Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been working closely to end the fighting in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019

Turkey, Russia eye closer coordination on Syria

  • Regime ally Russia and Turkey, which supports rebels, have been on opposite sides in the Syrian war
  • “We are working on a joint coordination center,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said

ISTANBUL: Turkey and Russia are discussing a “coordination center” to better manage their operations in Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib province, Turkey’s defense minister said.
Regime ally Russia and Turkey, which supports rebels, have been on opposite sides in the Syrian war.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have been working closely to end the fighting. A Russian-Turkish deal for a demilitarised zone last year protected the Idlib rebel bastion.
The two countries and Ankara are already preparing joint patrols around the northwestern Syrian region.
“We are working on a joint coordination center,” Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said after a meeting Wednesdayg, according to a ministry statement on Thursday.
His remarks came as Russian jets carried out air strikes in Idlib on Wednesday, the first such attacks since the Turkish-Russian deal was signed in September as a way to prevent major bloodshed.
At least 13 civilians, including six infants were killed in the raids, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor that relies on sources inside Syria.
Earlier this month, Turkey said its forces and Russians would begin ground patrols around Idlib province as part of their cease-fire deal.
Idlib is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
HTS in January took control of the administration of Idlib’s region where three million people have been protected.
A Turkish-backed National Liberation Front controls part of the rebel stronghold.
The Russian-Turkish agreement was supposed to see hard-line jihadists withdraw from Idlib but they never did.
The cease-fire has held except for sporadic bombardments and skirmishes, avoiding an all-out Syrian military assault.


Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

Updated 09 December 2019

Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

  • Appeal of militant groups such as the Al Qaidam Daesh, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban are in decline, poll suggests
  • The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai

DUBAI: Militant groups in the Arab world face a gradual decline and most Arabs oppose the use of religion for political gain, a new survey suggests.

The appeal of extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban is likely to fade over the next 10 years, researchers found.

The survey indicates that most Arabs view corruption as the main problem in their home country and the leading cause of conflict in the Arab world.

 

Daesh (Islamic State) fighters march in Raqqa, Syria, at the height of their power in 2014. (AP file photo)

Researchers also found overwhelming approval for developments in female empowerment such as Saudi women driving and a new inheritance law in Tunisia, and most Arabs expect further progress in their own countries in the next 10 years.

The survey’s findings on political Islam were “good news” for the region, said political science professor Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. The Middle East had had enough of extremism and Arabs realized that political groups based on religion were “taking them nowhere,” Abdulla told Arab News.

“Indeed, we have seen the ugly face of it during the four to five years of Daesh’s control of large areas in Syria and Iraq. So it is natural to see there is a decline in the popularity of these parties. But much more important are the predictions that support for religious parties, whether moderate or extremist, is in sharp decline.

Opinion

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“People are becoming aware that there has been some kind of abuse and overuse of people’s emotions for political gains by these religious movements. The foremost is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is going through its worst moment.”

The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai. The 12th annual event will explore events and trends expected over the next 10 years, with 18 key speakers including former ministers, government officials, industry experts, international strategists, writers and media professionals. 

 

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