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Putin Keeps Changing the Strategic Situation in Southwest Asia

Aug. 20, 2016 (EIRNS)—Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, on Aug. 17 stated that Turkey’s policy towards Syria is undergoing "a seismic shift." That description accurately reflects the process underway throughout the entire region, under the influence of the forceful leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkish media outlets are reporting that Moscow has taken diplomatic steps toward establishing a permanent solution to the ongoing Syrian civil war with a trilateral coordination group of Turkey, Russia and Iran. The Aug. 18 Daily Sabah noted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stressing the importance of Russian-Turkish-Iranian cooperation and reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov met with some Syrian opposition representatives on Aug. 16, "initiating efforts to establish the trilateral coordination group with Turkey and Iran to end the ongoing civil war."

Russia is expected to issue a three-step plan, now. "According to the plan, the first step would be to provide a safe return for refugees to Syria within two years, while establishing safe passage to the Jarablous-Azaz road that Turkey and Russia would jointly control. Furthermore, within the two years it is expected that the Damascus administration will be transformed into a strengthened federal governing system. The system mentioned in the media indicates that it aims to integrate all groups into the political system in Syria."

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stressed yesterday, as did the Daily Sabah article the day before, that Syria’s territorial integrity must be maintained.

"One of the most important conditions for going back to smooth sailing in Syria is preserving the territorial integrity of Syria. Syria depends on a governance figure that does not rest on ethnic structures,"

Yildirim said, adding that he believed a "noteworthy development on this path could be experienced in the forthcoming months."

Russia’s initiatives are both diplomatic and military. The Russian Defense Ministry announced yesterday that the corvettes Zeliony Dol and Serpukhov launched three cruise missiles at Jabhat al Nusra from the Mediterranean Sea, destroying a command center and a terrorist base near the Dar-Taaza inhabited area as well as a plant manufacturing mortar munitions, and a large depot with armament were destroyed in the Aleppo province. Meanwhile, Iran’s Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan said that Russia can use the Iranian Shahid Nojeh air base in Hamedan for strikes against ISIS "For as long as they need." According to Dehghan, Iran’s decision to allow the Russian Aerospace Forces to use that airbase is a part of cooperation in fighting the Islamic State terrorist group at the request from the Syrian government.

"It is a military decision made in the framework of cooperation in fighting IS and other terrorists, which is organized at request from the Syrian government,"

he said.

This Russian display of military power is making some people nervous. "Taken together, the new military moves appeared to be a demonstration that Russia has the ability to strike from virtually all directions in a region where it has been reasserting its power ... from Iran, from warships in the Caspian Sea, from its base in the Syrian coastal province of Latakia and now from the Mediterranean,"

reports the New York Times.

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