Months of Syrian-Turkish rapprochement efforts that followed years of estrangement, the two neighboring countries are closer to full normalization than ever before.

That normalization, which is likely to be activated soon, went through many stages in which Russia was a party, while it was led and constantly sought by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as part of his attempts during the past year to return Türkiye to a zero crises policy.

As soon as this policy bore fruit in the Saudi-Turkish relations, the train of full normalization didn’t stop in directions of Egypt and Syria, despite Ankara’s relentless attempts to restore relations to their previous era.

However, while the World Cup handshake between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al Sisi was an indication of the start of a new era of cooperation, but it is conditional, Damascus was closer to full normalization with Ankara, especially after the Moscow meeting.

For the first time since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis in 2011, the Turkish and Syrian defense ministers met within the framework of a meeting in Moscow with their Russian counterpart, in an official meeting in which ways to solve the Syrian crisis and the refugee issue were discussed, as well as joint efforts to combat extremist groups, according to the Syrian ministry of defense statement.

The Syrian Ministry of Defense said, “The both side stressed the constructive nature of the dialogue in the form in which it was held and the need to continue it in order to establish stability in Syria”.

The tripartite discussion session was held last Wednesday, in Moscow, between the defense ministers of Syria, Russia, and Türkiye, in which ways of a solution in Syria, the issue of refugees, and efforts to combat terrorism were discussed, noting that the importance and necessity of continuing dialogue in order to stabilization of the situation in the region.

The Syrian Minister of Defense and the Major General, Director of the Syrian General Intelligence Department, with their counterparts, the Turkish Minister of Defense and the head of the Turkish Intelligence Service, in Moscow, along with their Russian counterparts.

The Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said, in statement, before returning to Ankara from the Russian capital, that he stressed during the tripartite meeting in Moscow with his Russian and Syrian counterparts, the necessity of resolving the Syrian crisis, including all parties, in accordance with the International resolution 2254.

Akar added, “Through the efforts that will be made in the coming days, serious contributions can be made to bring about peace and stability in Syria and the region”.

What is Resolution 2254?

The United States submitted a resolution 2254 and the UN Security Council adopted it on December 18, 2015.

The resolution stressed:

  1. The need for all parties in Syria to undertake confidence-building measures to contribute to the feasibility of the political process and the cease-fire.
  2. Calling on all countries to use their influence with the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition to advance the peace process.
  3. Full support for a Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations.
  4. Calling for immediate, rapid, safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies to all parts of Syria.
  5. Calling for immediate and humanitarian aid to be allowed to reach all those in need.
  6. The urgent need to build conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes and the rehabilitation of affected areas.

And while there was no breakthrough in the provisions of this decision on the ground, the Syrian-Turkish relations were proceeding in an inconsistent manner between escalation and de-escalation during the past 11 years.

De-escalation status between Damascus and Ankara after the military escalation, the two countries raised the slogan of de-escalation following mediation from Russia.

On August 2021: Indicators of the two countries’ rapprochement began at the invitation of Turkish Foreign Minister for reconciliation between the Damascus and the Syrian opposition.

On October 2021: The foreign ministers of Türkiye and Syria met on the sidelines of the Belgrade Summit in Serbia.

On November 2022: The Turkish president announced the possibility of meeting the Syrian president, because there is no room for resentment in politics.

On December 2022: Russia welcomed the Turkish president’s call for a tripartite mechanism for dialogue between Moscow, Ankara and Damascus.

December 2022: Moscow hosts a meeting of defense ministers of Russia, Türkiye and Syria.

Despite the statements attributed to the Syrian president recently, in which he spoke of his unwillingness to meet the Turkish president before the upcoming Turkish elections, on the grounds of not providing what he called a free service that supports the victory of the Turkish president and his party in the elections, at a time when the Turkish opposition is playing the card of rapprochement with Damascus, and do what Damascus want if they won in the next election.

The beginning of the year 2023 remains a turning point in the future of Turkish-Syrian relations and rapprochement.

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