Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to host Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss the fate of war-torn Syria. The talks come after Syrian government forces launched an offensive in the Idlib region.
Syria has been in a state of war against the rebels who want to overthrow the current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.
The talks are a part of the Astana Process which aims to find a political solution to the issue of Syria. The Syrian government has been backed by Russia who has provided the government forces with airpower support in its bid to reclaim the land from the rebel forces.
Iran and Russia have backed the government in its offensives whereas Turkey has been concerned about the rising number of migrants which would threaten the stability of the country. Turkey already houses 3.5 million migrants.
As per the previous agreement between the three parties, Turkey had set up observation posts in Idlib where the government offensive had caused an escalation between the government forces and the Turkish forces. The escalation was caused due to a government offensive which not only surrounded rebels but also a Turkish outpost. Despite concerns raised, the government continued with its offensive.
Idlib is the last remaining rebel stronghold and also the last area where according to a report in DW, one million refugees are seeking sanctuary from the Assad regime. The biggest concern for Turkey would be to avoid a migrant inflow in its territories.
As per the last agreement between Russia and Turkey, it managed to stop the government offensive in the region on a promise that it will act proactively in eliminating the rebel groups from the region. A promise which is yet unkept.
The real reason is the disagreement between Russia and Turkey on whom to designate as a terror group, the talks would provide a platform to address this issue.
Russia and Turkey are having cordial relations which are strategically important for Russia to counter the US influence in the region and the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally is a concern for Moscow.
Iran and Russia have been concerned with the failure of the Turkish counterparts in failing to disarm the rebels in the region. The question which would be detrimental for the peace plan would be the future of Idlib as the Syrian government considers the region as strategically important as it connects Aleppo to the regime-controlled areas.
The talks will set a tune for a political solution to the issue of Syria which has been lingering since 2011.
(Inputs from agencies)