For Iran, the latest Sochi summit was not just about Syria

Al-Monitor | : On Feb. 14, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey held a summit in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss the latest developments in Syria and coordinate their activities in the war-torn country. The summit — the fourth of its kind within the framework of the Astana Peace Process — was supposed to focus on the future of Idlib and the east of the Euphrates as the two main regions still out of the control of the Syrian government, as well as the formation of the long-awaited Syrian Constitutional Committee. In the final statement issued after the summit, the three presidents reaffirmed the necessity of preserving Syria’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity and agreed to continue their cooperation on issues of common interest.

In his speech at the summit, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hailed Tehran’s cooperation with Moscow and Ankara as an effective measure in bringing security and stability to major parts of Syria. He also elaborated the Islamic Republic’s view toward the current developments in Syria, from the situation in Idlib to the fate of the Syrian Kurds and the post-war reconstruction process. However, it seems that for Tehran, the summit in Sochi was about something more than just updating the coordination between the three guarantor states of the cease-fire in Syria.

Over the past several months, there have been serious discussions about a possible new Turkish military operation in northern Syria and east of the Euphrates against the armed Kurdish groups. Ankara considers the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be a terrorist group, insisting that the military option should be used to eradicate the threat posed by the group against Turkey. While stating that Ankara’s concerns in this regard should be taken into account, Rouhani said that “the most sustainable way for removing these concerns is to cooperate with Syria’s legitimate government and the deployment of the Syrian forces along Syria’s international borders [with Turkey].” Touching upon the 1998 Adana Agreement between Ankara and Damascus, Rouhani further reiterated that the agreement was concluded via “the good offices” of Iran, and that Tehran is ready to once again act as a mediator between Turkey and Syria.

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