Russia’s agreement with the United States to create new de-escalation zones in south-west Syria is very similar to Russia’s creation of the Astana group which has helped bring Turkey into an effectively Russian lead political peace process in Syria.
Like the United States, Turkey has for the duration of the Syrian conflict opposed the legitimate government in Damascus and sought to foment illegal regime change using jihadist proxies. In this sense ,Turkey’s role and America’s role has been identical until very recent months when the US shifted their strategy to put a greater emphasis on Kudrish proxy forces rather than jihadist terrorists.
Turkey’s military position has been somewhat altered due to America’s new found reliance on Kurdish forces who pose a direct threat to Turkish sovereignty. The irony that after threatening and violating Syria’s sovereignty for years that now Turkey is in danger of Kurds doing the same to Turkeu, is something that ought not to be lost on any of the relevant parties.
Politically however, it was Russia that helped to bring Turkey into a political process that is largely authored by Russia and in doing so, Turkey has gradually had to silently admit that it’s dreams of regime change will never come to fruition.
The agreement that the US has reached with Russia does to the US what the Astana process has done to Turkey. So long as America maintains even a cursory allegiance to the agreement made with Russia, this means that America’s regime change wings have been at least partly if not fully clipped by Russia, just as the same was true of Turkey.
In both instances, Russia brought Turkey into the Astana process and has now brought America into the process of policing a ceasefire with accompanying de-escalation zones, not through the techniques of bullying and ultimatums so often used by western countries, but through a combination of patience and diplomatic engagement combined with respect for countries that often do not behave respectfully to others.
Likewise as Presidents of Turkey and the United States, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Donald Trump have respectively secured a domestic political victory with Russia’s help.
When Turkey joined the Astana group Erdogan was able to say to his constituents in Turkey that Ankara is at the top table of important peace talks after years of war which was largely unsuccessful from the Turkish perspective.
Similarly, Trump can say that after years of Barack Obama’s failed Syrian policies, Trump was able to do in a matter of months, what Obama could not get close to achieving in years: the formation of a cooperation agreement in Syria with Russia.
Far from undermining the Astana process, the new deal with the US and Jordan helps to reinforce the principles of the Astana process.
The Astana memorandum for the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria and the one agreed to by Moscow and Washington at the G20 accomplish the same things in different regions of Syria and with different countries involved, Russia being the only common thread.
This was confirmed by statements from the Turkish President who praised the joint efforts between Turkey and Russia.
President Erdogan stated,
“(Joint efforts of Moscow and Ankara) send a clear signal to the peoples of the region and whole world community. The expectations are really very high,
Personally and on behalf of my people I would like to express gratitude to you for the role you played (in the Syrian peace process”.
This corresponds to remarks from Sergey Lavrov who stated that the agreement with the United States will not negatively impact on the Astana process.