Syria Summit Kicks Off In Russia With Some Anti-Saudi Trolling

While in Sochi, Russia for trilateral talks between Russia, Iran, and Turkey over the future of Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has taken to Twitter for some serious trolling. As the first day of the summit concluded - a day preceded by a rare 4-hour visit to Russia by Syrian President Bashar Assad who met with Putin on Monday - Zarif stated, "No need for empty words or gimmicks - including glowing orbs - when you're actually working for peace and against terror."

The Iranian FM was of course referring to the unforgettable photo op which lit up the internet from Trump's inaugural visit to Saudi Arabia last May wherein Trump along with Saudi King Salman and Egypt's Sisi laid their hands on a strange glowing orb upon the opening of something called the "Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology" (no one knows what the center has accomplished since then).

In the lead up to the summit, Zarif explained that the Iranian delegation headed by President Rouhani would be "working with Turkish & Russian counterparts to build on ceasefire we achieved in Syria & preparing for inclusive dialog among Syrians. Irony is KSA accuses Iran of destabilization, while itself fuels terrorists, wages war on Yemen, blockades Qatar & foments crisis in Lebanon."

And the other irony is that along with the continuing war of words between the Iranians and Saudis, parallel summits are happening at the same time over Syria. On Wednesday a Syrian opposition conference kicked off in Riyadh which aims to unite fragmented opposition groups ahead of next week's UN-backed Syria talks in Geneva next week.

But statements from Sochi appeared more triumphant, with a many analysts and media pundits interpreting the ongoing summit between presidents Putin, Erdogan, and Rouhani, as a victory lap of sorts which will involve discussion of the fate of post-war Syria, driven by the victorious Russians and Iranians with reluctant Erdogan in tow, perhaps clawing for the geopolitical scraps.

And the Russian embassy in the UK decided to take the opportunity to rub it in, with the following tweet:

Putin's own words during his brief surprise meeting with Assad on Monday, however, were more restrained: "We still have a long way to go before we achieve a complete victory over terrorists," he said. "But as far as our joint work in fighting terrorism on the territory of Syria is concerned, this military operation is indeed wrapping up."

Assad responded in comments to Russian state television after the meeting: "At this stage, especially after we achieved victory over terrorists, it is in our interests to move forward with the political process." And during Tuesday's hour plus phone call between Trump and Putin, the Russian president reportedly assured Trump that the “Syrian leader confirmed adherence to the political process, to run a constitutional reform” and presidential and parliamentary elections.

On Wednesday, upon the opening of the trilateral Sochi summit, Putin confidently announced that, "Russia, Iran and Turkey have prevented a break-up of Syria, kept it from being overrun by international terrorists and warded off a humanitarian catastrophe." And contrary to some speculation that Russia may eventually accept the breakup of Syria into different spheres of influence, Putin expressed hope that decisions reached at the summit would help "strengthen the territorial integrity of Syria."

He further reiterated commitment to constitutional reform in Syria and compromise among world powers currently operating there: “The Syrian people will have to determine their own future and agree on the principles of their own statehood. It is obvious that the process of reform will not be easy and will require compromises and concessions from all participants, including of course the government of Syria” Putin said Wednesday.

The controversial topic of reconstruction in Syria will also be under consideration at the summit, as Putin urged Turkey and Iran to join in the efforts. “Given the colossal scale of the destruction it would be possible to think together about the development of a comprehensive program for Syria,” he said.

In the past half-year Turkey has come under the Russian orbit in Syria after Erdogan's early aggressive pursuit of regime change backfired which left him fighting for his political future and increasingly at odds with the United States and NATO. Turkey's very presence at the summit is hugely significant, while at the same time both the US and EU have been sidelined.

The summit further aims to lay the groundwork for a Syrian national dialogue congress due to be hosted by Russia in December. It is possible that an entirely new constitution, including terms of future presidential elections (likely to include Assad running), will be framed during that future meeting involving members of the political opposition.

But it's concerning the terms of this December Russian-sponsored meeting that Erdogan will seek to assert himself at Sochi: he is insisting that Syrian Kurds be excluded from the negotiating table on the grounds that they have links to the PKK and other Kurdish movements that Turkey labels as terrorists. However, it is unlikely that a lasting political settlement for Syria can be negotiated and successfully held without Syrian Kurdish input.

