An unlikely alliance has been created post the ceasefire in Syria and at the end of Aleppo crisis. The relationship between Syria, Russia and Turkey is important not only for the Middle East but also for the world.
Rise of the three strongmen
It is a coincidence that leaders of these three countries- Syria, Russia and Tirkey-Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was prominently featured at the same time. At first, their rise was accompanied by an upside in the optimism levels. The period between 2000 to 2016, however, saw these leaders slowly become authoritarian and populist. Among the three leaders, only Assad succeeded in ruling the country after his father’s death. It so happened that his older brother died in an accident as well. Although his western education gave him an air of a liberal and friendly person, he was soon found to be a person best suited to administer a police state. He soon established personal relations with Erdogan. The latter even referred to the Syrian leader as “my brother”.
Erdogan, in 2010, created a Turkey that was praised by all. It was a nation where Islam and democracy co-existed. He soon started to exhibit ambitions for the leadership of the Muslim world. The Turkish leader soon made a European Union like policy with other Islamic countries. Visa restrictions were relaxed and partnerships signed with Lebanon and Syria.
Russia and Arab Spring
Putin, the Russian strongman, also went for deeper relations with Syria from 2004 to 2011. It was during the important time when Iraq was invaded by the United States and the international coalition. Iraq in 2011 was a destabilized nation and also polarized the Sunni and Shi’ite sectarian lines. Putin increased Russian influence inside Syrian by investing in the Tartus naval base. He also cemented ties with the Syrian leader.
The 2011 Arab Spring changed a lot for the alliance. Putin’s strategy was suddenly made clear: he began to support the Assad regime. He was also trying to challenge the dominance of the western powers in the Middle East and also all over the world. Moscow was also trying to control internal strife in Cyrillic territories like Georgia. Erdogan tried to harbor the Arab Spring to assert his domination of Sunni Muslims. Assad quickly became his enemy due to the largely secular nature of the latter’s government. The Turkish leader supported many Syrian opposition groups.