This is going to be the 11th round of Syrian peace talks taking place in the Kazakh capital, Astana this week. The meetings taking place between Turkey, Russia and Iran, including the Bashar al-Assad regime and the Syrian opposition, will give an opportunity for the guarantor countries to exchange view and feelings on the conflict.
The idea behind the Syrian peace talks is to establish a constitutional committee that can rewrite Syria’s constitution. The release of prisoners is at the top of the programme. Observers to the meeting will be the United Nations and Jordan. The meeting will be closed to the press, but when the final declaration is read out and announced, the media will be present.
Who exactly will be attending the meetings?
Deputy Foreign Minister Sedal Onal will be representing Turkey. Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, Hussein Gabri Ansari will represent Iran. Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian President’s Special Envoy for Syria will be present. Ahmed Tuma, the former Premier of the Syrian Interim Government will also take part in the Syrian peace talks. The regime will be represented by Bashar Jaafari, the regime’s Permanent Representative to the UN.
Interestingly, the US has declined to send any officials to the last two meetings.
Astana has held a total of 10 meetings, this being the 11th. The first meeting was in January 2017, pushing for a cease-fire agreement in Syria. Nine further meetings were held in Astana, with the 10th in Sochi. In Sochi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, agreed to set up a demilitarized zone in Idleb. The agreement is that no acts of aggression will be tolerated in this zone.
As part of the deal, opposition groups in Idleb will stay in areas where they are already present, while joint patrols will be carried out by Russia and Turkey to prevent any further skirmishes.
The long war in Syria has caused high number of casualties and damages. A solution must be found soon and these peace talks, round 11, must reach a conclusion.