Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky:
“The fifth summit of the Astana group to resolve the conflict in Syria, held earlier this week in Ankara, reaffirmed: the prospects for peace in this country tormented by war are directly related to Russia’s ability to maintain balanced partnerships with key centers of power in the Middle East and take into account their different, sometimes opposite, interests .
Thanks to Russia’s military and diplomatic efforts, the situation in Syria over the past four years has ceased to be catastrophic. The country is saved, it is not on the verge of collapse and absorption by extremist and terrorist forces. It is difficult, slow, but a political settlement is moving forward, for example, the constitutional process. All key regional players advocate for the territorial integrity of Syria. Of course, serious problems remain.
Firstly, this is the situation in the province of Idlib, which over the past year has become almost completely controlled by terrorists. There is no simple solution. On the one hand, a large-scale military operation will turn into a humanitarian catastrophe, provoke a new flow of refugees and anger Turkey: Ankara fears not only a new wave of refugees, but also the liquidation of Syria remaining in Idlibroturk opposition, the establishment of BasharAsad’s control over the entire Arab part of Syria. On the other hand, it is impossible to keep Idlib as a stronghold of jihadists who terrorize the local population and attack other regions of the country that violate the de-escalation regime. Apparently, a series of counter-terrorism operations will have to be carried out without a large-scale offensive. The main thing is that close Russian-Turkish coordination on this issue continues, and Ankara reaffirms its commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria, does not seek to create an “state in the state” in Idlibeproturk.
Secondly, the prospects for the Kurdish part of Syria are unclear – east of the Euphrates. Despite the statements of Donald Trump about the intention to withdraw American troops from there, the United States still retains its illegal presence there. This is the main obstacle to the restoration of territorial integrity and reunification of the country today. However, sooner or later the United States will leave, and it is necessary to discuss further steps on Syrian Kurdistan now – again, together with Ankara and Tehran. Kurdish fears about Turkey’s possible actions will push them to Damascus. But ignoring the interests of Ankara would be wrong. Finding a solution to this complex equation is possible – the main thing is that all parties to the Astana format continue to be aware of their interest in partnerships.
Finally, the issue of the return of refugees from Europe to Syria is gradually moving forward, which requires the provision of large-scale assistance to this country, and its withdrawal from international isolation as a political settlement is implemented. Soon a new summit will be held in the format of Russia – Turkey – France – Germany, initiated by Recep Erdogan.
Of course, there are a lot of problems, and progress in Syria is developing more slowly than we would like. But the main thing is that he is, and that there is no regression. The guarantee of this is the partnership of Russia with all the key powers of the Middle East and its ability to take into account their interests even when they initially clash with each other. “