The Washington-based al-monitor.com reported that Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and his Syrian counterpart Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk met in Moscow on January 13.
According to al-monitor, Russia facilitated the talks in order to stabilize Syria by re-establishing ties between Ankara and Damascus.
Last month (December) Syrian President Bashar al-Asad had stated that he would meet the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan if it served the interests of the Syrian state.
Prior to the war on Syria, the country was a geopolitical, trade and cultural window for Turkey into the Arab world.
According to data provided by the Atlantic Council, “Turkey exported goods to Syria worth $1.8 billion in 2010, [of its total exports] of $113 billion. In 2012, Turkey’s trade volume with Syria deteriorated to $497 million.”
By adopting a pro-Israeli and pro-US agenda on Syria in 2011, Turkey’s rulers assumed that they could outmaneuver both and ride on America’s shoulders to become the new Ottoman Sultanate-style regional power.
This did not materialize, as NATO’s expectations of quick collapse of the Syrian government did not materialize.
Perhaps, Western powers became victims of their own propaganda and got stuck in their echo-chamber failing to see beyond their perspective.
It is now evident that the Syrian government had far more grassroot support in Syria than the corporate media was reporting.
Currently there is no better way than for Ankara and Damascus to reconcile and establish respectful state-to-state relations.
The question is what steps should each side take in order to regain the other’s trust? Since it is Turkey that invaded Syrian territory, the first step should be Ankara’s withdrawal from Syria.
It should also be noted that Damascus must give Turkey a face-saving mechanism in dealing with its proxies in Idlib.
Ankara will not wish to be seen as a power that betrayed and abandoned its proxies.
Turkey wants to extend its influence across the Muslim world. Thus maintaining credibility is essential for Ankara to gain allies in the region.
Syrian expectations of how Ankara should deal with its allies must, therefore, be realistic.
If Moscow and Tehran manage to facilitate reconciliation between Syria and Turkey, it will set a precedent for the region to reconcile differences and find mutually beneficial regional solutions.
Turkish-Syrian reconciliation will also have to address the Kurdish question and provide the Kurds with a reasonable degree of autonomy.
This will significantly reduce US-Israeli ability to destabilize the region.