Photographs appeared to show ISIS militant twice released by Turkey implicated in burning of Turkish soldiers in Al-Bab highlights folly of Turkey’s previous support for the group.
In a gesture to the incoming Trump administration Russia invites the US to attend the forthcoming Syrian peace conference in Astana, calculating that it makes better sense to have the US on side with the process rather than left outside seeking to disrupt it. Iran however makes its skepticism clear.
Russian and Turkish Presidents Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan discuss Syrian ceasefire by telephone and agree it is generally observed. However in many parts of Syria fighting still continues, the date of the Astana peace conference has still not been agreed, and there is no confirmation that Turkey is preventing reinforcements and supplies reaching the Jihadis in Syria from across the Turkish border.
Reports circulate in the Middle East media originating in Turkey that the Russian air force has been action, helping the Turkish army defeat ISIS near the strategically important Syrian town of Al-Bab. Whilst the Russians have not confirmed these reports, they have conspicuously failed to deny them, suggesting that they are probably true.
There are no quick or easy solutions to Turkey’s terrorism crisis. However if the crisis is to be overcome Turkey urgently needs to reconcile with Syria and Iraq, in order to secure peace and establish good neighbourly relations with these countries, ending the threat of Jihadi terrorism spreading to its territory. Turks also urgently needs to focus on the fight against ISIS, work for better relations with Russia, and in the long term seek reconciliation with the Armenians and the Kurds.
Whilst the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement offers the best route to peace in Syria, and in theory gives the Syrian army the space to rebuild and to take the war to Al-Qaeda and ISIS, its success ultimately depends too much on the commitment of Turkish President Erdogan to invest too much hope in its success.
Though the greatest credit for the Syrian army’s victory must go to the soldiers of the Syrian army and to the people of Aleppo, the fanaticism and intransigence of the Jihadis in Aleppo, and the intransigence of their Western backers, contributed significantly to their “total defeat” and the Syrian army’s victory.
In hours following assassination of Russian ambassador to Turkey, both Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan renew their commitment to improved relations, whilst Russia looks to exploit the murder to achieve its objective of setting up a Syrian peace conference co-hosted by Russia and Turkey in the Kazakh capital of Astana.