Skip to main content

Turkish army chief in Sochi as 'mission impossible' kicks off

In preparation for the summit for a political settlement to Syria’s civil war, Turkey, Iran and Russian officials met today — while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was seen embracing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Turkey's Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar greets audience during the Democracy and Martyrs Rally, organized by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and supported by ruling AK Party (AKP), oppositions Republican People's Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), to protest against last month's failed military coup attempt, in Istanbul, Turkey, August 7, 2016.  REUTERS/Osman Orsal - LR1EC871BPP4E

Turkey’s Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar met with his Iranian and Russian counterparts in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi Nov. 21 to lay the groundwork for a critical summit to be held Nov. 22 between leaders of all three nations, where they will thrash out what many observers label “mission impossible” — a political settlement to Syria’s six-year-long civil conflict. The summit will coincide with a separate gathering in Riyadh of tens of groups opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is meant to achieve a similarly gargantuan task — to agree on a common position before United Nations peace talks resume in Geneva on Nov. 28.

The dizzying diplomacy took a further unexpected turn when Assad arrived in Sochi Nov. 21 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photos of the two men embracing sent a strong signal to other stakeholders ahead of the talks that Assad is not going away anytime soon and certainly not under Russian pressure.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.