It is still very difficult to judge whether it is possible to transfer the experience of the two previous meetings and Tehran-18 to broader negotiations on Syria. However, to ignore those, albeit modest achievements, which he gave, no one will succeed.
The meeting in Tehran, a priori, could not provoke any positive reaction in the West, as well as in a number of countries neighboring Syria. The pro-Western media immediately began to accuse the newly appeared “top three” of using methods of diplomacy more characteristic of the era that had passed about a hundred years ago. But after all, small countries and weak leaders in the 21st century also have to endure something like “external governance”.
In response, colleagues on the pen, you can just recall that Syrian President Bashar Asad actually wrote out a blank check on this approach not only to Vladimir Putin, but also to the leaders of Turkey and Iran. And it all began, as is well known, from the alternative format of Astana, which just allowed Damascus to get out from under too intrusive tutelage from the United States and its allies.
The format of Astana was mentioned in its comments on the results of the summit, even by the Russian president. Vladimir Putin described the negotiations in the format of Astana as an effective tool for the revival of Syria, which has benefited all Syrians. He said that in Tehran, the three guarantor states had overcome the problems hindering the success of the process in Astana. He said that the negotiations between the guarantor states will continue at the level of experts and representatives of three countries, representatives of opposition parties and groups, and representatives of the UN.
Over the past few months, the development of the negotiation process has been reinforced by unexpected for many military successes of the Syrian army. In one way or another, the military specialists of the three guarantor countries continue to support it and, let's call them so, informal armed units and formations. Yes, Turkey, Iran and Russia have had and remain their interests in Syria, but now there are no serious reasons for asserting that Bashar Asad avoided solving the most important problem at the moment - Idlib's problems.
And now it’s not even the case that without the participation of the Syrian leader, the “troika” simply makes it easier to negotiate, because you don’t have to disclose cards - that is, certain bilateral agreements of each of the three countries with Damascus. Now, it seems, it is much more important for Moscow, Tehran and Ankara not to raise the status of local decisions made by the “troika” on the same Idlib to the level of some final agreements.
After all, any so-called “final” decision will immediately become an irritant at once for all other parties who got stuck seriously and for a long time in Syria. We must not forget that for a long time it was actually about the inevitable division of Syria, which was considered both in Washington, Tel Aviv, and in a number of Arab countries as the most acceptable and just the “final” scenario.
Today we are talking about turning the Idlib province into a real peace zone as the last stronghold of the opposition. The latter, suffering one defeat after another, is more and more distinctly merging with terrorist formations in its own interests. Iran, Russia and Turkey still strongly differ in their assessments, who of those who settled in Idlib are attributed to the opposition, and who directly to the terrorists. It is clear that this very seriously complicates not only negotiations, but also the conduct of hostilities for the Syrian army.
The triple alliance itself for a long time seemed to many temporary, momentary. Therefore, the attitude in the series of negotiations in Astana was, to put it mildly, indulgent. Moreover, in Astana itself they made a not too serious bet. And it is not by chance that after, or rather parallel with Astana, the “trio” decided to assemble first in Sochi, and now in Tehran. It seems that in the opinion of the members of the troika of guarantors, now the leader of Kazakhstan in some respects also, like Bashar Asad, only complicates the adoption of a number of necessary operational decisions. In addition, the situation in the region is now fundamentally different from that which took place two or three years ago.
Much has changed since the time of the "strange" air strike on Syria. By and large, this blow should have been fully attributed to NATO, but due to the current special position of Turkey, it is still better to give up such an assessment. Moreover, another thing is more important - an air strike on Syria has become a kind of frontier, after which the same three guarantor countries already consider it possible to discuss the most important topics without intermediaries and without opponents. Such a right came to them not only at the request of the UN, but at least because the negotiations with the mediators and opponents would have been doomed to failure.
The main theme of the talks in Tehran was, as expected, the advance of Damascus’s government forces in the northwestern province of Idlib. Currently, it is under the almost complete control of terrorists and "moderate". They, as is known, despite all the arguments from Tehran and Moscow, are still supported by Ankara.
Yes, at the moment the alliance of Russia, Turkey and Iran is not yet ready to drastically change regional solitaire. It is possible that this “troika” will never have such readiness. But in a situation where everyone else prefers to either continue ineffective pressure on official Damascus, or even wait until “the corpse of the enemy is carried by”, the triple alliance is simply forced to act.
Now for many, and not only in Syria and in the three countries participating in the summit, the main thing is to find a political solution to the Syrian conflict by appeasing all parties. There are also those who, perhaps, consider “peace enforcement” real, which has been tried out more than once in recent years, and not only in Syria.
In general, the Allies, at the end of Tehran-18, expressed satisfaction with the actual liquidation of the terrorist “caliphate” in most of Syria. A preliminary exchange of views took place on the direction in which events in the region could develop further. In addition, for the "trio of guarantors", it seems the time has come to determine the prospects of the Russia-Iran-Turkey alliance.
