The agreement that the Russian, Turkish, and Iranian authorities have come to in Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital, should be regarded as an important step in the resolution of the Syria crisis.
The deal itself is significant because for the first time the key players, with the exception of the United States, have come to the table with an understanding that non-political solution to the conflict is no longer a viable option.
The Astana meeting is one of the most important stops in the new period, after six years of immense loss and pain that has begun with the normalization of relations and convergence between Russia and Turkey.
Hoping that a political resolution comes out of the first meeting in Astana is either deluded, or an attempt to make the start of negotiations between the sides impossible by raising expectations to the maximum. There are important stages in front of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the context of resolving the Syria crisis. Without agreeing on the least common denominators first, it won’t be easy to solve the Syria crisis in a lasting manner.
However, considering the agreement that Turkey, Russia, and Iran have arrived at in the Astana talks, it can be said that a great distance has been covered and that the “first stage” of the resolution of the Syria crisis has been made.
The most striking decisions that were taken were the following: Turkey, Russia, and Iran would spearhead the resolution of the Syria crisis as guarantor countries; humanitarian aid would speedily reach their addressees; lessening violence; establishment of a tripartite mechanism for the viewing, supervision, and application of the cease-fire; the sides meeting in Geneva on Feb. 8; armed opposition groups be kept apart from Daesh and the Nusra Front and supporting them to come together under the roof of the U.N. in Geneva; and fighting against Daesh and the Nusra Front in Syria.
Alongside these, emphasizing the protection of the territorial integrity of Syria comes forward as one of the most important elements of the agreement. Of course, a dozen unsolved topics remained unspoken of at the meeting, such as the operations being carried out by the Syrian government, the Barada Valley foremost among them—but nevertheless, there was agreement on important topics.
In Geneva, there will be more in-depth discussions about the continuation of the cease-fire, sustaining the humanitarian aid, and ending forced displacement. But after this, debates about the second and third stages of the resolution of the Syria crisis will begin and the sides will begin revising their positions and adjusting to each other.
As a result, Russia, Turkey, and Iran have made a great move. They have shown that they have their own platform to discuss international affairs and influence them. Now United Nations must do their best to show their abilities, otherwise, they would lose the leading positions in the Middle East once and for all.
by John Leslie