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Russia, Turkey, Iran Change Global Geopolitical Dynamics

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Presidents Ebrahim Raisi (C), Vladimir Putin (L) & Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Photo: Xinhua

At the end of the meeting held in Tehran on Tuesday, July 19, Presidents Vladimir Putin (Russia), Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey), and Ebrahim Raisi (Iran) made a joint statement calling for preserving Syria’s territorial integrity and strengthening the fight against terrorism. Their intensive diplomatic interactions were arranged against the backdrop of unfolding international and regional dynamics, and bear significance way beyond the three countries.

COORDINATION ON SYRIAN CRISIS

As guarantor countries of the Astana process, which was initiated in 2017 for peace in Syria, they differ in their positions on the Syrian conflict. Moscow and Tehran have been key allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Ankara has backed the Syrian rebels.

The Tehran Summit followed Turkey’s announcement of its intention to launch a new operation in the neighboring country against Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), raising alarm in Russia and Iran. “Turkey, Russia, and Iran already have differences on the Syrian issue, and these developments around Syria have further prompted them to communicate and coordinate,” said Wang Jin, a Middle East expert at Northwest University of China.

On July 19, Erdogan pledged to continue to fight “terrorist organizations,” and expected Russia and Iran to “side with Turkey in this fight,” a move widely seen as an effort to press his case for a military offensive against the YPG, which Turkey regards as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Yet, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned against any “military attack on Syria.” He told Erdogan that such an operation against Syria “would be harmful to Syria, harmful to Turkey, and harmful to the region, and it would be to the benefit of the terrorists.”

In their joint statement after their summit, the three presidents “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism,” and expressed their determination to “stand against separatist agendas aimed at undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria as well as threatening the national security of neighboring countries,” appearing to include concerns of different sides.

ENERGY COOPERATION, ANTI-TERROR FIGHT

In his meeting with Putin, Khamenei urged the two countries to “increase mutual cooperation on a daily basis,” notably in the oil and gas sectors. Ahead of Putin’s visit to Tehran, the National Iranian Oil Company and Russia’s gas giant Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding, under which the latter is expected to make an investment worth roughly US$40 billion in Iran’s petroleum industry.

Iran is an important energy producer and exporter in the Middle East, and Turkey is a gas and oil transit connecting the Middle East and Europe. Russia’s more interaction and consensus with the two countries could help it wrestle with the U.S.-led West in the geopolitics of energy.

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