As Astana gets ready for Syria peace conference, opposition remains divided
Kazakhstan’s role will be limited to hosting the meeting. This means that Russia, Iran and Turkey will play the main role in solving the regional crisis. Erdogan reiterates partnership with Moscow. Only Syrian opposition groups sponsored by Ankara will be at the meeting. Other groups have been blocked.
Astana (AsiaNews) – Kazakhstan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has announced that preparations for the Syria peace conference have been completed. The meeting will bring together the various factions to the Syrian civil war and hopes to restore stability in the troubled country.
Kazakh First Deputy Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tellobrda told Interfax-Kazakhstan yesterday morning that "Our country greets the talks (of peace) and we are ready to provide the necessary space."
This suggests that Kazakhstan will only play host, with no say in any other matter. Russia, Iran and Turkey, with the backing of the United Nations, will thus run the talks.
The peace talks will move from Geneva (Switzerland) to Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, set to open on 23 January in the presence of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan De Mistura.
De Mistura’s presence reiterates Moscow’s position that the Astana conference will be the continuation of the work started in Geneva, even though everyone knows that those unwelcome in Geneva will unlikely be welcome in the Kazakh capital.
The talks come at a time when Washington is undergoing a transfer of power and Europe has lost international focus, thus highlighting the roles of Russia, Iran, and the new Mideast balance of power.
NATO member Turkey will also be at the conference, guaranteeing a balance in a region where the West seems to have been definitely defeated.
A statement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday shows how Ankara is trying to enhance its role of Ankara in the complex Middle East.
Turkey took historic steps, Erdogan said, preparing the ground for peace in Syria because the terrorist organizations are trying to import the war in Syria and Iraq to Turkey.
Such justification for Turkey’s interest suggest otherwise, considering the rest of his speech in which the Turkish president mentions the relationship between Ankara and Washington and very sensitive relations vis-à-vis the fight against terrorism.
The Turkish leader noted that Obama’s various choices have raised questions about Ankara’s relations with Washington. This year, he added, will be the year of foreign policy and action on solving the Cyprus problem.
However, to better understand the rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow despite the murder of the Russian ambassador by those who wanted to hinder it, as Erdogan indicated, we must turn to recent statements by Turkey’s foreign minister.
In an official statement Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu noted that ending support for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is important in US-Turkish relations.
Turkish obsession with the Kurds better explains the Russian attitude, disliked by Syria, of turning a blind eye on Ankara’s redlines over the city of al-Bab, to prevent the union between Syrian and Turkish Kurds.
Meanwhile, as preparations for peace talks in Astana continue, more information is available about the parties.
According to Kadri Jamil (pictured), secretary of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation opposition group, only armed groups sponsored by Turkey were invited to the conference.
Jamil noted that he was not invited to the Astana Conference and that many Syrian opposition groups have been prevented from taking part in the talks.
The same problem affected the Geneva talks when it was impossible to have a single delegation for the Syrian opposition. (PB)