I continue to be busy, so, a good read is being shared for now :)
"The talks between the presidents of Russia and Turkey — Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan — at Sochi on October 22 relating to the Syrian question lasted close to seven hours and reportedly involved “difficult” negotiations. The two statesmen wore sombre looks at their joint media briefing and didn’t take questions.
Most of the conversation was one-on-one and the Memorandum of Understanding, which the two statesmen signed, does not fully reflect the outcome. Not everything can be put down in writing in the given situation, especially given their highly personalised style of diplomacy during the past four-year period since the Russian intervention in Syria"
|Erdogan and Putin|
Ever? Doubtful. The man speaks in sound bites and platitudes unless something has been written for him to regurgitate and even then...............
7 hours of negotiations speaks of seriousness to deal with the matter at hand and a willingness to resolve and move forward. Absolutely taxing to carry on that type of exchange.
"It’s no secret that the two countries have divergent interests and specific concerns in the Syrian conflict. But the MOU speaks for itself. Evidently, there has been a lot of give and take. To recap, Russia recognises that Turkey has legitimate security concerns (they do) over the presence of terrorist groups in the Syrian border regions with Turkey. But Russia also regards the Turkish incursion as an infringement on Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. (it is) Again, Russia disapproved of the concept of a “safe zone” being created by Turkey on Syrian territory. Russia supports the Assad regime’s aspiration to to regain control of entire Syria" (I'm hoping but realize this is not just about Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran)
"However, the MOU signals that Putin and Erdogan have reconciled the seemingly insurmountable contradictions through an ingenious approach of revival of the Adana Agreement of 1998, which allows Turkey to make limited incursions into Syrian territory to counter terrorist threats but puts the main responsibility for border security on Damascus.
Of course, conditions on the ground are vastly different from what existed twenty years ago and today, Ankara and Damascus have no official relations. Thus, Russia has stepped in as facilitator. This translates on the ground in complex ways with the burden of the security of the entire north-eastern Syrian-Turkish border (from the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border) to be jointly shouldered by Russia independently with Turkey as well as Syria as back-to-back arrangements. (Keep in mind we have east of the Euphrates and parts west of the Euphrates having different arrangements. Which has been apparent even through all the spin)
"The MOU says that the Kurdish fighters will have 150 hours starting at noon on October 23 to pull back 30 kilometres from the entire northeastern border." (Will they comply? It a cause for concern!)
"The Russian and Syrian forces will ensure compliance. When the deadlines expires on October 29, joint Russian-Turkish patrolling will begin along a 10 kilometre wide stretch of the border. Russia has agreed that Turkey will retain sole control of the swathe of land 120 kilometres wide and 30 kilometres deep between the Syrian border towns of Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn that it captured in the current operation known as Operation Peace Spring that began on October 9"
Syria/Russia Forces to Deploy Outside of Turkey's Operational Zone- Revitalizng Adana- Assad Supports the Deal
An understanding has apparently been reached that Turkey will not proceed further with Operation Peace Spring. That means the vast areas of northeast Syria, which are being vacated by the US forces, and the Turkish-Syrian border to the east from Ras al-Ayn right up to the Iraqi border will come under Syrian control and patrolled jointly by Syrian forces with assistance from Russian military.
Plainly put, Syria regains control over a considerable stretch of the border with Turkey, which is a good thing, but the flip side is that it has to learn to live with the Turkish control of 3600 square kilometres of its territory between the Euphrates and the Iraqi border (which is equivalent of a quarter of Lebanon’s size) as well as the large tracts of Syrian territories to the west of the Euphrates from the border town of
Jarabulus all the way to Idlib province near the Mediterranean coast, which Turkey captured in its first and second operations codenamed Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch respectively and is keeping in its control.
Clarifies the shared duties
Clearly, something like two-thirds of Syrian border regions (stretching from Idlib in the west to Ras al-Ayn in the east de facto remain under Turkish control. No doubt, this is a bitter pill to swallow for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who vowed on Tuesday to support any “popular resistance” against Turkey’s invasion “to expel the invader sooner or later.”
An embittered Assad told Syrian troops during a visit to Idlib frontline (even as Putin was receiving Erdogan in Sochi), “Erdogan is a thief. He stole factories and the wheat and the oil in cooperation with Daesh (ISIS) and now is stealing the land.” Assad is in no position to defy Putin, who phoned him up after the talks with Erdogan, and Moscow has since claimed that Damascus is on board the MOU.Assad has to talk tough to the troops, but the bitter reality, surely a tough pill to swallow is the SAA and Bashar Assad are in no position to control the entire length of the border and ensure the security of that border for itself and it's neighbours- Including Iraq. That's the fact of the matter.
Speaking of Iraq. Not so sure they are trustworthy.