So it looks like things are moving forward concerning political settlement and future stability for Syria, entirely without direct US or European involvement or input.


veritas semper… Rubicon Wed, 11/22/2017 - 19:32 Permalink

Mr. Assad is the ONLY president who received such a welcoming from the Russians: ALL top military dogs were present.Spot on Mr. Zarif,I knew he was a smart man.Mr. Putin smiles like a cat after he ate sour cream ,Erdogan's smile is a little constipated,he's on a short leash from the Russians,LOL!I like when they say terrorists,not ISIS,and we know exactly whom they refer to. US has established a mini non fly zone over the Kurdish area not allowing SAA to fly in their OWN country(and Russians). They are officially an occupation force.After ISIS and the rest of the proxies are dealt with,US will be asked to  leave. Nicely first.Then ,if they persist in being stupid,expect to be thrown out,as they will not have any "justification "for being there.Some recent "achievements"of the US army there: multiple heliborne operations to save ISIS leaders in Deir Ezzor                                                                       Transported heavy excavation equipment used to dig out ancient artifacts in the Kurdish area,which were then transported by helicopters(in a word STEALING Syria's artifacts)Disgusting(and these are done by the army,so much for the US and the Donald's fight for peace,blah,blah...)

In reply to by Rubicon

HowdyDoody Truther Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:27 Permalink

One comment from the Russian Embassy tweet.

Charles Crawford? @CharlesCrawford
7h7 hours ago
Replying to @RussianEmbassy @thetimes and

Only Russians in their current mode could call any victory for the absurd dictator who’s wrecked his own country ‘being on the right side of history’

Apparently this guy is an ex UK diplomat. If he is representative of the intellectual capabilities of current UK diplomats, no wonder the UK is heading rapidly down the sewer.

In reply to by Truther

JohninMK HowdyDoody Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:45 Permalink

Sadly, as a Brit, I have to agree with you.Our Foreign Office has a sad few decades, what with the loss of Empire, being a late comer to the Franco German EU so little influence there, whilst hanging onto the US skirt tails has just led us into a string of US diplomatic failures.They used to get the brightest and best but they go into the City now. With Brexit they are facing a career opportunity of a generation, whether they are up to it remains to be seen.

In reply to by HowdyDoody

Neochrome HowdyDoody Wed, 11/22/2017 - 20:00 Permalink

"wrecked his own country"Syria was just fine until US set's it's sights on a regime change by ISIS proxy which is well documented. One can argue that in order to achieve it's goal in Syria, US also wrecked Ukraine just in order to create diversionary second front for Russia. Their failure on both fronts makes Russia's victories even more glaring.

In reply to by HowdyDoody

Freddie HowdyDoody Wed, 11/22/2017 - 21:12 Permalink

Someone on another web site mentioned Russia did a lot of heavy lifting in Syria as did the Syrian military.  Hezbollah and Iran also did a lot of work and fighting.  It seems like when someone in ISIS/Daesh/Al Qeada-CIA needed a real ass kicking - they brought in Hezbollah.This writer also said Iran did not mind Russia taking much of the credit because Iran wanted to be more in the background.  I think this was a pretty accurate analysis.

In reply to by HowdyDoody

zxbkajbs91bckz… Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:24 Permalink

The proliferation of different languages is good because it compartmentalizes information and limits the spread of harmful viral ideas. The banana monoculture is susceptible to a single disease. But who cares; let's just have a massive, orgiastic Saturnalia.

whatsupdoc Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:29 Permalink

Lets hope the new overland rail and ports are setup in Syria ASAP.  Get Syria up and running ASAP.Kick the US out of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and other gulf states.  They are sooooo yesterday.A two state solution for Palestine with contiguous land from Gaza to the West Bank down to the Gulf d Aqaba would be good too. 

geno-econ Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:50 Permalink

The agreement in Sochi, if successfully  implemented, will help Europe in that it will decrease unwanted migration and save lives from drowning while crossing the Med.   However, the strategic stakes in that part of the world means unrest will continue unless there is an agreement with all stakeholders.

Blankone Wed, 11/22/2017 - 18:52 Permalink

"Russia, Iran, and Turkey over the future of Syria"

Syria has been sold out and is being used for other purposes.
How about we have the US, Ukraine and Germany meet to decide the future of Russia.

Putin just wants to negotiate for Russia to keep a large part of the west coast of Syria for Russia. Remember, RT recently did an article about the US now having around 11 bases IN Syria. The SDF who took Raqqa is mostly the Kurds and lead by the Kurds - and is the new proxy of the US. The SDF is anti Assad and want to take most of the NE section of Syria for themselves. It is also politically acceptable for the US to openly supply and protect the SDF, including waging war directly on Syria forces if they threaten the SDF.