With references to a possible renegotiation of the terms of an agreement between Turkey and Syria becoming widespread, experts say it may pave the way for reopening diplomatic channels between the two neighbors.
The 1998 Adana deal allows the Turkish military to enter 15 km into Syria to combat “terrorist activities,” and was used by Ankara to justify its latest operation. But the “safe zone” proposed by Turkey extends a further 15 km into Syrian territory. Egypt and Iran are guarantors of the Adana deal, under which Damascus ended its support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif recently said: “The Adana agreement between Turkey and Syria — still valid — can be the better path to achieve security. Iran can help bring together the Syrian Kurds, the Syrian government and Turkey so that the Syrian Army, together with Turkey, can guard the border.”
Hasan Unal, a professor at Istanbul Maltepe University, said any renegotiation of the Adana deal would require talks between Ankara and Damascus.
“Should these negotiations lead to normalization (of relations) between Turkey and Syria, it would be a major step forward in terms of putting an end to the war in Syria and stabilizing the region,” he said.
Unal said the Adana deal bound the Syrian government to fight the PKK on its soil, and to cooperate with Turkey on all related issues, including exchanging intelligence.
The deal “created such a positive atmosphere that for more than a decade the two countries moved closer,” he added.
Unal said the deal needs to be renegotiated to give Ankara greater advantages in its struggle against the PKK and the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), while legalizing the Turkish troop presence in Syria.
Dr. Kerim Has, a Moscow-based analyst on Russian-Turkish relations, said: “Full implementation of the agreement requires direct and open dialogue between Ankara and Damascus.”
This, he said, “would reduce tensions and hostilities in the region, prevent a new conflict between the Turkish and Syrian armies, and strengthen the legitimacy of the Assad regime.”
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