Ankara is reportedly trying to get closer to Damascus in a bid to gain a key partner in the fight against the Kurds

Turkey moves closer to Syria in a bid to wipe out the PKK

AFP/ADEM ALTAN - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continues to make diplomatic efforts in the region in an attempt to establish himself as one of the most influential countries in the Middle East as he seeks to portray himself as a 'reliable' partner.  

Although Turkey has shown itself to be an opponent of the al-Assad regime, even linking it on multiple occasions as a financier of jihadism in Syria, Ankara is trying to move closer to Damascus, following in the footsteps of other countries, in the normalisation of relations with Syria after the civil war. 


Although the al-Assad government has not made any pronouncements on a possible rapprochement - a situation that is still far from being staged - Turkey continues to cooperate and strengthen ties with Russia, another of Syria's main partners. The key to this rapprochement was seen in the meeting on 5 August, which brought Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart together for the second time in just a month. At this meeting, both leaders discussed the current situation of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, after Russia decided to begin its invasion six months ago, as well as the current economic crisis in Syria.

In this sense, Russia is trying to play an important role as a mediator in bringing Syria and Turkey closer together as potential partners, something that would also be a diplomatic victory for Moscow, as it would have an alliance of marked geostrategic importance, which would also serve to expand and strengthen its influence.  


In addition to Russia, Turkey's rapprochement with Syria is in itself an important strategy for Turkey to achieve its goals of eliminating the PKK after having launched several military operations aimed at eliminating members of the political party. In this sense, al-Assad's government would now be a key player in ending the 'Kurdish threat' in Turkish territories and northern Syria, where they currently live in different cantons. All the more so after Ankara also launched an operation against the Kurds in Iraq, causing significant casualties among the Kurdish side.

After the meeting, which is in itself highly symbolic, the secretary general of the left-wing nationalist Vatan party, Özgür Bursal, said that the meeting is "a historic opportunity" for Turkey to put an end to the Workers' Kurdistan Party, which they themselves label "a terrorist threat". 


According to him, the success of the "anti-terrorist" operation that Turkey started with the aim of wiping out the Kurdistan regions in northern Syria lies in "regional cooperation", where "rapprochement between Turkey and Syria should play a key role. Recently, a delegation of our party, led by Ethem Sandzhak, held high-level meetings with Russian government officials. In case Turkish-Syrian cooperation is established, Russia is ready to declare its full support for the operation planned by Turkey," he said.

He added that, if cooperation between Syria and Turkey is finally established, the situation could lead to a change "in the global balance of power and put an end to the US presence in the region", in a context in which, he said, Syria would cooperate in eliminating the PKK since, "recent statements and actions of the Syrian government point to the formation of appropriate conditions for the elimination of the threat of terrorism from the Kurdistan Workers' Party". 


On the other hand, the member of the Turkish parliament for the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) emphasised that, despite Turkey being a NATO member, it has managed to maintain good relations with the Eastern bloc, especially with Russia. Turkey, he said, has been able to maintain a dialogue "with both the West and the East" and is making "efforts to ensure that regional wealth is available to all countries".