The Ankara conference: We are strangers here!

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

The photo that brought together Russia, Iran and Turkey’s leaders who were meeting in Ankara to discuss the Syrian affair sums up the current gloomy Arab scene.

With a big smile, the three countries reached an agreement despite the different political beliefs that drive them and the conflicting biases in Syria. Russia and Iran are the reason why Bashar al-Assad’s regime stayed. Meanwhile, Turkey, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has beaten the drums of the “verbal” war against the Assad regime from the beginning.

Erdogan drew plenty of red lines for Assad in Syria, like not allowing another Hama-like scenario in Aleppo, and later on, “Sufficient was Allah for the believers in battle.”

It’s all clear. What happened in Ankara is a “regional” version similar to the Yalta Conference which was held after World War II to divide the spoils of war and global influence

Mashari Althaydi

A joint statement

A joint statement following the summit between the three leaders, Erdogan, Rowhani and Putin, in Ankara, said the three countries are working “to bring peace and stability in Syria”. Yes! Russia from its air base in Khmeimim and through its air force in Ghouta and Northern Syria, Iran through the gangs of Qassem Soleimani and Nasrallah and Khazali’s militias, and Turkey through the Muslim Brotherhood brigades and the shelters in Gaziantep that house the fighters of Syrian fundamentalist groups are all “working to bring peace in Syria.”

OPINION: Lebanese elections and regional dimensions

It’s all clear. What happened in Ankara is a “regional” version similar to the Yalta Conference which was held after World War II to divide the spoils of war and global influence.

In a joint press conference, Rowhani said: “Today, we officially announce the end of the Syrian war.” While Putin said: “We agreed to cooperate in settling the Syrian crisis.” As for Erdogan, he said: “Those who do not comprehend that ISIS and the Kurdish fighters serve the same aim cannot contribute to (achieving) permanent peace in Syria.”

ALSO READ: The Cedar Conference and Macron’s trust in Lebanon

Perhaps the only thing that may disrupt the division of the spoils of war in Ankara is US President Trump’s retreat from his “strange” decision to exit Syria as seen following his meeting with his national security team. The hawk Mike Pompeo was firm as he noted that a hasty withdrawal may harm US interests in terms of stabilizing ISIS’s defeat and curbing Iran. US Secretary of Defense Mattis agreed with Pompeo, according to Ash-Sharq al-Awsat.

Arab countries missing

Alright, so these are all non-Arab countries. Some are neighboring countries, like Iran and Turkey, and some are far like Russia and the US. Where are the Arab countries?

Or rather, where are the original protagonists of the Syrian story, Bashar and his rivals?

The photo of Putin, Rowhani and Erdogan smiling and holding hands in Ankara while discussing Syria’s future is the photo of the year.

ALSO READ: Saudi crown prince addresses the world from the US

While returning from a meeting with the Roman emperor, poet Imru' al-Qais, who was known as the Lost King, fell ill at a mountain near today’s Ankara – some say it was in Ankara itself. As he was dying, he saw a woman by his side and said:

O neighbor mine, the time of visiting draws near, And I will remain forever with you here

O neighbor, We are both strangers here, And every stranger is in fact a relative to another stranger

This article is also available in Arabic.

Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.