The meeting signals a shift towards dialogue between what have previously been opposing camps throughout most of Syria’s war.
The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey – Vladimir Putin, Hassan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan – have met in Ankara, Turkey to discuss their nations’ respective roles in Syria.
The meeting culminated in the release of a joint statement pledging cooperation on reconstruction aid, and protection of Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity against “separatist agendas.”
The presidents “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as the national security of neighboring countries,” the statement reads.
They also “called upon the international community, particularly the U.N. and its humanitarian agencies, to increase its assistance to Syria by sending additional humanitarian aid, facilitating humanitarian mine action, restoring basic infrastructure assets, including social and economic facilities, and preserving historical heritage.”
In a joint press conference, Rouhani accused the United States of trying to use terrorists to promote its agenda in Syria, and urged the international community to respect the Syrian state.
Putin emphasized that Russia would seek to expand efforts to build peace and promote reconstruction in the war-torn country, and echoed Rouhani’s calls to respect Syria’s sovereignty.
Erdogan struck a different tone, however, and primarily spoke on his administration’s ‘Olive Branch’ operation in northern Syria against Kurdish militia forces, which he says are a threat to Turkey. Turkey has no plans of stopping its operation until “security and stability” are brought to the region, he said.
The meeting signals a shift towards dialogue between what have been opposing camps throughout most of Syria’s war. Russia and Iran have been the most consistent supporters of the Syrian government, while Turkey remains one of its strongest opponents. In spite of this, all three countries are seeking for cooperation to de-escalate the conflict.
Turkey still claims Syrian President Assad has “lost legitimacy,” but it is no longer demanding his departure.
The United States’ future role in Syria is increasingly unclear, with contradictory statements from Washington. President Donald Trump said during a conference on Tuesday that “I want to get out; I want to bring the troops back home, I want to start rebuilding our nation.”
The same day, however, Trump said the decision to stay in Syria may depend on Saudi Arabia: “Saudi Arabia is very interested in our decision … And I said, well, you know, you want us to stay? Maybe you’re going to have to pay.”