The leaders of Iran, Turkey and Russia met this week in Ankara to discuss potential political solutions to the Syrian civil war, while solidifying their positions as decision-makers, working to settle their own differences and agreeing to counter external "challengers" in the Syrian peace process: the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The presidents — Russia's Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani — don't seek to encroach on the legitimacy of the Geneva peace talks. Yet given the developments of recent months in and around Syria, the leaders have come to believe the real shots regarding Syria are being called in the meetings among themselves. And while Geneva is stalled, if not comatose, conditions on the ground are fast-changing. These three stakeholders in the Syria conflict feel they’d be better positioned to drive change themselves rather than waiting until it starts.