The Russian and Turkish Presidents met at Sochi, on 17 September 2018.
After their previous meeting on 7 September in Teheran, Russia has hardened its tone. For the first time, it recalled the illegal nature of the Turkish military presence in Idleb, emphasizing that this would have to stop.
The first thing that Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have done is to sign international cooperation agreements on the construction of the Turkish Stream pipe line and the civil nuclear central at Akkuyu; agreements particularly attractive to Ankara, whose economy has been totally totalled. In relation to the area currently occupied by the jihadists and by the Turkish Army in Syria – an area that roughly matches the province of Idleb – the two states have decided to give themselves another opportunity to separate the Syrian armed opposition from the jihadists.
In the past, identical agreements of de-escalation were established for this region and for others, either with the United States or with Turkey. They have all failed and they have become obsolete after six months. In practice, it was discovered that the jihadists and the Syrian armed opposition are composed of the same men, whose first calling is to make money, and their second, the sweetness of fighting and dying for their country. Often times, they have belonged to different groups for during the six-year duration of the conflict, hopping from one to another whenever it makes better financial sense to do so.
The Syrian Arab Republic has already announced that it considered it prudent to postpone the liberation of Idleb to after the US legislative elections on 6 November. In fact, if they attacked before then, that would provide sufficient grounds for the United Kingdom to lead a chemical operation under a false flag to corner President Trump to attack Syria during his electoral campaign.
President Erdogan presents to his people the agreement that he has just concluded, as a double victory. He has safeguarded the civil population of Idleb from war and obtained lucrative contracts from Russia.
However the reality is quite different: Turkey was in a very weak position to negotiate with its historical enemy and friend of a day, Russia. The Turkish economy only survives thanks to the presence of Russian tourists and Moscow has already demonstrated that it can make them come and go as it pleases.
• The economic agreements pulls Ankara to the fringes of Nato.
• On 5 October a line of demarcation will be established between the jihadist zone and the rest of Syria. This demilitarized zone will be under the joint responsibility of Russia and Turkey. The Turkish troops should withdraw some kilometres within the current zone, in order to let the Syrians liberate the motorway that links Damascus to Aleppo.
Thus, Russia separates Turkey from the Westerners, avoids placing its Syrian ally in danger and continues the liberation of Syrian territory without having to get involved in battles itself.