Friday 5 July 2024 - 01:51

Will Turkish-Syria Security Knot Be Untied in Iraq?

Story Code : 1145832
Will Turkish-Syria Security Knot Be Untied in Iraq?
In this connection, Syrian newspaper Al-Watan reported that serious steps have been taken for the two sides to meet. 

According to this report, Baghdad will soon host a meeting between Syrian and Turkish officials as the first step of long talks that can lead to political and field agreements.

This Syrian newspaper added that Turkey asked Russia and Iraq to talk with Syria, away from the media noise and without the presence of any third party, in order to discuss the details of restoration of relations between the two sides to their previous state. 

It is noteworthy that on July 6, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President's special envoy Alexander Lavrentiev met each other. In this meeting, reports said, al-Assad expressed Syria's acceptance of initiatives on relations between Damascus and Ankara based on respect for the Syrian sovereignty over all of its territories and fight against all types of terrorism and terrorist groups. 

Al-Assad was cited as saying that these initiatives reflect the will of these countries to help restoration of stability in Syria and the region. 

"Syria has always had a positive and constructive approach to all relevant initiatives. The success and fruitfulness of any initiative depends on respecting the sovereignty of countries and their stability," al-Assad asserted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that he is ready to improve relations with Syria to the past levels. Erdogan emphasized: "Turkey is ready to cooperate for the development of relations with Syria... There is no reason why (diplomatic ties) should not be established... As I met Bashar al-Assad in the past, I am still ready to meet him again." 

He went on: “There is no question of us having the aim of interfering in Syria’s internal affairs."

Turkey seeking way out of refugees crisis 

Over the past 13 years, Turkey inflamed conflict in Syria through support to the terrorist groups, but it could not fend off the side effects of the crisis. During this period, millions of Syrian refugees sought refuge in Turkey, and now the presence of these people has created serious problems for Ankara. Turkey, which has been grappling with an economic crisis in recent years, has borne a heavy burden of costs caused by refugees. Erdogan is pushing to get rid of these costs by returning the Syrians home as soon as possible. 

Previously, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) protected the Syrian people and looked at them more than anything else as cheap and necessary labor force for the Turkish economy, and even over the past decade, between 200,000 and 300,000 refugees obtained Turkish citizenship. However, with the Syrian society beginning to reject the Syrians amid economic crisis, inflation, and burgeoning poverty, the AKP began to shift its approach to refugees.

 Results of surveys conducted every year about the opinion of the people of Turkey about the Syrian refugees suggest that more than 60 percent want them to return to their country, and this public demand places a heavy burden on the shoulders of the leaders of Ankara to end this crisis as soon as possible.

From another aspect, opposition parties claim that presence of millions of Syrian refugees is alarming to national security, and this situation can cause new challenges to Ankara. They describe the terrorist attacks in Turkish cities over the past decade as a consequence of Syrian refugees' presence in Turkey. 

Identity tensions and street unrest are other social problems related to the presence of Syrian refugees in Turkey, examples of which happened in Kayseri province in recent days. Protests swept streets of cities and Kaysari became scene to clashes between Syrian refugees and enraged Turks after rumors spread that a group of Syrian refugees raped a five-year-old Turkish girl. 

Also, with 3.5 million Syrians hosted by Turkey, the demography of Turkey has changed in the southern regions, and there is a concern that the population of the refugees will outnumber the natives and Turks become a minority. Therefore, Erdogan plans to return the refugees to their home country in order to ease domestic concerns and prevent economic and security consequences in the future, and this is only possible through interaction and improving relations with the Syrian government, and perhaps the knot will be untied in Iraq. 

Syria wants occupiers out 

Like Ankara, Syria has set some objectives behind improving ties with Turkey, and should Ankara give a green light, Damascus will follow suit. 

Due to the fact that parts of Syria are under the military occupation of Turkey and the local forces under its command, therefore, without the end of the occupation, relations between Turkey and Syria will not return to normal, and the Syrian authorities have also said that words are not enough and Turks should take practical steps towards withdrawal. 

For Syrian officials, any uninvited foreign forces on Syrian soil are occupying forces and should pull out, because their stay is a violation of Syrian territorial integrity. Turkey has so far rejected withdrawal demands, however. 

Turkish officials argue that the presence of their army in northern Syria is aimed at confronting terrorist groups, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but Damascus regards this argument as an excuse of Ankara's presence on Syrian soil. 

Two years ago, Erdogan claimed in his election campaign that he wants to build one million housing units for Syrian refugees in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, which was opposed by Damascus.

Syrian officials insist that any measures to improve the situation of refugees should be handled by the central government, not Turkey. Since the terrorist groups, as a leverage of Ankara, no longer have the capability to confront the Syrian government, Damascus can pressure Turkey to withdraw its former standings and return to the path of interaction and friendship. 

Iraq's goals and interests 

As a neighboring country, Iraq has also taken damage from Turkish-Syrian hostility and is seeking to reconcile them to assuage the security crisis touching it. 

Earlier, a senior official in the Iraqi foreign ministry stated that the attempt to bring closer the views of Syria and Turkey arose from the need of Iraq to coordinate common positions of the three countries regarding the areas under the control of the Kurdish forces in Syria's Haskeh province, the Al-hawl refugee camp, information on wanted persons fighting with terror groups, and Iraq's share of Euphrates water.

On the other hand, in recent years, due to Turkey's attacks on the PKK terrorist group in Iraq's north, Iraqi national security has been destabilized. Baghdad intends to end the tensions between Ankara and Damascus in order to distance terrorism threat from its territory. 

It is certain that an improved relationship between Syria and Turkey will positively influence the whole region and will pave the way for uprooting terrorism in Syria. Experience has proven that terrorist cannot hold without foreign support, and if the Turkish support for the armed takfiri groups, Syria can destroy obliterate them with a lightening military campaign with the least cost. 

Another matter in Turkish-Syrian rapprochement that can benefit the Iraqi interests is facilitation of the "development route" megaproject under which Iraq will transform into a transit bridge connecting Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and Europe. This project, which was a key discussion topic during Erdogan’s Baghdad visit later in April, made ground for an agreement for expansion of security cooperation to reduce possible challenges to be posed by the PKK to the project. 

Having failed to realize its agenda in Syria during the terrorism war, Ankara now sees no way other than restoring ties to Damascus, as many Syria adversaries have backed down from their anti-Syrian stances and the terrorists have been relatively uprooted. So, continuing warmongering not only brings Ankara no gains, but also increases its costs since Syrian army is now stronger than ever.