by an anonymous senior official from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in remarks to Tulay Karadeniz of Reuters: “Assad is, at the end of the day, a killer. He is torturing his own people. We’re not going to change our stance on that,” the official said. “But he does not support Kurdish autonomy. We may not like each other, but on that we’re backing the same policy.”
Since this was published, Turkey has indeed signed a deal to normalize relations with Israel.
And, Turkey has apologized to Moscow for downing a Russian jet over the Syrian-Turkish border last year.
The Assad government, however, will be more difficult…..