The Special Correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda Aleksandr Kots answered the five main questions about the agreement between the two Heads of State that was reached on October 22nd in Sochi…
Aleppo did not sleep on Wednesday night. Columns of vehicles, playing music full blast and flying national flags, rolled around the city, celebrating the agreement between Putin and Erdogan over returning nearly 30% of the territory to Syria and stopping fighting in the northeast of the country. Assad has already stated that he supports the signed memorandum and is ready to send Syrian border guards to the northeast of the country. And on Wednesday morning, a convoy of Russian military police moved from Manbij towards the border Kobani. According to the memorandum, after the withdrawal of all Kurdish units from the region, Russians will patrol the border areas.
A convoy of “Tigers” and “Typhoons” slowly drove through Kobani, accompanied by a cavalcade of motorcyclists who drove alongside and waved their hands. The schoolchildren who poured onto the street first looked with mistrust at our procession, but then for one of them it dawned: “Rus! Rus!” “Friends! Friends!” chanted the children.
Leaving the city, the column went along the border to the west, ascending up one of the border posts.
“Today, according to the agreement reached earlier between the heads of the Russian Federation and Turkey, from 12:00 our military police began patrolling along the border,” said Igor Seritsky, a representative of the command of the Russian group, who came for reconnaissance. “On this base there will be a Military Police unit, which will carry out patrols”.
As was reported earlier by the Defence Ministry, the Russian military “will assist in ensuring the security of the population and maintaining law and order, as well as assist in the withdrawal of units of Kurdish self-defence groups and their weapons 30 kilometers from the Syrian-Turkish border.” These actions are set out in a memorandum adopted at a meeting between Putin and Erdogan on Tuesday. “Now Turkey will be bordered by Russia in the south”, joked my friend Syrian journalist.
1. What was agreed
In fact, a section from Tell Abyad to Ras al-Ain remains under Turkey’s control. It’s 120 kilometers along the border and 30 kilometers inland. Erdogan will obviously withdraw his troops from the zone soon, leaving Ankara-controlled militant units there. Plus, a 10-kilometre security zone is formed throughout the border, which Ankara will have no control over. However, it will be patrolled jointly by Turks and Russians. In fact, this option allowed Erdogan to save face, but the most important thing is to stop the military operation. This, of course, is not the 480 desired kilometers with a width of 30, but allows to gain a foothold on the М-4 road from Aleppo to the border with Iraq.
2. What Turkey Got
In the occupied territories, Erdoğan will certainly try to resolve the issue of refugees flooding Turkey. According to the most modest signs, about 3 million people fled north-eastern Syria. Initially, Ankara planned to settle them in the buffer zone along the entire border. Now Erdoğan has only 120 kilometers. However, it is not yet a fact that most refugees will want to return. Some already live on Turkish territory, some won’t want to give up their benefits and other “privileges”. However, Ankara always has legitimate leverage over refugees – it is possible to simply not renew their status.
3. What Syria Got
Firstly, control over territories that seemed lost forever. Because few believed that the Americans, having set their zones of influence in Syria, would abandon them. So even a month ago, the thought of reaching the northeast borders seemed fantastic. Today, it can be said that Assad, thanks to Russian diplomacy, is stitching together a country tearing apart at the seams.
Secondly, Damascus is returning the government-loyal Arab population, which has been ruled by the Kurdish minority in recent years.
Thirdly, with a competent policy of reconciliation, it receives powerful fighting formations of Kurds, who, when working correctly with them, become allies of government forces.
The fate of the Euphrates oil fields remains unclear. Turkey did not reach them, so there is no word in the signed memorandum about hydrocarbons. Meanwhile, there are already ideas in Washington to leave a small contingent of US military personnel in the oil field area – “to help Kurds protect infrastructure”. Obviously, Damascus believes that it will do so itself.
4. What the Kurds got
In fact, compared to the Syrian army, Kurdish formations look more focused. And during their operation against ISIS, they really completed the most difficult tasks, proving themselves to be fearless warriors. This quality is not to be taken away from them. But they chose the wrong ally. And instead of helping their country, they decided to separate themselves. Today, thanks to Russia, the Kurds will not receive the ethnogenocide that Turkey would certainly arrange for them. Whatever personal qualities SDF or PKK fighters possess, they would have nothing to counter the regular army with aviation.
5. What Russia got
Russia is shifting the Middle East’s decision-making center to its own side, solving the worst military-political puzzle without the use of force. And thus overplaying the wretched US, which is used to “solving issues” through “humanitarian bombing”, bribery, and promises that can not be kept. Together with peace and Syrian territories, Moscow is regaining its status as a leader in a complex region with which it cannot but be reckoned. And these are image things that have no dollar equivalent.
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