Building Syria Between Putin, Macron, Merkel & Erdogan

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, November 1

During the quadripartite summit held last week between the Russian, French, German, and Turkish leaders regarding the situation in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been supportive of the Syrian rebels, asked his counterparts to take an active stance in the reconstruction of Syria. His demand was politely rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Emmanuel Macron. Macron told Erdogan that the Syrian regime’s war against its opponents has led to millions of Syrians refugees, and that the only political solution to the situation on the ground must allow all Syrians to return to their country and live in peace. Macron insisted that the regime must negotiate a comprehensive political solution with all factions within Syrian society. This is in line with the American position, which refuses to accept a situation in which Assad continues to attack his opponents using Iranian backing, while claiming to negotiate a political solution. Like Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin also asked his European counterparts for help. In doing so, he admitted that Russia cannot, alone, bare the cost of rebuilding the war-torn country. It is true that Putin imposed his country’s presence in the Middle East, and perhaps globally, through his intervention in Syria, but Russia no longer has the strength of the former Soviet Union. Putin’s appeal to France and Germany for a more active intervention in the reconstruction of Syria therefore reflects a true Russian weakness. Moscow needs Europe in order to promote its goals. However, its plan to bring European nations on board will remain impossible so long as the situation on the ground remains unchanged. What solutions this summit might bring remains unclear. In the meantime, all participating nations expressed “modest” expectations about the prospect of mutual cooperation. This becomes all the more difficult given the fact that the United Nations launched its own parallel process of Syrian reconstruction under the supervision of UN envoy Staffan de Mistura. There are simply too many hands in the Syrian pot. –Randa Takiya al-Din

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