Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reignited a war of words with the president of neighboring Syria, calling him a “terrorist” who has no place in negotiations over the country’s future…
On Wednesday, Erdogan said it was “absolutely impossible” to move ahead on Syrian peace talks while Assad remains in power, according to Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu…
Assad must go, Erdogan says as Syria war winds down, by Anne Barnard, New York Times, Dec 27, 2017
… Mr. Erdogan appeared to be reminding Russia that it cannot dictate Syria’s future alone, especially on issues sensitive to Turkey, most notably those involving Syria’s Kurdish groups, which Turkey sees as enemies.
Russia on Tuesday [Dec 26] said that representatives of a semiautonomous Kurdish area in northeastern Syria would be allowed to take part in talks that Russia is hosting next month — an inclusion opposed by Turkey…
Russian and Syrian diplomats discuss preparations for Syrian National Dialogue Congress
MOSCOW — Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met on Thursday with Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad to discuss preparations for the Syrian National Dialogue Congress to be hosted by the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“In a trust-based conversation, they discussed the development of the situation in Syria and around it with an emphasis on a set of issues for a political settlement of the Syrian crisis,” the ministry said. “Special attention was paid to the results of the eighth international meeting on Syria, held in Astana on December 21-22 and to preparations for holding the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, slated for January 29-30 in Sochi,” it said.
The meeting was initiated by the Syrian diplomat. Earlier on Thursday, Bogdanov, who is also Russian president’s envoy for the Middle East and Africa, met with Iran’s Ambassador in Moscow Mehdi Sanai.
Countries-guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire – Russia, Iran and Turkey – agreed at the international meeting in the Kazakh capital of Astana to hold the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi on January 29-30.
The forum will focus on drawing up Syria’s new constitution and holding elections on its basis under the UN auspices. Russia, Iran and Turkey will hold a meeting in Sochi on January 19-20 in preparation for the Congress.
Syrian Kurds will be invited to Sochi talks in Russia, Press TV, Dec 27, 2017 (full text)
Sipan Hemo, the commander of the People’s Protection Units, the main Kurdish militia group also known as the YPG, said Wednesday that Russia would allow 155 representatives of Syria’s Kurdish region to attend the talks in Sochi next month.
Kurds now control territories in northern and northeastern Syria. They have been an influential force in the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terrorists although the government has mostly treated them like other armed factions that have opposed Damascus over the past six years.
However, the main barrier for the Kurds to attend the talks on Syria’s fate has been Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish militant group outlawed by Ankara.
Kurds have never been represented in the peace talks on Syria, whether hosted by the United Nations or other parties.
Talks in Sochi, Russia’s main resort on the Black Sea, are slated for January 29-30. Russia has yet to announce the full list of the invitees for the meeting, which follows a similar initiative by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Kazakhstan.
Many hope the talks could bring an end or significantly reduce the militancy in Syria although the United Nations insists that the initiative should not circumvent efforts led by the world body for reaching a political solution in Syria.
Many groups that have attended previous UN-led talks in Geneva, especially those close to Saudi Arabia, announced Monday that they would boycott the Sochi talks.