What does Turkey try to achieve in Syria?
Yesterday, Russian and Turkish Defense Ministers Sergei Shoigu and Hulusi Akar discussed situation in Syria by phone and agreed to continue working together to ensure stability in Syrian cities of Idlib and Tell Rifaat after Moscow and Ankara managed to prevent humanitarian disaster in this Syrian region. Meanwhile, Turkish leadership continues to succeed in peaceful settlement of situation in Idlib. In many ways, success of Turkish diplomacy can be explaned by agreements that were reached during the Astana meeting of heads of Russia, Turkey and Iran.
Press service of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan noted that thanks to agreement on Idlib, Russia and Turkey managed to prevent deaths of more that half million people. However, there are still some difficulties concerning creation of a 20-kilometer demilitarized zone, which will allow to pay more attention to security issues at the Syrian-Turkish border. Now Ankara will try to achieve more diplomatic success by participating in the process of creation of new Syrian constitution.
Situation in Idlib is directly affects role of external players in restoration of Syria, in which Turkey, a country with dynamic construction sector, is showing huge interest. Before the war, Idlib province had predominantly rural population, plateau accounted for most of its territory, which was close to fertile Al-Ghab Plain. Obviously, restoration of industrial potential of Syria will be a priority, including infrastructure affected by the war. This will likely lead to urbanization of post-war Syria, which in which construction businesses of Turkey are interested. Distance from Idlib to Turkish border is just 25 km, which significantly reduces costs of materials' delivery. In addition, most important highways pass through the territory of this province, restoration of which will open access to the Mediterranean coast of Syria.
Stabilization of situation in Idlib can open way for Turkish investments in province's economy. Investments will further rise after free movement of residents and transportation of Syria goods after restoration of transit traffic along the Aleppo-Latakia and Aleppo-Hama highways will be ensured. Reconstruction of roads should be completed by the end of 2018.
It's high likely that Turkish business can compete for contracts in the field of railway communications. Syrian railways were built with direct participation of the USSR, and Syrian side will be interested in their modernization.
Turkish economists can also contribute to agricultural restoration of Syria. Companies that will begin to cooperate with Syrian partners now, in a period that is extremely important for revival of the country, will have key positions in the future of Syrian economy.
Ankara’s involvement in stabilizing situation in Idlib allows Turkish leadership to hope that trade and economic ties between Syria and Turkey at the northern border provinces will be maintained. Turkey is already investing in infrastructure development in northern Aleppo.
Economically, Ankara is unable to satisfy all needs of post-war Syria. That's why focusing on border provinces with intention to create free trade zone capable of attracting investments from China in the future is extremely important.
Ankara will also benefit from speedy settlement of the Syrian conflict in terms of anti-terrorist operation against Kurdish armed formations, which require substantial financial costs. Ankara is worried about unpredictability of the future of Syria, since country may be torn apart and armed groups may occupy large areas, which may in turn pose potential threat to Turkey’s national security. New military operation may take too much time, that's why Ankara will do everything possible to speed up peace settlement and restoration of Syria. That's why it's necessary to prevent situation in Idlib from escalating and create a buffer zone along the entire Syrian border.