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An End to Syria’s Civil War : The Adana accord
Putin’s chosen mechanism for resolving Ankara’s and Damascus’s separate visions for postwar Syria is the Adana accord. The agreement, which was signed by Syria and Turkey in 1998 but eventually disregarded, guaranteed security along the Turkish-Syrian border and, most importantly, declared the Kurdistan Workers’ Party a terrorist organization. Damascus has offered qualified agreement, but it is unlikely that Erdogan would agree. The Turkish president fears that even if the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Group is incorporated into the Syrian army, it would remain semiautonomous. Additionally, this solution would require the restoration of communication between Erdogan and Assad. Despite some intelligence cooperation, Turkey remains—at least for now—committed to pushing Assad from power. In January, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Moscow and Ankara continue to disagree over “whether President Bashar al Assad should stay in office.”
And Moscow’s relations with the other Astana co-convener, Iran, are replete with suspicions. Initially, there seemed to be a division of labor between the two: Russia provided air support, while Iran and Hezbollah assisted Syrian government forces on the ground. Now, as the war seems to be winding down, Russia appears intent on facilitating a peace with buy-in from many stakeholders, while Iran is committed to solidifying its gains in Syria. It’s not clear how the other players, most notably Turkey and even the Syrian government, would react to the permanent Iranian presence Tehran would like to secure.
Iran’s efforts to further entrench itself in Syria will be exceedingly difficult for Russia to handle. Over the years, Moscow has developed good relations with Tel Aviv, based in large measure on trade and the fact that more than 20 percent of the Israeli population is Russian speaking. During the Syrian civil war, Russia has for all practical purposes given Israel a green light to attack Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria and to prevent the transshipment of Iranian equipment and munitions to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Additionally, Russia negotiated to keep Iranian forces 85 kilometers away from the Israeli border. Yet, in September 2018, when Syrian forces accidentally shot down a Russian jet during an Israeli attack, Moscow blamed Israel for instigating the attack. Israel expressed regret for the accident—even though it was not directly responsible—but it took almost six months for relations to improve.
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