"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)

Lübnan Marunîleri / Yasin Atlıoğlu


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Syria, Türkiye Normalization Takes Shape along Aleppo-Latakia Highway - Asharq al-Awsat

Open and secret political and security contacts have expanded in recent days to choose the best path to normalize relations with Damascus.

Syria and Türkiye have held security meetings in the Latakia countryside with the aim of reopening the Aleppo-Latakia highway. A Kurdish delegation from Qamishli even visited the Syrian capital to feel out the limits of the Syrian-Turkish cooperation against them.

The United States has also been mediating between Ankara and the Kurds to deter a new Turkish incursion east of the Euphrates River. Iran, meanwhile, is trying to become involved in the Russian mediation between Damascus and Ankara.


The latest in the Russian efforts is President Vladimir Putin’s insistence on paving the way for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad to meet before Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in May.

Syria’s national security bureau chief Ali Mamlouk and Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan had already held talks. The Syrian, Turkish and Russian defense ministers also met. A meeting between the three countries’ foreign ministers was set to be held in the Russian capital, Moscow.

Moscow sought for the meeting to be held on January 11, but Ankara received “American advice” that it should not agree to attend before Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Washington on January 18.

Damascus, for its part, was not willing to hold the meeting for the sake of holding it, but wanted clear outcomes to come of it.

This led to a series of additional contacts. Russia’s presidential envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev visited Damascus for talks with Assad. Russia reiterated its desire to arrange a meeting between Assad and Erdogan, but the former tied such a meeting to Türkiye’s withdrawal from northern Syria or at least setting a timetable for the pullout.

Clearly, Damascus wants to claim some form of “symbolic achievement” before having Assad and Erdogan meet.

Ankara, for its part, informed mediators that its army will not withdraw from Syria “under any circumstance and even if the Americans pull out.” Such a position stands in contrast to its previous announcements when it used to tie it withdrawal to the political solution and the pullout of all foreign forces that entered Syria after 2011.