RNA - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian and Turkish counterparts Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are also scheduled to have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the tripartite summit on Friday, September 7. The three presidents previously met in the Russian resort city of Sochi and the Turkish capital Ankara, where they discussed developments in Syria, among other things.
A major item on this summit agenda is the terror-held Northwestern province of Idlib which President Bashar al-Assad wants to recapture. Iran and Russia are the main allies of the Damascus and their military support tipped the balance of the seven-year war in government’s favor. Turkey has backed rebels seeking to oust the government but since late 2016 it has been working closely with Iran and Russia to avoid the fate of Qatar and Saudi Arabia who have been excluded from the equation in Syria, and maintain its presence on the stage.
At any rate, the three leaders have agreed to consider further joint efforts to ensure long-term normalization of the situation in the Arab country. This includes bilateral talks and discussing further measures aimed at finally liquidating the hotbed of international terrorism in Syria, where according to the United Nations the conflict has killed more than 400,000 people since 2011, and made millions more refugees.
The discussions further look at promoting the process of a political settlement with the opposition groups (not Salafi, Takfiri, Wahhabi terrorists), including creating the conditions for the return of refugees and the internally displaced. Unlike the United States and its allies which seek to prolong the war, Rouhani, Putin and Erdogan back Syria peace talks based in the Kazakh capital of Astana (Astana Process), aimed at reinforcing, rather than undermining, a parallel UN peace process in Geneva.
On the other hand, Iran and Russia could speed up normalization of the situation in Syria through Turkey's companionship. The good news is that Turkey is looking for new allies and is in the anti-US camp. Turkey has come so close to Iran that it has informed Washington of its defiance of the US sanctions policy against Tehran. Ties are also warming between Turkey and Russia, even though they supported opposing sides in the war and Turkey shot down a Russian warplane before. Now thanks to the Tehran Summit, Erdogan backs an Iranian-Russian truce plan for four areas in Syria, and has sent troops to assist in its execution. All in all, the Friday summit means collaboration because of common interests among Iran, Russia and Turkey happening at the right time and the right place.
According to Fars News Agancy, they meet at a sensitive time. Defying Trump, Russian air strikes have resumed against Qaeda-allied rebels in Northwestern Idlib province. The Syrian Army is also preparing a phased offensive to regain the "nest of terrorists". The province and surrounding areas is the last major enclave held by Qaeda-allied insurgents fighting the Syrian government, such as the Nusra Front.
With the foreign-backed terrorist groups still operating there, the government cannot start rebuilding the country. Damascus cannot put in place the legal and regulatory authorities to implement its vision of reconstruction as a process of stabilization when the country is still in the midst of various regional and international tensions and rivalries. With its military victory close at hand in Idlib, the government can use reconstruction to re-impose law and order.
For all intents and purposes, the Tehran Summit means the structure, governance and organization of post-conflict reconstruction in Syria are settled issues. The government has consolidated its dominance over the levers of reconstruction, rendering it virtually impervious to external pressure. The American hope, however modest, that its terror proxies in Idlib might someday set the stage for external actors to engage in partition programming in Syria, or through interventions influence the course of reconstruction and political process, is deeply misguided and out of picture now.
In brief, much has been accomplished this year in the campaign against terrorism in Syria. This struggle will require further vigilance, perseverance and sacrifice on the part of all parties involved. The Tehran Summit will help end the seven-year conflict and liquidate the hotbed of international terrorism in embattled Syria.
At the same time, it will help normalize the situation, promote the process of a political settlement, create the conditions for the return of refugees and internally displaced, herald international reconstruction support and funds, and take away any remaining pretext for the United States and its allies to occupy the country further and destabilize the entire region for some illicit interests and designs.