Sochi Agreement Syria Map

Even if the Sochi agreement confirms the existing border, Russia will eventually try to convince Turkey to abandon all or part of the Syrian territory it occupies, and the success is far from certain: Turkey wants to retain economic and political influence in this area and its allied militias (6) still want to end the Assad regime. The Syrian government is dissatisfied with the resettlement of refugees, who are likely hostile and could provide new recruits to rebel groups, but their reluctance is mitigated by the fact that refugees speak Arabic and their settlement in the autonomous zone, which is not their home of origin, would help to water down the Kurdish presence there. Turkey would contribute to a demographic change in the region, which would oppose the Kurds and their dreams of autonomy. But Erdogan knows he depends more than ever on President Vladimir Putin. As the Sochi agreement shows, Russia and Turkey have decided to cooperate in the autonomous zone. This is due to Russia`s main objective in the Syrian crisis, namely to strengthen the Assad regime by allowing the Syrian army to regain control of the area lost in 2011. The Sochi agreement also allows Turkey to return one million Syrian refugees out of the 3.6 million refugees currently living in Turkey in the Tell Abyad/Ras al-Ayn rectangle. Relations with the local Turkish population are strained and have been aggravated by the government`s allegations about the high cost to Turkey, which has taken in so many refugees during the eight years of the Syrian civil war. Their return would help the government at a time of internal political tensions and serious economic problems. Although the opposition sided with Erdogan in a nationalist wave – with the exception of the leftist pro-Kurdish HDP (People`s Democratic Party) which criticized the military intervention – this unity cannot exist and Erdogan will have to restore his prestige after his AKP (Justice and Development Party) lost control of some major cities, including Istanbul and Ankara, in the spring municipal elections. “With the Sochi agreement, Russia says it will participate in the activation of the Adana agreement, so this is another guarantee that will be given to Ankara with regard to its legitimate security concerns,” Orhan said.

On August 7, the United States and Turkey agreed on the creation of a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria. This agreement should have warned the Kurdish authorities, albeit in a very vague way. But the Kurds were confident that the treaty would have no effect and were not worried, as they did in December 2018, when Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, in line with his election promise to pull the United States out of “endless wars.” After the more than five-hour meeting in Sochi, the Turkish and Russian presidents announced a wide-scale agreement including the withdrawal of members of the Syrian-Kurdish People`s Protection Units (YPG) and their weapons 30 km from the Turkish border within 150 hours. After months of tension and threats, the first agreement was reached in mid-August 2019 to create the northern buffer zone of Syria between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the United States, on the one hand, and Turkey on the other. The agreement aimed to limit the Turkish offensive on northern Syria through a process of gradual withdrawal of the SDF, withdrawal of fortifications and surveillance and joint US-Turkish patrols, while the area could remain under civilian control of the autonomous administration of northern and eastern Syria and military control of the military councils of the Syrian Democratic Forces, in accordance with the first buffer zone agreement.

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