The Astana Peace Process: Achievements, Challenges, and Future Prospects
As a replacement for the deadlocked Geneva negotiations, the Astana peace process was launched in January 2017 to resolve the Syrian conflict differently. The effort, spearheaded by Russia and carried out by Turkey, Russia, and Iran, brought together opposing forces and aimed to alter the balance of power in Syria. The Astana peace process’ successes, importance to the parties involved, and difficulties in forging a long-lasting political settlement are all examined in this article.
A Shift in Approach
The Astana peace process first prioritised achieving ceasefires and establishing de-escalation zones, in contrast to the Geneva negotiations, which prioritised immediate political solutions and regime change. This change in tactics intended to address urgent humanitarian issues and the end of violence while acknowledging the complexity of the conflict. The Astana process brought the opposing groups to the negotiating table by taking a more practical tack.
Accomplishments and Significance
Despite having modest objectives, the Astana peace process made some significant progress. First, it made it easier to create de-escalation zones inside Syria, reducing bloodshed and improving living circumstances for impacted populations. By guaranteeing the maintenance of Syria’s geographical integrity and preventing the country’s division, the construction of these zones served the national interests of all three of the guarantor nations—Turkey, Russia, and Iran.
The Astana process also gave the guarantors more clout and influence in the war. Despite having different perspectives on the Syrian conflict, the experience helped them become closer. For instance, Russia, which governed Syrian airspace, explicitly approved Turkey’s military actions in northern Syria. The guarantors’ positions at the negotiating table and on the ground improved due to their cooperation.
The Astana dialogue also allowed the Syrian government to reclaim its standing and legitimacy among world leaders. President Bashar al-Assad attended the Arab League conference in Jeddah, bringing Syria back into the Arab fold after a decade of exile. This helped the dictatorship achieve its overall objectives and was a significant diplomatic accomplishment.
Challenges and Future Prospects
Despite its successes, the Astana peace process still has work to reach its end goal of a durable political solution. Changes in the venue and the inclusion of Syria on the track may, as the process progresses, result in the normalisation of ties between Ankara and Damascus, with the cooperation of Moscow and Tehran. Regarding opposition forces, Turkey’s participation in northern Syria, and the refugee crisis, many divisions nevertheless still exist between Ankara and Damascus.
To go on to the next phase of the process, it will be necessary to confront these complex problems and find compromises on divisive topics. The road to a comprehensive political solution is difficult because of the guarantors’ and other parties’ divergent ideas and interests. The initial work of creating de-escalation zones and lowering violence may have been completed as part of the Astana peace process. However, the more significant objective of securing a lasting settlement still needs to be accomplished.
The Astana peace negotiations have significantly altered the dynamics of the Syrian war. It brought opposing parties to the negotiating table and achieved modest but significant accomplishments by prioritising humanitarian concerns and ceasefire accords. The procedure improved the standing of the guarantor nations and gave the Syrian government a chance to win back international support. However, overcoming divergent interests and future aspirations for Syria will present substantial difficulties. The Astana peace process must change to address these issues and open the door for a thorough resolution because the road to a durable political solution remains difficult.