Executive Intelligence Review


Meeting of Astana Process for Peace in Syria Is Underway in Sochi, Russia

July 30, 2018 (EIRNS)—The three Astana process guarantor powers for ceasefire in Syria—Russia, Turkey and Iran—met today in Sochi, Russia for the first of two days of meetings to discuss issues regarding the formation of the Syrian constitutional committee, the situation in de-escalation zones, as well as humanitarian items on the agenda, including strengthening trust measures and returning Syrian refugees home, reported TASS. The July 30-31 meeting is a continuation of the Astana de-escalation process and is the first such meeting held elsewhere than the city of its namesake, Astana, Kazakhstan.

The Russian Foreign Ministry statement said,

“The participants will exchange opinions on the process of facilitating inter-Syrian dialogue based on the Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council and the decisions of the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. They will continue the discussion of further steps in the interest of launching the constitutional committee as soon as possible, as a key element of promoting political regulation of the Syrian crisis.”

The topic generating the most tension at Sochi is undoubtedly Idlib, with Turkey opposing an expected Syrian Arab Army assault on the jihadi-held province.

“The Sochi meeting participants will discuss the situation around Idlib, where [Syrian army] military operation is expected to begin immediately after the end of the southern campaign. Turkey would like to prevent this operation, and it has already sent its counterproposals to Russia,”

Kirill Semyonov, an expert with the Russian International Affairs Council, explained to the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta. In Semyonov’s extreme view, the Idlib offensive will make the Astana process pointless.

At the conclusion of today’s meeting, Alexander Lavrentyev, Russian special envoy for Syria, said simply that the talks “are being held in a routine, working, constructive atmosphere.” He provided no further details.

In addition to the representatives of the three guarantor countries, also in attendance are UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and a Jordanian delegation as observers, as well as the delegations from the Syrian government and the opposition. The U.S., invited to attend as an observer, declined to send a delegation.