Erdogan’s rapprochement with Assad

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
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The noticeable race over Damascus between leaderships such as the Sudanese and Turkish harmonizes with political developments on the ground. It’s a mere confession to the fait accompli. Turkey’s silent rapprochement with the Syrian regime happened more than a year ago within a new policy in cooperation with Iran and via abandoning the Syrian opposition.

The truth is that those who actually destroyed the Syrian opposition were not the Syrian regime’s forces or Iran’s militias or Russia’s air force, but Ankara’s government. Its rapprochement with Iran and Russia and withdrawal from the previous Syrian scene led to the collapse of the political and armed opposition considering that Turkey was the major party that had embraced the armed opposition since the eruption of the revolution in 2011.

Why do the Americans rely on Syria’s Kurds and Arab tribes to confront the Assad regime although this angers Erdogan’s government? It’s because Washington does not have other options and it thinks Ankara is responsible for the defeat

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The Turkish withdrawal from supporting the opposition’s project, i.e. the national one in order to distinguish it from armed jihadists, led to pretty much the elimination of the ground structure. All that’s left is few factions that the Turks hired to fight Kurdish organizations. It also estranged a number of Syrian political opposition leaders and kept them outside Turkey after they had been living in Istanbul.

New stances

New stances that seem shocking are being formed on the ground. Turkey has become closer to the Assad and Tehran regimes, and it’s now against American presence and fighting the Syrian opposition that is positioned east of the Euphrates. Although Turkish officials justify their new stance against the Syrian opposition there via the excuse that most of it are Kurds, and that is true, but the Turkish orientation has been on so many levels based on a new alliance with Iran and Russia in the area where it’s a must to get rid of the opposition.

This is what the US State Department warned Ankara of as it thinks Ankara’s stances and behavior contradicts American interests as well as with the NATO, which Turkey is a member of. An example is that Turkey’s intention to purchase Russian S-400 missile system infuriates Washington and it’s expected to widen the distance of the dispute between the two old allies. Turkey’s insistence regarding rapprochement with Iran and engaging in trade with it indicate the nature of Turkish orientations in the region, including in Syria.

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s visit to Damascus only bears a symbolic value and comes within several moves to enhance the image of President Bashar al-Assad to respond to the Americans that reject the Russian solution of adopting the Syrian regime again. No matter how dilatory American stances are, they will accept Assad in the final round.

The situation in northeast Syria is drowned in political mud. Turkey’s rapprochement with Assad is increasing, and this is what Washington is trying to prevent but without achieving any success worth mentioning, and it may have to make concessions and allow Turkish troops to enter Manbij which President Erdogan threatened to enter against the Americans’ will. Why do the Americans rely on Syria’s Kurds and Arab tribes to confront the Assad regime although this angers Erdogan’s government?

It’s because Washington does not have other options and it thinks Ankara is responsible for the defeat after it abandoned the Syrian opposition. Turkey is fighting Americans in this area where it’s using the remnants of the Syrian armed opposition affiliated with it as a proxy to fight the American proxy that’s made up of Syrian Arab and Kurds east of the Euphrates.

Meanwhile, the Russians insist on imposing the entire Assad regime and are indifferent regarding the Americans’ efforts to ruin the Astana-Sochi agreement by calling for finalizing the constitutional committee and including the opposition within Syria’s new regime. However, everyone does not trust the Americans’ seriousness and think that the Americans do not have a long breath in managing crises unlike the Russians who are more persistent and successful. The Turks’ rebellion against the Americans in Syria is proof of the weakness of Washington which only has 3,000 soldiers on the ground east of Euphrates.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

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