Assad Conditions Meeting Erdogan, ‘If It Serves Syria’s Interest’
The recent statement of the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, in Moscow surprised many Russians and others, who sensed a victorious tone.
Assad did not refer to the political path to resolving the Syrian crisis and imposed conditions for normalization with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He told Channel One Russia that the negotiations began at the security level and the level of defense ministers, noting that officials are discussing the meeting at the level of assistant foreign ministers and may reach the foreign ministers.
Assad asserted that the most critical issue is maintaining the national interest.
The results of Assad’s visit to Moscow may be related to the faltering efforts to announce a breakthrough in normalizing relations between Damascus and Ankara. The Kremlin hoped that the talks would result in clear agreements.
During the talks, President Vladimir Putin deliberately set premises, indicating the success of the Russian armed forces in undermining the terrorist threat.
Putin prioritized ensuring internal stability and improving the economic and living situation.
In the meeting between the two foreign ministers, Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that more favorable conditions for moving towards a political settlement concerning Syria have matured.
Lavrov noted that Moscow seeks to reach fair agreements based on Security Council Resolution No. 2254.
In response, the Syrian position lauded the Russian role in sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the need for all illegal foreign forces to leave the country.
In press statements after the meeting, Assad touched on several issues related to Syria’s position within the Russian axis in the face of the new world war.
He escalated his rhetoric against US policies, affirming his country’s recognition of the “new Russian borders,” and mocked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, describing him as a puppet of the West.
Assad touched on all the issues on the international agenda as an essential part of the axis of the ongoing Russian war. However, he did not refer to the political settlement in Syria, the Syrians’ dialogue, or improving his country’s disastrous living conditions.
Meanwhile, Assad maintained his declared positions on the normalization issue with Türkiye and renewed his conditions for meeting Erdogan.
He mocked the statements of Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who claimed the Turkish presence in Syria was not an occupation, ignoring the suggestion put forward by Russia, which confirmed Türkiye’s readiness to withdraw according to understandings that meet the security interests.
It is possible to proceed from the Kremlin statement to investigate the results of the Russian-Syrian summit, mainly since all official Russian statements ignored the ideas put forward by Assad.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the two presidents discussed several issues, including military-technical cooperation and the normalization of relations between Damascus and Ankara.
Peskov explained that the talks could result in a decision in the coming weeks or months to sign an essential document on further trade and economic cooperation development.
He described the negotiations as substantial, noting that senior officials briefed both presidents.
A Russian diplomatic source said that Assad’s media statements and behavior during the negotiations were surprising, as the Syrian president was unwilling to delve into the principles of a political solution.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat the source said it was unfortunate that the Syrian president was unaware how unstable the situation in the de-escalation zone in Idlib was, and that coordination with Türkiye was an essential guarantee for arranging this matter later.
A source familiar with the talks said a clear message was conveyed to the Syrian leadership about the need to deal seriously and positively with the issues. Based on that, it was agreed that Syrian and Turkish officials would start meetings.
A diplomatic source recalled that the Russian Ministry of Finance refrained from responding to the Russian and Syrian Economic Committee’s requests regarding funding some projects or giving loans due to the lack of guarantees.
The situation requires a special decision approved by the special monitoring authorities to maintain federal laws.