Images can be misleading. Anybody who sees the presidents of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Russian Black Sea resort town of Sochi might think this impressive trio could actually deliver a settlement to the bloody Syrian conflict that has been ongoing for six years.
Astana, Kazakhstan, is another venue being used by the same trio for peacemaking in Syria. Although the Russians were always keen to present Astana as a supplementary peace effort to the United Nations' Geneva talks, the meetings in the Kazakh capital had an axis of three important players: Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.
Russia and Iran were known to be supporters of the regime in Damascus since the beginning of Syrian conflict in 2011. After engaging in a zero-sum game against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for years, NATO member Turkey has now also become a member of this axis. As Washington cooperates with the Syrian Kurds, the friction between Ankara and Washington has escalated. For Ankara, the potential of the emergence of a Kurdish entity along its long border was assessed as the main security threat that could emanate from the Syrian conflict.
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