Turkish, Syrian intelligence chiefs meet on security issues
Turkey and Syria have coordinated on certain security issues, despite the lack of diplomatic relations between the two.
Turkey’s spy chief, Hakan Fidan and Syria’s head of intelligence, Ali Mamlouk, held a new meeting under Russian mediation, according to Intelligence Online, a French publication.
The meeting’s results were “not convincing,” but it gave the space to “Ankara and Damascus to set out their demands,” the publication explained.
“Any discussion with the regime would be about joint work against the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces]. The meeting would also discuss political negotiations between the regime and opposition, in addition to refugees’ issues and security guarantees for their return,” Suhail al-Ghazi, an Italy-based Syria researcher, told The New Arab.
The meeting came after Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu sparked controversy by announcing that he had met his Syrian counterpart on the sidelines of a conference in October.
“We need to bring the opposition and regime together for reconciliation somehow, or there will be no permanent peace,” Çavuşoğlu said in a news conference on 12 August.
He also alluded to ongoing meetings between the countries’ intelligence services to “tackle major issues.”
Thousands in opposition-controlled areas in Syria protested against the FM’s comments, burning Turkish flags and chanting against normalisation with the Syrian regime.
While meetings between intelligence chiefs are rare and generally infrequent, they do not necessarily indicate a shift towards normalisation between the two countries, analysts explained.
The meeting was “nothing special,” Ömer Özkizilcik, a Turkish foreign policy and security analyst, told The New Arab.
“They have long been in contact to coordinate security matters, [including] border security, terrorism (ISIS in particular), and other issues related to intelligence,” Özkizilcik said.
Still, despite relatively consistent security coordination, there remain stumbling points between the two countries. Turkey refuses to end its support for the opposition in northwest Syria while the regime continues to work with the SDF, al-Ghazi explained.
While the ruling AKP government is nominally against normalisation, there is a growing set of voices within Turkey urging reconciliation with Damascus. The political opposition has made the return of Syrian refugees in Turkey an important part of its political platform, and some see making with Damascus as a way to facilitate this.
Source: The New Arab
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Observatory.