Why is upcoming four-party summit important for Syria
Updated 19:04, 05-Sep-2019
Taleb Ibrahim

Editor's note: Dr. Taleb Ibrahim is a political analyst based in Damascus in Syria. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Russia, Turkey, France, and Germany plan to hold a four-party summit this September to discuss issues related to Syria. Since the beginning of the destructive war in Syria, it was clear for experts that it is more than a domestic issue. 

Western countries and some Arabic ones have tried various approaches to intervene in the Syrian internal affairs, and as a result, Syria become a battlefield. The Syrian war turned out to be "the war of others within Syria."

The internal Syrian issue, for a lot of reasons, became an international affair. Subsequently, many conferences and meetings were held to discuss the peace settlement and the future of Syria.

At the same time, wars began to be more brutal and devastating, and more players began to join the bloody war. By 2014, a new terrorist organization, ISIL, appeared, and it is the most terrible and dangerous. On the other hand, Syrian army was fighting to keep the country unified and concrete.

Many experts and political analysts believe that war was waged against Syria for geopolitical reasons, like the matter of building the "new middle east" and of energy supplies, and the war within Syria is an intelligence war, and a proxy war where all parties were fighting their battles using Syrian blood for their own interests.

Likewise, the political process was similar and consistent with the above mentioned military operations, with many regional and international parties being involved in both. There was the Geneva peace conference which took place on January 22, 2014; the Montreux one on January 23 to 31, 2014; and again in Geneva (Switzerland) in February 10 to 15, 2014.

Many international organizations like the UN, Arab league, European Union and the organization of Islamic cooperation together with another 40 countries attended this conference.

The results of the Geneva conference were controversial: Russia and its allies said that Assad will stay in power, and he will lead the transitional period. This is also the conference's final decision. U.S., Turkey, the Arab League, and the Western powers said that he must leave by the end of this period.

But the result changed soon after the conference, and it became not valid as a basis for political settlement. Then the Syrian conflict- involved parties began to look for other opportunities to achieve their goals through political means.

A Syrian flag in Deraa, Syria, July 4, 2018. /VCG Photo

A Syrian flag in Deraa, Syria, July 4, 2018. /VCG Photo

By the end of 2014, when ISIL became much stronger and more powerful, all parties began to reevaluate the situation inside Syria. they also started to look again for a new political settlement.

By the end of September 2015, Russia began a very large military operation in Syria to support the Syrian government. Since then, Russia became the most powerful and strong player in Syria, in both political and military realms.

As a result to the Russian intervention in Syria, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became sure that he will not be able to remove Assad from power by using terrorists as a tool for achieving his purpose; but Western nations became sure that Assad will not leave, and they had to look for another format for political resolution.

So we had seen Astana meeting with Iran, Russia, Turkey, Syrian government, Syrian opposition, and others. This conference was more successful than Geneva because it expressed a new power – balance on the ground.

After that, by the beginning of 2018, Russia called for a Syrian dialogue conference between Syrian government and the Syrian opposition in Sochi, which recommended for forming a constitutional committee to put a new constitution to Syria, and the idea was welcomed by many regional and international parties.

On October, 27, 2018, Russia, Turkey, France, and Germany held a summit to exchange views about the constitutional committee in Syria, and any accord or understanding between those powers should be reflected on the Syrian peace settlement.

However, as the previous rounds of Syrian dialogue didn’t make change, the upcoming summit may push for some progress.   

On July, 10, 2019, according to the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a real progress was achieved on the way of forming the constitutional committee in Syria. This means we have a real political advance on the Syrian peace process, and this will give Russia good cards in the upcoming summit to convince the other three parties to be more open in dealing with the Syrian government in the matters of reconstruction, and to normalize their relations with Syria’s Assad.   

The upcoming summit among Russia, Turkey, France, and Germany is very promising. This is important because it may change the political atmosphere between Russia and western partners in Syria, and it is very much possible that we will see a real advance in forming the Syrian constitutional committee which might be accepted by the four.

(Cover Image, L-R: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a joint press conference following the four-way summit on Syria in Istanbul, Turkey, October 27, 2018. /Xinhua Photo)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com.)