Iraq on Wednesday rejected any long-term presence of U.S. forces that have crossed its border during a retreat from northern Syria.......
But this cannot be the end of the story. Why did Putin blink? One plausible explanation could be that he felt it tactically important to get Erdogan to somehow terminate the escalation of Turkish military operations (Operation Peace Spring) at this juncture and to get him to accept the Adana Agreement as the cornerstone of border security. After all, if Erdogan keeps affirming support for Syria’s unity and territorial integrity, Turkey cannot indefinitely occupy such large areas of Syrian territories. But the catch is, this also happens to be parts of Syria where Turkey had harboured territorial claims historically. Another explanation would be that Russia hopes that once a Syrian settlement takes shape, continued Turkish occupation will anyway become untenable. But this may turn out to be an underestimation of Turkish irredentism. Possibly, Moscow could be counting that Erdogan has burnt his bridges badly with the West, which makes him dependent on Russia’s goodwill. And Turkey’s estrangement with the US opened a window of opportunity that Russia will not fail to exploit. The surprising part is that Putin has accepted Erdogan’s concept of “safe zone” and has pledged to make joint efforts to repatriate Syrian refugees. Russia had previously decried the very notion of “safe zone” on Syrian territory. The most plausible explanation would be that Putin sensed that Erdogan is stubborn about keeping the Syrian territories that have been captured in the current and previous military operations no matter what it takes, while remaining open to reaching an understanding that Turkish military will not purse Peace Spring any further.Whether Turkey does or doesn't pursue Peace Spring any further will have a whole lot to do with the Kurds. The US. Israel. Iraq. It's not as simple as just an interaction between Turkey and Syria. Or Turkey, Russia and Syria. Cooperation between all parties is going to be THE KEY to this situation working out. And that includes Iran.
This is smart thinking on Erdogan’s part, as control of the territories that have been captured is worth the price of not expanding the scope of Peace Spring, which in any case badly isolates Turkey in the international opinion. Essentially, therefore, the deal in Sochi is that while Turkish patrols to the areas closest to the border (10 km deep into Syria) jointly with the Russian forces, Operation Spring will be restricted to the limited areas between the towns of Tel Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, 32 km deep into Syrian territory, and the sectors of the border from Kobani to Tel Abyad and from Ras al-Ayn to the Iraqi border will be controlled by the Syrian forces, supported by Russian military police. Without doubt, Erdogan is the winner here. He has vanquished the Kurdish fighters and scotched their dream of homeland in Syria. And Turkey controls almost two-thirds of Syria’s northern border, which gives Erdogan a commanding voice in dictating the terms of any eventual Syrian settlement.Not so sure that the Kurds are vanquished. Not as long as the US, Israel, France and other lackies are still around. It's too early to tell, but, it's certainly more promising then anything else that has occurred for all these years.
U.S. senators want quick visa for Kurdish general, amid Syria crisis
"Republican and Democratic U.S. senators asked the State Department on Wednesday to quickly provide a visa so that the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces could visit the United states to discuss the situation in the country.
The lawmakers who sent the letter have been among the loudest voices in the U.S. Congress lamenting Trump’s decision, which many see as abandoning Kurdish forces who fought for years alongside U.S. troops as they battled Islamic State militants."Added October 24/19: MOU- Text of Understanding Between Russia and Syria
"President of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin agreed on the following points:
1. The two sides reiterate their commitment to the preservation of the political unity and territorial integrity of Syria and the protection of national security of Turkey.
2. They emphasise their determination to combat terrorism in all forms and manifestations and to disrupt separatist agendas in the Syrian territory.
3. In this framework, the established status quo in the current Operation Peace Spring area covering Tel Abyad and [Ras al-Ain] with a depth of 32km (20 miles) will be preserved.
4. Both sides reaffirm the importance of the Adana Agreement. The Russian Federation will facilitate the implementation of the Adana Agreement in the current circumstances.
5. Starting 12.00 noon of October 23, 2019, Russian military police and Syrian border guards will enter the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border, outside the area of Operation Peace Spring, to facilitate the removal of YPG elements and their weapons to the depth of 30km (19 miles) from the Turkish-Syrian border, which should be finalized in 150 hours. At that moment, joint Russian-Turkish patrols will start in the west and the east of the area of Operation Peace Spring with a depth of 10km (six miles), except Qamishli city.
6. All YPG elements and their weapons will be removed from Manbij and Tal Rifat.
7. Both sides will take necessary measures to prevent infiltrations of terrorist elements.
8. Joint efforts will be launched to facilitate the return of refugees in a safe and voluntary manner.
9. A joint monitoring and verification mechanism will be established to oversee and coordinate the implementation of this memorandum.
10. The two sides will continue to work to find a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict within Astana Mechanism and will support the activity of the Constitutional Committee."