Russia and Turkey have announced a major ‘de-escalation’ and ceasefire agreement in Idlib, which — we should note, is very likely to unravel and fail similar to the recent much-hyped US-Taliban ceasefire in Afghanistan which began falling apart a mere 24-hours after it was signed.
But Thursday’s talks between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin were intense, lasting six hours, during which they hashed out details — the key of which is an announced ceasefire set to begin just after midnight on March 6th. “At 00.01 tonight, as in, from midnight, the ceasefire will be put in place,” Erdogan said.
Previously improving ties between Moscow and Ankara been severely damaged, recently reaching breaking point, since the Syrian-Russian joint offensive beginning in December to liberate Idlib province from al-Qaeda factions which have held it since 2015. Turkey has lost scores of troops, including in what’s widely believed to have been a Russian strike on Turkish positions a week ago, which killed at least 34 Turkish soldiers.
Here are the three key points agreed upon after the six hour talks between Putin and Erdogan, per Middle East Eye:
- Agreed to establish a six-kilometer-wide security corridor along the M4 highway connecting Latakia with northern Syria.
- Agreed to establish joint Turkish-Russian patrols along the highway on 15 March, stretching from the Trumba settlement just west of the strategic town of Saraqeb, to the Ain al-Havr settlement.
- Ceasefire in Idlib to begin at midnight.
Obviously this leaves much out, highlighting likely continuing deep points of contention between the two, for example the fate of hundreds of thousands of displaced refugees and the status of territories in southern Idlib captured by the Syrian Army over the past months (the latter only a problem from Ankara’s point of view of course).
Spectacular displays of passive-aggression from Putin and Erdogan as they both try and leave the other guy hanging while they chat to their bros pic.twitter.com/efFi4BoYdJ
— Rowland Manthorpe (@rowlsmanthorpe) March 5, 2020
According to Russia’s RT, the document signed following negotiations Thursday crucially “underlined that both Moscow and Ankara remained committed to maintaining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria.”
This despite Erdogan recently speaking and acting as if the northwest Syrian province must be ‘defended’ in the way of some kind of Turkish possession.
— RT (@RT_com) March 5, 2020
Meanwhile, in a sign this is surely doomed to be very short-lived — if it even gets off the ground at all (considering especially we’re dealing with non-state actors on the ground, namely, al-Qaeda faction Hayat Tahrir al-Sham), just as news of the ‘de-escalation’ agreement broke in the afternoon Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced two Turkish soldiers killed and three others wounded in Idlib by Syrian national forces.
Thu, 03/05/2020 – 15:35
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Author: Tyler Durden