Until now, the alliance basically solved local, in fact, non-strategic tasks, which made it possible to manage without other participants in the negotiations. Is it possible to move to another level, time will tell. In the meantime, it becomes clear that the collapse of the “troika”, with all the contradictions within it, can not be feared, and there are chances that it will continue to cooperate in solving the problem of Idlib.
The Alliance has already noticeably changed the balance of power in the Middle East. Moscow, Tehran and Ankara showed the ability to work both together and, if necessary, independently in the defense of their national interests. Turkey, taking something like a “special position” in relations with the old allies, is hardly ready for a straightforward drift to the East.
Moreover, on the question of the possible offensive of the Syrian army in Idlib, President Erdogan remains committed to the most disastrous forecast. He believes, not without reason, that a blow to the terrorists in the province will lead to an even greater flow of refugees than it has been until now. Recall that in Turkey today there are more than three million Syrian refugees, and the country is unlikely to be able to receive hundreds of thousands more.
Following the talks in Tehran, the Turkish leader noted that the war against terrorism in Idlib should go patiently. Erdogan admitted that he recognized and respected the concerns of Iran and Russia over the presence of some unfavorable elements in Syria, but he tried to warn partners against measures that could turn the province into a sea of blood.
At the summit itself, Erdogan put it directly at all: "We should not give this region to the Assad regime," noting that "any attack (on Idlib) will lead to disaster, murder and a great human tragedy." After this, is it worth explaining why the “trio of guarantors” is actually forced to leave the Syrian president behind brackets?
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as if in response to Erdogan, said that it is necessary to develop mechanisms to protect civilians from causing any harm in Idlib. Rouhani said there are concerns about the density of the civilian population in Idlib, and added that it is necessary to develop mechanisms so that civilians are not affected.
Meanwhile, Ankara is ready to listen to the opinion prevailing in Iran that the “trio of guarantors”, taking into account the pressure and sanctions of the United States, can well afford the policy of creating a “single economic, geopolitical and even military space”. Moreover, there are regular calls from Tehran to form such forces in the region that would be able to resist America’s exorbitant appetites. ” It seems that if they suddenly want to “build” Ankara too hard in Washington, Turkey’s interest in such proposals will immediately grow.
It remains to be recalled that in Iran, with all the heat of the anti-American propaganda campaign, there are very influential political forces who are not averse to building bridges with the United States. And including a relatively new nuclear agreement. Just with this, among other things, is the marginal accuracy that has been characteristic of Iran’s actions in Syria in recent weeks.
In general, we must not forget that the activity of the “trio of guarantors” is still focused solely on Syria, and does not even give grounds to speak about the readiness of Ankara and Tehran to shift the center of gravity from the West towards Russia and Eurasia. Obviously, not coincidentally, against the background of the contradictions between the two partners, Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to focus on the prospects for continuing the negotiation process, recalling the next meeting already in Russia.
He stressed that establishing peace and improving the humanitarian situation is a common problem of the three countries. Putin assured that Russia, Turkey and Iran will actively continue the fight against terrorism to improve the humanitarian situation in Syria. The Russian leader recalled that so far 10 expert meetings have been held within the framework of the Astana peace process.
"Our priority is the complete elimination of terrorism in Syria with the support of the Russian Air Force," he said, adding that the three countries had invited all the parties involved to lay down weapon in an attempt to facilitate reconciliation. "We just want to destroy terrorism in Idlib."
The working declaration, which was published following the summit in Tabriz, has become as traditional as the two previous statements. Rouhani, Putin and Erdogan expressed their commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. Time after time, the three countries necessarily emphasize their commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.
Almost thesis about the opposition to "attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of the fight against terrorism" is repeated word for word. The determination to continue cooperation is reaffirmed in order to ultimately liquidate ISIL, Front Al-Nusra and all other terrorist groups (banned in Russia). The matter is somewhat complicated due to the fact that, as regards these “other groupings”, the assessments of the three countries still differ very, very substantially.
Officially, it is reported that the three presidents had time to discuss in Tabriz the future prospects of a Syrian settlement, and also held the next coordination of positions, including the formation of the so-called Syrian constitutional committee. The Iranian President said that the parties "also agreed on the process of forming a new constitution (Syria)", stressing that the finalization of this Constitution with the participation of the Syrian people and opposition groups would be a very important step for the future of Syria.
Characteristically, even before Tehran-18, the envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, invited the representatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran to discuss, among other things, exactly this topic already September 11-12 at a meeting in Geneva. Recall, at one time, a series of talks in Astana, at which specific humanitarian problems were discussed, and the topic of demilitarization zones became a real alternative to Geneva, where, according to one Russian diplomat, there was “a lot of bureaucracy and little diplomacy”.