Aim of Planned Istanbul Quartet Summit is to Find Solution for Idlib - Expert

© AFP 2023 / Anas AL-DYABSmoke rises near the Syrian village of Kafr Ain in the southern countryside of Idlib province after an airstrike on September 7, 2018
Smoke rises near the Syrian village of Kafr Ain in the southern countryside of Idlib province after an airstrike on September 7, 2018 - Sputnik International
German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference with the Turkish president in Berlin last week expressed hope that the summit of the leaders of Russia, Germany, Turkey and France on the situation in Syria and Idlib will be held in October. In mid-September, representatives of all four countries held a preparatory meeting in Istanbul.

Professor Celalettin Yavuz, an advisor to the Chairman of the Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on foreign policy and security and a retired captain of the Turkish Navy, told Sputnik that from the perspective of a Syrian settlement, the quartet summit is important not only in terms of security, fighting terrorism and preventing a new wave of refugees but also in terms of excluding the Americans, who are trying to consolidate their presence in the region, supporting the armed Kurdish formations and creating new bases.

"As you know, one of the main tasks in resolving the Idlib issue is to ensure the maximum safety of life and health of almost 3.5 million civilians in the Idlib district. If an armed clash would occur on this territory, this could result in the death of innocent civilians and a large-scale migration wave. Neither Turkey nor EU countries, especially Germany and France, want to allow events to develop this way. A significant burden of responsibility within the EU falls on the shoulders of Germany. As far as I know, there are currently about 1 million refugees in Germany. In France, there's not that many migrants, but the Macron government wants to maintain its influence in the Syrian-Lebanese region."

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Celalettin Yavuz also explained that US President Trump's policies of waging trade wars and putting pressure on EU countries, especially with regard to anti-Iranian sanctions, has led to a rapprochement of major EU countries and Turkey.

"I believe that Erdogan, who was the initiator of the idea of holding a quartet summit, could have personally discussed this issue with Putin, perhaps at a meeting in Sochi. The parties to the Syrian conflict settlement want to work out a plan for a sustainable resolution of the conflict. Turkey, Russia and the EU are aiming for this. No one wants to face a new flow of Syrian refugees on their borders."

However, there are differences between the main players and to work out such a plan won't be easy, Yavuz noted.

"First of all, the issue around Idlib is not fully resolved. It is not yet clear how the withdrawal of militants from the demilitarization zone will be carried out, and where they will go after that.

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Another equally important issue is related to the wide territory east of the Euphrates, which is currently controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). As you know, the United States aims to consolidate its position in the area through the Kurdish forces. The Americans are strengthening their military presence here, building new military bases and increasing the number of arms. Probably one of the most difficult tasks of the upcoming summit will be to find ways to solve the problem of the permanent American presence in this region."

Celalettin Yavuz believes that if France and Germany can find common ground with Turkey, Russia and Iran the issue of US presence, then it will be resolved much more effectively.

"The task of getting Germany and France on their side on this issue lies with Erdogan and Putin. If Paris and Berlin are convinced of the need to counter the permanent US presence in the region, this will be a significant step towards ensuring stability in Syria and in the Middle East as a whole," the Turkish military expert concluded.

The views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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