TEL AVIV – The rebels’ military gains in the battle of Aleppo increased Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s position ahead of the meeting he held on Tuesday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, an Arab intelligence official told Breitbart Jerusalem.
He said Turkey’s intelligence and military know-how were instrumental in the rebels’ success in breaking the siege the regime had imposed on Syria’s second-largest city, and in renewing contact with the rebel stronghold of Idlib, near the Turkish border, where the rebels receive men and supplies.
The information indicates that fresh from surviving a coup attempt, Erdogan continues to meddle in the Syrian civil war at full intensity.
The official said that it was clear to both Erdogan and Putin that the result of the battle of Aleppo would determine the course of the war.
“The results of the battle of Aleppo enabled the Turkish president to insist in Putin’s ears that Turkey must play a role in the resolution of the Syrian crisis, after a joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian effort failed to defeat its interests,” he said.
Erdogan and Putin met on Tuesday in St Petersburg to explore ways to resume economic ties. The Syrian question reportedly featured extensively in their discussions, while both statesmen insisted that they wouldn’t want to let their differences over that issue inflict on their economic partnership.
Sunni Arab countries followed the Turkish-Russian summit with great concern, the source added, fearing a Turkish détente with Russia may persuade Turkey to revise its positions on the resolution of the Syrian crisis and on President Bashar al Assad’s fate.
These elements were pleased with Turkey’s involvement in Aleppo, the official said, adding that the latest push was planned to coincide with Tuesday’s summit.
“The Turks hoped to come to this summit with a victory for the rebels – which is exactly what happened,” he said.
The Sunni Arab leaderships think that it’s unlikely Turkey would change its position on Assad, whom they see as an Iranian puppet, but they fear that Ankara may be persuaded by Moscow to agree to a longer period of transition of power, meaning Assad will be able to remain in his seat for longer.
The source added that Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have already started discussing the potential fallout of Tuesday’s Turkish-Russian summit.
Erdogan sees strategic importance in a renewed relationship with Russia, he said.
“It would send a message to the United States and the West, who have criticized his domestic policy since last month’s failed coup,” he said. “Erdogan tells Europe and NATO that he is able to create new alliances in the region.”