Talks stepped-up by sides over situation in Syria
London-based Arab news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat said on Sunday that sides including the Syrian government, US officials, Turkish officials and Kurdish officials of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) are recently engaged in both open and secret talks over the situation in Syria.
Brett McGurk, the US National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, met with Hakan Fidan, the head of the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT), in a secret meeting hosted by a Gulf State, Asharq Al-Awsat said, and that before the meeting US State Department Special Envoy to Syria Nicholas Granger made a series of secret visits to Ankara and Qamishli to meet with Turkish and Kurdish officials, with talks focusing on the withdrawal of the Kurdish police force 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border line.
A Kurdish delegation recently visited Damascus, the newspaper added, for a meeting aimed at the implementation of an understanding that had been signed between the two parties in the wake of the American troop withdrawal approved by former US President Donald Trump in late 2019.
"The Kurds are now eager to cooperate with Damascus if it means preventing a new Turkish offensive against them, while Damascus is more than ready to deal with them in their position of weakness," Asharq Al-Awsat said, adding that the Syrian government now "wants to feel out where the Kurds stand, as an ally of the US," while the Kurds "want to know the limits of the normalization between Damascus and Ankara."
Amid such developments, Iran has expressed its "annoyance with the Russian mediation between Damascus and Ankara" for a number of reasons, the newspaper noted:
First, because the mediation "took place behind its back," second, Tehran believes that "any progress in Syrian-Turkish ties may take place at the expense of Iran's role in Syria," and third, the United Arab Emirates has suggested that it may host or take part in the Syrian-Turkish-Russian meetings.
These issues were discussed during Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian's recent visit to Damascus and some breakthroughs have been reached, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.