Public opinion in Syria “welcomes” attempts of part of international diplomacy “to reach a lasting solution to the conflict” trying to ease the tension, and not “fomenting new violence”. This is what Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo deiLatini, Msgr. Georges AbouKhazen, says commenting on the forthcpming the September 7 meeting – the third since November last year – between the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey. The city of Tabriz, in the north of Iran, will host the summit.
Our wish, emphasizes the prelate, is that these attempts “can not only remove threats”, but help to reach “a general peace agreement”. What is certain is that in Syria, he warns, the widespread feeling is that an end to the conflict can be achieved thanks to the diplomatic and military effort of the regional forces (and Russia), not by the United States, Britain and France who seem to continue to pursue projects of destabilization.
After Russia (Sochi) and Turkey (Ankara), Iran will host the new summit between Vladimir Putin, RecepTayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani in early September to. For years the three countries, starting from opposite sides in the Middle Eastern chessboard, are among the most active in the search for a solution to a conflict that entered the eighth year and which has already caused half a million deaths and triggered the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second world War.
Analysts and experts agree that Russia, Turkey and Iran are now the real actors of the Syrian conflict: Moscow, in fact, would have substantial control of the skies in Syria, while Iran has a presence rooted on the ground, thanks to its own militias and through foreign fighters. At the same time Erdogan – close to the anti-Assad front and promoter of a campaign against the Kurds – has increased his influence, conquering portions of territory across the border.
At the center of the talks was the situation in Idlib, in the north of Syria, the last rebel and jihadist stronghold in the country. Assad is ready to launch a military campaign to regain control of the province. The fear is that the siege could trigger a further humanitarian “catastrophe”. Meanwhile, the government front denounces operations to simulate a chemical weapons attack, as a pretext for an anti-Assad intervention of the US-led international coalition.
“There is a climate of fear in Idlib “, underlines the vicar of Aleppo, and “we do not know how it will end. On the ground there are not only Syrian-born fighters, he adds, “but also foreign groups and those who do not want policies of reconciliation or peace agreements”.
“We, on the other hand, pray for peace – the prelate goes on – and we do our best to make sure that the situation can be regularized. The government has confidence in the meetings between Russia, Iran and Turkey, and if these three realities agree, the hope is that it can be translated into practice on the battlefield. ” We hope, he warns, that “no one will interfere [the reference is to the Western bloc], triggering everything”.
The common hope, concludes Msgr. Georges, “is that there is an agreement on Idlib and for the whole country. In this sense, the role played by Turkey and its force of persuasion on rebel groups close to it will be fundamental “. On the other hand “we do not know what to do with the threats of the United States, France and Great Britain, because they risk only to turn into new violence and this is frightening”.