“Qamishli is a place that has oil. There are also oil deposits in Deir ez-Zor that are being exploited by terrorists (the Kurdistan Workers' Party and People's Protection Units of the Syrian Kurds both outlawed in Turkey – ed. note Sputnik). I told Putin: “Let us join forces, and with this oil, if you financially support this, we could put destroyed Syria on its feet”. Putin replied: “It is possible”, RIA Novosti reports, quoting Erdogan.
The Turkish president noted that the oil produced by terrorists is of “poor quality, unprocessed”, but if it's condition is improved, “it would give a chance to restore Syria”. It would immediately be clear who wants to protect Syria and ensure its unity, and who wants to take over it, Turkey's president said, adding that Ankara could make the same offer to Washington.
Professor Hasan Unal, a political scientist from Istanbul-based Maltepe University’s Political Science and International Relations Department, explains how realistic this scenario is and what the results could be.
Unal indicates the importance of this initiative, which was launched shortly after Turkey and Russia reached an agreement on the Idlib standoff in Moscow on 5 March. According to the expert, this offer could mean important changes in Ankara's Syrian policy.
“The Idlib deal reached in Moscow stresses the importance of bringing the Syrians, who were forced to leave their homes, back to the territory they occupied before the outbreak of hostilities. This is an important point since the implementation of that clause of the deal is possible only through direct cooperation between the Turkish and Syrian authorities”, the expert notes.
According to the political scientist, the Turkish president's initiative to use revenues from Syrian oil fields to reconstruct the country should be considered in light of the Moscow agreement.
“President Erdogan mentioned Turkey's role in the process of restoring Syria since he believes in ending the hostilities in Syria in the foreseeable future and establishing the sovereignty of the Syrian state. That is an indication that Ankara is positively considering the possibility of reaching an agreement with Syria. And this, in itself, is already very important progress”, Unal says.
The political analyst stresses that Syria's oil reserves would not be enough for a nationwide recovery, but adds that the YPG Kurdish self-defence units must be removed from control over these fields:
“Syria does not have very large oil reserves. However, the control over existing fields provides YPG units with a significant advantage. For this reason, the first thing that should be done is to deprive YPG of the opportunity to generate oil revenues”, Unal says.
The expert believes that oil revenues alone are not enough to restore Syria and so the process of restoring the country's infrastructure may involve financial assistance from both China and Russia as well as the countries of the Persian Gulf.
“The Arab states in the Persian Gulf, which once spent a lot of money to destroy the country, could now provide financial support to the process of restoring Syria”, the expert concludes.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.