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Turkiye, Syria rapprochement talks to resume in Baghdad

June 11, 2024 at 1:55 pm

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani meet after the official welcoming ceremony at Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq on April 22, 2024 [TUR Presidency/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Anadolu Agency]

A series of political statements from Iraqi and Turkish officials since earlier this month have brought the issue of Turkiye’s rapprochement with Syria back to the fore.

The rapprochement efforts initiated by Moscow in December 2022, collapsed a month later, as announced by Russia’s envoy to Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev. Despite this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attributed the continued stumbling to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

In light of these developments, it has been reported that Iraq is leading new rapprochement efforts. An Iraqi government source mentioned that a meeting between Syrian and Turkish officials will soon be held in Baghdad. According to the Iraqi Shafaq news agency, Iraq’s efforts have led to an agreement for a meeting aimed at dissolving disputes and restoring relations between Ankara and Damascus.

“Iraq’s mediation efforts between Syria and Turkiye have resulted in a planned meeting between officials from the two neighbouring nations in Baghdad,” a government source said last week.

“In the upcoming days, Baghdad will host a meeting between Syrian and Turkish officials to facilitate dialogue, as part of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani’s initiative to reconcile the two countries and restore their relations,” the source told the news agency.

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Prime Minister Al-Sudani aims to reconcile the two countries, and there is “significant welcome” from both Damascus and Ankara for Iraq’s mediation. Discussions around the meeting coincided with a phone call between Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad and the Iraqi premier, covering issues like border security and the Israeli war on Gaza.

Last week, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad reiterated that any dialogue with Turkiye depends on Ankara’s withdrawal from Syrian territories. Earlier this month, Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler confirmed Turkiye’s readiness for military withdrawal under specific conditions.

Researcher Mahmoud Alloush told Syrian outlet Enab Baladi that Al-Sudani’s mediation might be driven by a Turkish request, reflecting Baghdad’s new foreign policy.

“Without a broad framework for any progress in the negotiations between Ankara and Damascus, this track cannot succeed,” he added, noting that there is a “need for greater Russian-Iranian involvement alongside Baghdad to push the process forward, without relying on the Iraqi government’s mediation alone.”

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