On August 1-2, a new meeting on Syria will be held in Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) as part of the Astana series of peace talks, and towards the end of August, Ankara will host a trilateral Russia-Iran-Turkey summit. These two forums, which are almost taking place back to back, clearly demonstrate the desire of the three parties not only to intensify contact, but also to achieve certain results.
By itself, the Astana peace process hardly heralds any new breakthrough solutions. In its existing form, it has already brought significant results, such as the establishment of four de-escalation zones, of which three are completely unbarricaded and have come under the control of the Syrian government. The situation in the fourth zone, Idlib, does not point to a quick, easy outcome. Here the positions of Russia, Syria and Iran the one hand, and that of Turkey, on the other, are significantly different, and nothing is said about the possibility of their convergence.
Some expansion of the Astana round of talks, with the inclusion of some Arab countries' representatives as observers also does not entail any serious or rapid progress. Nevertheless, the Astana talks should be continued, even absent any real expectations of fast, effective results, since the further development of the political process in Syria and in the Middle East as a whole will become relevant in the future.
What follows from this? We see a clearly visible Turkey’s attempt to bring trilateral relations with Russia and Iran beyond the Astana format, to bring them to a wider geopolitical level. This may be of interest not only for Turkey itself, but also for Iran and Russia. Obviously, the Syrian issue here will not be prevalent, the leaders will discuss the whole complex of tripartite political, financial and economic, and, possibly, military-technical relations. In any case, this will further promote trust in a trilateral format. The situation around Iran will undoubtedly be in the agenda, and there is identity or proximity of positions between all three countries. In the financial and economic sphere, curious nuances may well emerge, foreshadowing new development in a number of areas. The Russian peace initiative on the situation in the Persian Gulf may receive support and further development.
On the whole, the development of relations within the Russia-Iran-Turkey triangle will strengthen the positive dynamics in the region, which ultimately can have a positive effect in the Syrian direction.