Presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran Meet to Plot Future of Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak today in Tehran.
The summit must determine the course of the war in Syria and is especially crucial for the fate of Idlib, the last province still in the hands of the rebels. Four questions to Middle East correspondent Olaf Koens about this summit.
The West has less and less control over the war in Syria. There are still negotiations at the United Nations in Geneva, for example about a new constitution for Syria, but decision-making is somewhere else.
Under pressure from Russia, peace negotiations have taken place in Kazakhstan in recent years. Together with Russia, Iran is the big player in the conflict.
Iranian troops and militias have been fighting for years on the side of the government army of Syrian President Assad.
The presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey had already met twice in barely a year, according to the Kremlin, there were talks on the phone seventeen times between Putin, Rouhani and Erdogan. The West does not have much more to crumble into the milk.
This time everything revolves around Idlib. That is a city and a province in the north of Syria where rebels and jihadists hold power. When you look at the map, you see that this is the only area that President Assad still has to recapture before he regains control of Syria.
The Syrian Kurds also control a large part of the country, but the Syrian Kurds and the Assad government often cooperate. There is an unwritten non-aggression treaty between the two.
And with that, Idlib is the last stronghold of resistance. There are many refugees from other parts of Syria, and there are many rebels and jihadists in Idlib. In previous fights, they often received safe conduct in other places.
Entire cities have been evacuated, areas have been exchanged, and with buses, many thousands of opponents of President Assad have been brought to Idlib. When Assad gets Idlib in his hands, he has won the war.