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    Winds of Change: Russia, US, Turkey Will 'Join Forces' to Resolve Syrian Crisis

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    Russia, the United States and Turkey will join efforts in a bid to destroy terrorist groups fighting in Syria and resolve the years-long crisis, journalist Verda Özer wrote for the newspaper Hurriyet, adding that Moscow and Washington appear to have sorted some of the differences, particularly the fate of President Bashar al-Assad.

    "Washington has long since changed its stance on Assad," she said. Policymakers in the US "reached an agreement with Moscow on plans with regard to establishing a government of national unity that Assad will be a part of several months ago."

    For its part, Russia agreed to refrain from targeting those groups that the US considers to be moderate and convince Assad to come to the negotiating table with the opposition.

    Ankara was opposed to any agreements that allowed Assad to remain in power. Moreover, Turkey provided assistance to radical groups trying to remove him and establish Sharia law in the war-torn country.

    Turkey's foreign policy took a U-turn when Binali Yildirim replaced Ahmet Davutoglu as the country's prime minister. Yildirim announced that Ankara will focus on making friends and reducing the number of its enemies, leading to a thaw in Turkey's relations with Russia and Israel.

    Pro-Erdogan supporters wave Turkish national flags during a rally at Taksim square in Istanbul on July 18, 2016 following the military failed coup attempt of July 15
    © AFP 2019 / ARIS MESSINIS
    Pro-Erdogan supporters wave Turkish national flags during a rally at Taksim square in Istanbul on July 18, 2016 following the military failed coup attempt of July 15

    The botched military coup that rocked Turkey in mid-July has reinforced this trend.

    The unsuccessful putsch "sparked tensions between Ankara and Western countries, primarily the US due to its muted response" to what transpired on July 15, she observed. "On the other hand, support from Russia and Iran helped to speed up the rapprochement with this camp."

    As a result, Ankara has warmed up to Moscow's approach to resolving the Syrian crisis. Moreover, Turkey was apparently ready to cooperate with Russia and the US on the issue months ago.

    "Prior to the Su-24 downing on November 24, 2015, Ankara and Moscow reached an agreement," Özer said, citing an unnamed high-ranking official. "Turkey, Russia and the US were supposed to cooperate in the fight against al-Nusra Front. The political transition in Syria would have been faster. Other regional powers that welcomed these efforts would have supported this initiative."

    The journalist explained that by regional powers the source most likely meant Iran.

    This agreement fell through when Ankara shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber in northern Syria, but Turkey's relations with Russia have improved since then and both countries have already indicated that they are ready to look for an agreement on Syria.

    Tensions between Turkey and the US could be an issue, but Özer maintained that since Washington is interested in resolving the Syrian crisis, its relations with Ankara will develop accordingly.

    If true, these developments will impact on Turkey's strategy in Syria.

    "Ankara will have to drop the Assad issue from its current agenda, since the Syrian president benefits from cooperation between Russia and the US," the journalist noted. The Geneva process "will speed up and Ankara will have to serve as a mediator between opposing factions."Indeed, Turkish authorities seem to be moving in this direction.

    On Monday, Binali Yildirim said that Syria's future political structure will not be sectarian and as a result "Assad will not be there in the long-run." However, Yildirim did not call for Assad's immediate resignation.

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    Russian aerial campaign, radical Islam, Syrian conflict, counterterrorism, Daesh, Binali Yildirim, Bashar al-Assad, Turkey, Syria, United States, Russia
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