A New Erdogan-Putin Deal in Idlib May Help—For Now
- Soner Cagaptay
- Content Type
- Special Report
- The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
- Turkey, Russia, and Washington have compelling reasons to welcome a new ceasefire agreement, however
imperfect, but they still need to address the longer-term dangers posed by the Assad regime’s murderously
Recent fighting between Turkish and Syrian regime forces in Idlib province has seemingly wiped away the last
vestiges of the September 2018 Sochi agreement, brokered by Russian president Vladimir Putin as a way of
pausing hostilities and dividing control over the country’s last rebel-held province. Beginning last December,
renewed Russian and Syrian attacks against civilians sent a million residents fleeing toward the Turkish border,
creating another humanitarian disaster. Then, on February 27, thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed when their
unit was attacked in Idlib—Ankara’s largest single-day loss in Syria thus far.
Turkey initially blamed Bashar al-Assad for the deaths, but eyes soon turned to his Russian patron as the more
likely culprit, elevating tensions between Ankara and Moscow to a level not seen since Turkish forces shot down a
Russian plane in November 2015. Meanwhile, the Turkish military and its local partner forces launched a string of
attacks against the Syrian regime and its Iranian-backed militia allies.
On March 5, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Putin in Moscow to discuss these rising tensions. If the
two leaders reach another ceasefire deal, will it last any longer than the short-lived Sochi agreement? More
important, what effect might it have on the latest refugee crisis threatening to wash over Turkey and Europe?
- Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Syrian War, Negotiation
- Political Geography
- Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Idlib