There was one more chance, and that was taken in Sochi - YASIN AKTAY

There was one more chance, and that was taken in Sochi

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan achieved a spectacular outcome with the strong will he presented the moment all hope was lost as a humanitarian tragedy was approaching Idlib. The agreement he reached with Russian President Vladimir Putin by going to Sochi, flourished hope for humanity.

The agreement he reached with Putin stopped the military operation targeting Idlib. Russia will ensure that Bashar al-Assad does not attack the de-conflict zone and Turkey will ensure that opposition forces purged of heavy weaponry do not attack Russia or the regime forces from that point. A 15 to 20 kilometer disarmament area is being formed in Idlib and it is set to be completed by Oct. 15. Turkish and Russian soldiers will carry out joint patrols in this disarmament area.

Yesterday, Erdoğan perhaps achieved the biggest gain in the name of humanitarian politics, which he has been leading since the start of the Syria crisis. The fundamental principle of the politics Erdoğan has led since the start of the Syria crisis was to prevent the loss of innocent civilian lives, prevent people from having to leave their homeland and protect the rights of those who are forced to flee Assad's oppression.

Today, Idlib is the only place in Syrian territory where those fleeing Assad's tyranny are able to take shelter and be safe. Hence, the area that had a population of one million not so long ago has became a crowded area with 3.5 to 4 million inhabitants. This population consists of those who saved their lives and took shelter in Idlib from the ethnic cleansing operations of the Assad regime, and terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, Daesh and the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Of course, the majority of them oppose the regime, because they are victims of the regime.

The sole attitude toward the opposition is to either slaughter them or throw them in prison and make them want to give up on life with the harshest conditions with tortures that disregard human dignity. Hence armed battle against Assad has become the most natural right of the Syrian people, and as a matter of fact, it had become the sole solution.

It was Assad's oppression that gave the Syrian people the legitimacy and right to revolt against the regime. This right and legitimacy is recognized by the entire world. As the situation was known very well, this right was given by Russia too. Iran, which supports Hezbollah as a savage tool of massacre and terrorism in Syria, also had to accept what Russia recognizes.

Therefore, those who sat at the table during the negotiations which started in Astana with those who resorted to weapons in their rightful revolt against Assad, have been considered a legitimate side.

However, the offensive that was approaching step by step in Idlib but was stopped last minute following Turkey's insistence was nothing other than an opportunistic utilization of the time gained through Astana. Russian authorities attempted to bury the spirit of Astana by saying that they would consider anyone who carries weapons other than the Assad forces as terrorists.

In fact, Turkey's duty was nothing other than reminding them of the agreement in Astana.

Thinking that they caught an opportunity to eliminate the opposition forces they chased to Idlib, Assad and his ally Iran forgot the promises they made as they approached the incident with a great appetite. Thus, the Assad regime showed once more how unreliable it is.

It is clear once more that the sole guarantee to protect Syrians against Assad is to break his influence and keep him away from his people. Unfortunately, there are no mechanisms to control how he is treating the people in the areas under his control by the hand of his Shabbiha or his intelligence services, but news is reported daily about the disappearance of hundreds of people, their arrest, or slaughter due to the heavy torture conditions in prisons.

The agreement reached in Sochi was actually an outcome Turkey sought to achieve at the Tehran summit. Yet, the Tehran summit that was broadcast in front of the eyes of the world 10 days ago was far from giving hope. So much so that on his way back from Tehran, President Erdoğan's disappointment was reflected in his words, and this spread the pessimism that a tragedy was fast approaching in Idlib. It appeared that neither Iran nor Russia cared that Turkey would be the one to pay the price for any humanitarian losses and migrations that may happen in the face of a likely attack. But it was apparent that Russia was still more open to dialogue regarding this matter.

Erdoğan did not give up and insisted on achieving an outcome through his years’ worth of diplomacy style with Russia. Frankly, what Erdoğan did was simply reap the fruits of his own specific foreign policy.

That this result was achieved in the bilateral meeting with Putin and not at the summit attended by the Iranian leader ten days ago is certainly a matter that requires attention. Iran's political and religious orientation being so far from humanitarian sensitivities is, of course, thought-provoking in terms of the values Tehran represents.

It would not have caused Iran any losses if it upheld at least some of the values Erdoğan represents in the field where it was shown once more that Russia is the sole determinant and Assad has no value or say. On the contrary, Iran would have gained a great deal. If only Iran could have acted differently.

There is no doubt that the agreement reached in Sochi will have many repercussions.

Through this incident, Erdoğan proved once more his sincerity and determination toward all the values he represents, and thus gained great appreciation again, primarily in the Arab world. However, he also awakened a sense of gratitude in Europe as well by stopping a humanitarian tragedy that EU countries have been following with great concern, as its results would have been a great burden for Europe too.


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