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The presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey discuss the war in Syria in Tehran

#presidents #Iran #Russia #Turkey #discuss #war #Syria #Tehran

With the war still raging in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss the Syrian conflict with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts.

Russia, Turkey and Iran have met in recent years to discuss Syria as part of the so-called “Astana peace process” to end more than 11 years of conflict in the Arab country.

All three are involved in Syria, with Russia and Iran supporting the Damascus regime against its opponents and Turkey supporting rebels.

Tuesday’s summit comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to launch a new offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants.

Iran, whose President Ebrahim Raisi is hosting the meeting, has already warned that any Turkish military action in Syria could “destabilize the region”.

The Tehran summit will also allow Erdogan to hold his first meeting with Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Turkey’s president has been offering to meet the Russian leader for months to help resolve global tensions that have escalated since the war began.

“The timing of this summit is not accidental,” Russian analyst Vladimir Sotnikov told AFP.

“Turkey wants to conduct a ‘special operation’ in Syria in the same way that Russia conducts a ‘special operation’ in Ukraine,” he said.

Turkey has launched waves of attacks on Syria since 2016, targeting both Kurdish militias and jihadists from the Islamic State group and troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

– Green light? –

Erdogan’s planned military offensive is aimed at Kurdish fighters, whom Ankara classifies as “terrorists”.

These include the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which formed a crucial part of an international coalition against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Ankara fears that a strong Kurdish presence along its border with Syria will strengthen the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been leading an insurgency against the Turkish state for decades that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned Turkish threats of a new invasion.

Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe who specializes in Turkish foreign policy, said Ankara wanted the blessings of Moscow and Iran before beginning its operation.

“This is particularly important because the two potential target regions are under Russian control and Turkey wants to use the airspace… to mitigate the risks,” he said.

Iran “also has an indirect presence in the region through Shiite militias it controls,” Ulgen said.

Ultimately, Erdogan hopes to get “the green light” from Putin and Raisi, he added.

Russia has already expressed hope that Turkey would “refrain” from attacking Syria.

Iran, whose Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has visited both Ankara and Damascus in recent weeks, also urged caution.

– “Destabilizing” –

Late last month, Iran’s top diplomat in Ankara said that “we understand that… a special operation may be required.”

“Turkey’s security concerns must be addressed comprehensively and permanently.”

Days later, in Damascus, Amir-Abdollahian said that Turkish military action in Syria “would be a destabilizing element in the region”.

Mazloum Abdi, commander in chief of the YPG-affiliated Syrian Democratic Forces, has urged Russia and Iran to hold Turkey back.

“We hope that (the attacks) will not happen and that the Kurds … will not be abandoned during the talks between the great powers,” he said.

The SDF warned that an invasion of Ankara would undermine efforts to counter jihadists from the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria.

Nicholas Heras of the Newlines Institute said Iran and Russia “want to prevent another Turkish military campaign in Syria”.

“Iran is building a presence in and around Aleppo, which is affecting Turkey, and Russia is ceding ground to Iran in virtually all of Syria,” he added.

For the Iranian political scientist Ahmad Zeidabadi, “new differences” between Russia, Iran and Turkey have emerged after the Ukraine war.

That, and an “uncertain future,” he said, means the three leaders will seek to “coordinate” their views on Syria to avoid further tensions.

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#presidents #Iran #Russia #Turkey #discuss #war #Syria #Tehran

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