For days, both Syrian public opinion and the world have been discussing the question of “What is Turkey doing in Idlib, Syria?” If you are really curious about this question, you must have been born after 2015. Turkey has intervened in northern Syria for both humanitarian and security reasons due to a number of problems, such as nearly 4 million refugees coming to the country during the nine-year war, instability spreading from Syria and dozens of people killed in missile strikes on Turkish soil, which were launched from across the Syrian border.
The Idlib crisis reached another turning point after the signing of the Turkish-Russian agreement last week during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Moscow. Reports indicated that the challenging process of negotiations carried on for more than six hours. The end result of the negotiations generated a lot of debates regarding its provisions and the potential roadblocks in its implementation.
To solve the crisis in Idlib, the international community is hoping for the success of a four-nation summit and fresh diplomatic talks. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and France's President Emmanuel Macron, scheduled to take place on March 5, keeps alive the hope of ending what the U.N. called “the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century” diplomatically.
The recent escalation of violence between Turkey and the Assad regime in violation of the Sochi deal marks a significantly tense moment that may risk a deterioration of relations between Ankara and Moscow. Turkey has given an ultimatum to the Assad regime to withdraw its troops outside of the zone encircled by Turkey's military observation points until the end of February. So far, the Assad regime has resisted the idea of withdrawal and continued to expand further into the territory. However, Turkey expects its Russian counterparts to either convince or force the Assad regime to comply with the conditions laid out as part of the Sochi deal that was signed in September 2018.