Spotlight: Tripartite Sochi meeting on Syria brings no solid changes

Source: Xinhua| 2019-02-15 20:28:21|Editor: Xiaoxia
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DAMASCUS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- The latest round of the Sochi meeting on Syria among Russia, Turkey, and Iran concluded without solid changes, analysts say.

Ahead of the Thursday meeting, it was expected that the leaders of Turkey, Iran, and Russia would reach a concrete agreement on the formation of a long-awaited constitutional committee.

The committee would be charged with studying amendment to the current Syrian constitution.

However, during the past months, the Syrian government side has protested the shape of the formation as the UN wanted to name a third of the names in the committee.

The meeting in Sochi was also expected to find a solution to the recent development in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, where the al-Qaida-linked rebels of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) took control of the entire area instead of withdrawing in accordance with a previous agreement between Russia and Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the presence of terror groups in Idlib while the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urged for clearing Idlib of terrorism quickly.

It's worth noting that Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria and in accordance with previous deals among Iran, Turkey, and Russia, the ultra-radical rebels should withdraw from Idlib and the province is included in a demilitarized zone deal.

But that didn't happen and the HTS ended up controlling the entire Idlib area.

In their meeting Thursday, Putin said that the demilitarized zones' deal is temporary, noting that Idlib should be restored under the Syrian government control.

It was expected that the Russian side would push for a green light to launch an offensive on Idlib with the Syrian Army to fight the HTS and retake Idlib.

The three sides agreed to meet again in Turkey in April.

Mahmoud Muri, a Syrian political expert, told Xinhua that the result of the meeting was "modest."

He said that the final communique of the meeting didn't specify the agreement among the three sides.

He said that Iran and Russia stressed the need to clear Idlib of terrorist groups, but didn't say how.

On the constitutional committee, Muri said there was no agreement on the formation of it.

For his side, Hussam Shuaib, another analyst, said that the Russians seemed to have become fed up with the presence of the terror groups in Idlib.

He noted that the remarks of the Russian and Iranian side regarding Idlib indicate that they are running out of patience in terms of entering Idlib and defeating the HTS.

However, the analyst continued, the Turkish side, which is the backer of the rebels in northern Syria, is not yet on the same page regarding launching a Russian-backed operation in Idlib.

Shuaib noted that the Turkish side is still working and negotiating within the circle of the U.S. and that it's maneuvering in terms of the Syrian file and the situation in Idlib.

Sharif Shehadeh, a former parliamentarian, told Xinhua that the three sides stressed on the unity of Syria and any U.S. withdrawal from Syria should be replaced with the presence of the Syrian Army.

He noted that this declaration is important in terms of addressing the need for foreign powers to withdraw from Syria.