Tripartite summit in Tehran: Idlib operation and the end of terrorist crisis in Syria

Tehran hosted a tripartite summit with the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran on September 7, 2018. According to many observers, the summit result can determine the fate of Idlib in the northwest of Syria.

The fate of Idlib is still uncertain, awaiting the tripartite summit with the presidents of Turkey, Russia and Iran in Tehran, where the leaders of the three countries make a final decision on the future of the Idlib and the opposing militant groups.

Iranian, Russian and Turkish authorities met in Tehran on Friday to discuss various issues among which was Syria’s Idlib as Damascus is getting ready for an operation to end domination of armed and terrorist groups.

Since 2017, widespread coordination between Moscow and Tehran, as the most prominent Damascus allies, and Ankara has emerged as advocates of the Syrian case, which has led to the Astana talks a year and a half ago with important decisions on crisis reduction in Syria. The Tehran summit was held when the Syrian army is ready for operations, and while the West has started its own moves.

Syrian affairs analysts and observers believe these talks and their results can affect the start of the Um Almaarek (fate of Idlib) and the zero hour of the Syrian military operation, and thus there is high likelihood of an operation post the summit.

Damascus insists on dominating its entire territory, and the Russians are determined to get rid of Tahrir al-Sham’s and has urged Turkey to find a solution, especially since the Tahrir al-Sham group has been a major obstacle to the ceasefire and peace process in Syria.

The Russians continue to send drone from Idlib to their air base in Hamim. Moscow does not find the current situation and security conditions with its demands in Tartus and Latakia. Meanwhile, Turkey, concerned about the wave of displaced people from the battle of Idlib has strengthened its forces on the border with Syria. Turkey has a widespread political and military impact on Idlib.

So far, the summit’s details have not been posted but the Tehran summit might decide to create a security belt in Idlib with the aim of protecting the borders of Turkey and Russian bases and dealing with the Jabhat al-Nusra Front.

It is undeniable that Damascus wants Idlib under control of the Syrian government, and does not consider the long-term solution that Turkey seeks to satisfy the Tahrir al-Sham group. Moscow, however, has a similar view of the Syrian government. The intense Russian and Syrian airstrikes on the outskirts of Idlib are proof that Moscow and Damascus do not have much patience.

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated, “Our patience about Idlib is not indefinite.”

Damascus and its allies can care less about Trump threats on invading Syria, if they begin to carry out an operation. According to some analysts Iran, Russia and Turkey have come to believe that the battle of Idlib is decisive in setting the stage for solving the Syrian crisis.

In fact, it can be argued that the Syrian crisis is approaching the final stage in Idlib. The U.S. Navy and Russian military array is a sign of the readiness of the two great powers for a regional or global military confrontation if a solution is not found, or if Trump wants to stand on the path to Idilb liberation.

Donald Trump has warned severely against any Syrian army operation and its allies in Idlib, which has raised the question as to why the U.S. president did not have such a strong reaction against the Syrian army and their battles in southern Syria and Ghouta’s Damascus.

The reason behind it is Israel and Saudi Arabia that have pushed Trump to take this stance, because they do not want Russia, Iran and Syria to win. They don’t want that Russia to realize its goals in Syria. It’s not unlikely that this issue was discussed during Bolton’s trip to Tel Aviv and has got an agreement during his meeting with Israeli officials

In any case, the Tehran summit is expected to lead to an agreement between the leaders of Iran, Russia and Turkey on the joint operation in northwest Syria. In other words, the fate of Idlib is tied to Tehran’s meeting, and the decisions that were made to counter Trump and Western’s threats.

First published in our partner Tehran Times