Competing Views 

Three Syrian Files on Astana’s Table In Ankara

Iranian President Hassan RouhanI- February 14, 2019 (Anadolu)

Iranian President Hassan RouhanI- February 14, 2019 (Anadolu)


The Turkish capital, Ankara, is witnessing the fifth round of the Astana’s trio talks on Syria where Turkey, Russia and Iran stand as the guarantors of the Syrian regime and the opposition.

In a statement published today, Monday, September 16, the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey pointed out that the summit is to discuss developments in Syria, particularly the situation in Idlib.

The summit, according to the statement, aims at holding consultation between the three countries on the joint steps needed to be taken in the next period, in order to achieve a sustainable political solution in Syria, realize the conditions for the  Syrian refugees’ return and put an end to the clashes.

The current summit is seen as a milestone for Syria’s future, at both the military level between the regime and the opposition and the political level regarding the Syrian Constitutional Committee which is supposed to begin its work before the end of this September, as announced by Russia and Turkey recently.

However, this round might effect no difference akin to its former versions, for radical changes must be done on the ground or in the political sphere due to the divergent views of the guarantors about the three files they are to discuss today.

Fate of Idlib

The fate of Idlib in the days ahead is one of the most prominent issues the Astana trio is to discuss in Ankara.

Turkey seeks to stabilize the ceasefire in Idlib and maintain the map of military observation posts unchanged whereas Russia wants to remove the military factions from the buffer zone and reopen international roads—Damascus – Aleppo and  Aleppo-Latakia.

The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, released a statement on September 13, indicating that his country will focus its talks, during the tripartite summit with Russia and Iran, on developments in Idlib, including Turkish military observation posts and the fight against “terrorist organizations.”

A few days before Ankara summit, Russia has announced a unilateral ceasefire in Idlib. Although regime forces showed a willingness to abide by it, they continued with an artillery and missile attack against the villages and towns of the southern Idlib countryside, as well as carrying out airstrikes on both western and southern rural areas.

Constitutional Committee

The second file that the guarantors will discuss at the tripartite summit is the formation of the Constitutional Committee, which Russia wants to announce, as to start drafting a new constitution for Syria.

In actuality, the President of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, met with the Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev in a visit preceding the tripartite summit on Syria yesterday, to discuss the Constitutional Committee and the departure point for the process of forming it.

Earlier this month, Russia declared that the formation of the Committee is drawing closer and the launch of its work as well, which was confirmed by Ankara by the Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Safe Zone

There is a third file on the table of the guarantors, which is the safe zone that Turkey wants to establish on the northern border of Syria, in coordination with the United States.

Turkey is moving to create a safe zone away from Iran and Russia, which eye establishing this zone in different ways.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a recent meeting with Erdogan in Moscow, welcomed the formation of the safe zone and considered it a step to return the refugees.

However, Iran described the agreement as  “provocative and disturbing,” according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, who was quoted in last August.

Mousavi, back then, said that “such procedures, similar to other practices of the American officials, seek to destabilize and interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, and can create tension in the region.”


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