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Russia emerges as major partner for Turkey’s Syria policy

Aykan Erdemir
19th November 2017 - Quoted by Thomas Seibert - The Arab Weekly

In a sign of an emerging alli­ance two years after Turkish- Russian relations plunged into crisis, Ankara is banking on Moscow to help Turkey reach its main goals regarding the conflict in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had four hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. It was the second meeting of the two leaders in two months and their fifth encounter this year. Another Erdogan-Putin session in Sochi, this time including Iranian President Hassan Rohani, is set for November 22.

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Aykan Erdemir, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democ­racies, a Washington think-tank, and a former Turkish lawmaker, pointed out that Erdogan referred to the Assad regime as the “central government” of Syria. That word­ing was an indirect acceptance of Damascus by Erdogan and “a sign that he was ready to accept the le­gitimacy of and a role for Assad in post-war Syria,” Erdemir said via e-mail.

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Erdemir said the change of course regarding Assad would not be easy for Erdogan to manage domestical­ly after years of presenting the Syr­ian president as the main obstacle for peace in Syria and of support­ing Sunni groups fighting the Assad government. “It is a challenge for an Islamist leader like Erdogan to make a U-turn on Assad,” Erdemir said. “Erdogan, however, has dem­onstrated his infinite political flex­ibility before.”

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Tags

russia, turkey