While we are all, rightfully, worried about what’s going on in Ukraine, those sneaky Russians are shoring up their situation on the south shores of the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.
As reported last week the meeting between Russia, Turkiye, and Syria took place between their Defense Ministers where they all described the talks as ‘constructive’ towards solving multiple outstanding issues like refugees and the backing of radicals.
This meeting was put in motion by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the Moscow Times article notes:
In November, Erdogan said a meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad was a possibility, after cutting diplomatic ties with Damascus throughout the 11-year conflict.
In mid-December, he indicated that he could meet with Assad after the two countries’ defense and foreign ministers meet.
“We want to take a step as Syria, Turkey and Russia,” [emphasis mine] he said at the time.
The issues discussed are especially important for Erdogan as the protracted war is sapping his popularity at home in the face of an ongoing pull out of western capital from Turkey that has seen the lira go through what can only be described as a hyperinflation since 2018.
With elections on the horizon and Erdogan’s position tenuous for the first time in his political career, moves need to be made now to improve things. Allowing the millions of Syrian refugees the opportunity to go home would be a big win for Erdogan politically.
This is also a good use of Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, since he’s not in charge of the operation in Ukraine and hasn’t been since October, with good reason.
Shoigu, I’m sure, has been preparing for this meeting for months, laying the groundwork for talks between Turkiye and Syria that are long overdue.
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