Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Aleppo on 6 February 2011. (Photo credit: SANA)
The prospects of a Turkish-Syrian reconciliation also factored into Hamas’s recent decision to restore ties with Syria
Reuters reported on 15 September that the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, has paid several visits to Damascus in the past month to meet his Syrian counterpart Ali Mamlouk.
The Turkish spy chief and Syria’s special security adviser to President Bashar Al-Assad met to resume talks to end a decade-long bloody dispute.
Fidan and Mamlouk discussed the possibility of preparing the first public meeting between the foreign ministers in a step to lay the groundwork for public talks.
“Russia wants Syria and Turkey to overcome their problems and achieve certain agreements, which are in the interest of everyone,” Reuters quoted a Turkish official.
He added that neither Turkey nor Russia are interested in seeing Iran step in to fill the gap they may leave in Syria, in case an agreement is reached.
Ankara has also asked Damascus to compromise by giving a chance to the Turkish-backed militants in the Idlib governorate to join the talks.
Allegedly, Russia has asked Turkey to normalize relations with Damascus in a push to “accelerate a political solution” in Syria.
Earlier on 8 September, UK-based online newspaper Al-Araby reported that Fidan met with Mamlouk under Russian mediation.
Reportedly, the meeting was not fruitful, but was sufficient in laying the framework for further meetings between the two, while creating the space for “Damascus and Ankara to set out their demands.”
These meetings come as a result of Turkey’s decision to gradually exit the Syrian battlefield – but not before it gets its security guarantees regarding the Kurdish presence on its borders.
In August, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Turkey has no intentions of overthrowing Assad, citing possible cooperation.
“We do not have the dilemma of overthrowing or not overthrowing Assad. We hope for the adoption of a new constitution in Syria, which will stabilize the situation,” Erdogan was quoted by CNN Turk.
Furthermore, he accused the US coalition in Syria of harboring “Kurdish terrorists” and fostering terrorism by allowing Turkish-designated terrorist groups to operate freely on its borders.
“We say that right now our intelligence services are already dealing with these issues with the Syrian intelligence, but the whole point is to get results,” Erdogan announced during his one-day visit to Russia.
Similarly, on 27 July, Turkish state-media Anadolu Agency reported that Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced Turkey’s full readiness to support the Syrian government in confronting the People’s Defense Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In light of these developments, along with Turkey’s recent reconciliation with Israel, Hamas took the decision on 15 September to officially recognize the government in Damascus and call for deepening ties between the two.
In a statement, Hamas condemned Israel’s continued aggressions in Syria, and said it is looking forward to seeing Damascus regain its position in the Arab and Islamic world.
“We take sides with any nation in the face of the malicious Zionist plans aimed at dividing it and plundering its resources,” Hamas officials added.
This decision will bear fruit for the Axis of Resistance in Syria by enabling Hamas to build infrastructure and train beyond its existing borders in Gaza.