Turkey’s diplomatic initiatives to overcome its long-felt isolation internationally and in the Middle East have begun to yield results. After reconciling with Israel and Russia and sending friendly messages to Cairo, Ankara appears to have extended its initiative to Damascus, taking its pulse for a possible reconciliation.
Ismail Hakki Pekin is the one name associated with back channel diplomacy for the Ankara-Damascus file. Pekin, a retired lieutenant general who served as head of intelligence for the chief of the General Staff, is currently deputy chairman of the Homeland Party, which is known to have maintained good relations with the Damascus regime from the outset of the Syrian crisis. Pekin said he assumed a mediation role after an indirect request from the Ankara government. He spoke with Al-Monitor on the feasibility of reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus and also on the recent developments between Ankara and Moscow.