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Vague Articles in Russian-Turkish Agreement | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu answers a question during an interview with Reuters in Ankara, Turkey, August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Ankara, Beirut- Russia and the Syrian opposition were surprised on Wednesday by Turkish comments about an agreement, whose articles remain ambiguous between Ankara and Moscow concerning a nationwide truce in Syria. While Turkish Foreign Minister announced that an agreement was reached concerning the truce, Moscow kept silent on Wednesday and expressed reservations due to the “lack of enough information,” according to the Kremlin spokesperson.

Turkey’s Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “There are two texts ready on a solution in Syria. One is about a political resolution and the other is about a ceasefire. They can be implemented any time.”

Meanwhile, sources close to the matter told Reuters that, under an outline deal between the three countries, Syria could be divided into informal zones of regional power and Assad would remain president for at least a few years.

Such a deal, which would allow regional autonomy within a federal structure controlled by Assad’s Alawite sect, is in its infancy, subject to change and would need the buy-in of Assad and the rebels and, eventually, the Gulf states and the United States, sources familiar with Russia’s thinking say.

Foreign and defense ministers from Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Moscow on Dec. 20 and issued a document that parties called the “Moscow Declaration,” in which representatives of the three countries vowed to expand the ceasefire to the entire Syrian territories and to reach a deal between the regime and the opposition.

“There has been a move toward a compromise,” Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a think tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry told Reuters.

“A final deal will be hard, but stances have shifted.”

Assad’s powers would be cut under a deal between the three nations, say several sources. Russia and Turkey would allow him to stay until the next presidential election when he would quit in favor of a less polarizing Alawite candidate.

Iran has yet to be persuaded of that, say the sources. But either way Assad would eventually go, in a face-saving way, with guarantees for him and his family.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdish groups controlling large areas northern Syria have started meeting in the Rumaylan area to approve a blueprint for a system of federal government in northern Syria this week, ahead of the Astana talks expected between the opposition and the regime, under a regional and international patronage.