Why did Turkey, Iran and Russia meet in Ankara? Look towards the Moscow International Security Conference

by The Region   Reuters  


In the seventh annual Moscow International Security Conference, Russian, Iranian and Syrian military leaders condemned the United States and claimed that Washington was trying to create a quasi-state in Syria, according to Newsweek. On Wednesday, similar sentiments were expressed by Russia and Iran in Ankara. This could be indicative of a shared interest by Iran, Turkey and Russia to quash the power of Syria's Kurds that has been amassed, with the help of a US coalition, amid their campaign to rid Syria from the Islamic State. 

"The United States is set to divide Syria. It has been laying the potential groundwork for a new all-against-all war," Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi, told Tass Russian News Agency, "Utterly unacceptable are the United States' attempts at creating a quasi-state on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. We see that in these areas where not only U.S.- controlled bodies of power are being created, but their own armed forces being formed as well," he added.

Iran has gone even further in its condemnation and claimed that the United States was attempting to divide the Islamic world. 

"The development and prosperity of Muslim countries is a source of concern for some players, particularly the United States. They are well aware of the fact that, if there is unity and cohesion in the Islamic world, the overall security regime will become a powerful system from the point of view of geopolitics", Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said. 

Statements made at the Moscow International Security Conference may provide insight into Iran-Turkey-Russian relations, especially amid a meeting in Wednesday which hosted Russia's Wladimir Putin, Iran's Hassan Rouhani, and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

Sitting next to Turkey's president Erdogan, whom only weeks prior invaded the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northwestern Syria, Hassan Rouhani argued that all countries intervening in Syria without the permission of the Assad government should pull out: 

"Some countries, including America, support terrorist groups like Islamic State in Syria, which serve these countries' interests... Iran believes the Syrian crisis has no military solution and safeguarding the independence of Syria is a priority for Tehran," he said. 

Iran has also publicly called on Turkey to hand Afrin to the Syrian government although it continues to work closely with Ankara on an alleged joint peace-process plan. 

Russia and Iran both claim that the US is trying to carve out spheres of permanent influence in Syria through its relationship with the Kurdish-led, and Arab majority Syrian Democratic Forces. Turkey, which had been warning for months that it would invade Afrin, found the opportunity to do so after the United States announced in February its intentions to build a border force which would include Kurdish fighters. Moscow, which controlled Afrin's airspace in a joint agreement with the Kurdish YPG, provided Turkey with the green light to do so.   

And while Russia made statements in a similar light to Iran, the statements made by General Sergei Rudskoi in Moscow seem to imply that Russia seeks to tolerate incursions by Turkey into Syria insofar as they can counterbalance what it perceives as US influence. It is for this reason that Turkey is being courted by Putin with lucrative arms deals, including S-400 fighter jets (As a NATO member, Turkey is unofficially obliged to buy arms and military equipment from other NATO countries instead).   

President Erdogan also announced that Turkey and Russia would work together to build a hospital in Syria's Tel Abyad for displaced residents of eastern Ghouta.