GOG AND MAGOG WATCH: Turkey and Syria Defense Ministers meet in Russia from End Time Headlines
Turkey’s defense minister and intelligence chief held talks with their Syrian counterparts in Moscow on Wednesday, the first formal, high-level meeting between the two Middle East governments since the eruption of a civil war in Syria in 2011.
The meeting, attended by senior Russian officials, came as Ankara is beginning to open a dialogue with Damascus after more than a decade of hostility. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the chief foreign supporter of an armed rebellion that sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad amid the uprisings of the Arab Spring.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said the officials discussed “the Syrian crisis, refugee issue and efforts for a joint struggle against all terrorist organizations on Syrian soil,” during the meeting in Moscow. The officials agreed on “the need for the continuation of joint dialogue” to achieve stability in Syria, according to Syria’s state-run news agency SANA.
Mr. Erdogan’s opening to the Syrian regime represents the reversal of one of the defining foreign-policy choices of his nearly 20 years in power. Under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey accepted millions of Syrian refugees and offered support to rebel groups whose leaders have for years moved freely between Turkey and areas of northern Syria under their control. The decision embroiled Turkey in years of war, bringing it to the brink of direct conflict with Russia after Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter in 2015.
The Turkish government has gradually shifted its policy on Syria in recent years after Mr. Assad gained the upper hand over the rebels due in part to military intervention by Russia, which launched a bombing campaign against the rebels in 2015.
The meeting also comes as Mr. Erdogan deepens his relationship with Moscow, seeking to straddle the divide between Russia and the West during the war in Ukraine. Under Mr. Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has expanded trade and energy ties with Russia while also selling weapons to Ukraine and facilitating negotiations on a range of issues between the two countries.