Originally appeared at DWN, translated by John T. Sumner exclusively for SouthFront
Government representatives from Syria and Turkey have apparently met in Algeria. The secret meetings could lead to an end of the influx of refugees from Syria soon: Due to the many refugees Turkey fears chaos in its own country. If this is indeed the case, this would also be a success for Angela Merkel.
According to the Algerian online publication “El-Watan”, the representatives of the Turkish and Syrian governments conducted a secret meeting in Algiers in order to talk about the situation in the Turkish-Syrian border region. Previously Kurdish militias had proclaimed autonomy there.
The refugee influx from Syria, that does not stop, causes Turkey considerable problems and has already triggered the first protests in Turkey. Allegedly both governments had agreed on easing mutual relations. After the downing of the Russian jet by Turkish Airforce Algeria allegedly had acted as a mediator as well in order to moderate secret talks between Moscow and Ankara.
The fact that Turkey can´t send the refugees on to Europe any more, could lead to a change of thinking in Ankara. The Erdogan government had previously staked out its own territorial claims in Syria and stood in the way of sustainable peace.
Should Turkey indeed have altered its stance, this would also be a success for Angela Merkel: She had enforced that the refugees be sent back to Turkey. Human rights organizations had stridently criticized the EU deal, the UN had even demanded to stop the deportations. The talks in Algeria suggest that the Turkish government apparently fears the chaos on its own soil and therefore is willing to concede by itself.
According to a report on state television Syria is ready for peace talks without preconditions. This was stated by the government in talks with the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura in Damascus, the station reported on Monday. The talks will be continued on April 15 in Geneva. The previous round of negotiations had ended on March 24 without much progress.
By his own account De Mistura had demanded a consolidation of the cease-fire in his talks with Foreign Minister Walid al-Mualem, which indeed would be observed, but would turn out as brittle altogether. According to a report by the official news agency Sana Al-Mualem accused the terror-militias to systematically violate the cease-fire on behalf of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in order to undermine all efforts for peace negotiations.
The UN envoy also called on the Syrian government to allow more humanitarian aid in the war zones. Above the town of Deir-al-Zor, encircled by the extremist militia Islamic State (IS), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) dropped food on parachutes. So for the first time since the start of the IS-blockade in March 2014 food aid had reached the people trapped there, imparted the UN agency on Monday in Geneva. According to the WFP a great famine is raging in Deir al-Zor. The people were trying to feed on grass and wild plants.