The Arab newspapers issued during the past week dealt with the rapprochement between the Damascus government and the Turkish occupation.
Operating the M4 is Turkey's first step in the path of normalization with Damascus
The beginning of the Syrian issue, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper said: "With the continued escalation on the contact axes in Aleppo and the mutual targeting between the regime forces and the Turkish forces and the factions loyal to them, Turkish movements began in Idlib to open the Aleppo-Latakia International Road (M4) in implementation of the memorandum of understanding signed with Russia in Moscow on March 5, 2020, in what could be the first actual step towards progress in the path of normalization between Ankara and the Syrian regime under Russian auspices.
After the postponement of the meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Russia and Syria, which was talked about taking place during the current January, and Ankara's announcement of the possibility of holding a second meeting of defense ministers that precedes the meeting of foreign ministers that may be held in mid-February, it seems that Moscow does not want in the path of normalization between Ankara and Damascus loses its rhythm despite the divergence in positions.
After the meeting of the defense ministers in Moscow on December 28, Ankara began to focus on the file of opening the Aleppo-Latakia International Road (M4), whose continued closure was a negative point that Moscow recorded for Ankara since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in Moscow in March 2020. The file is again on the table during the normalization talks and meetings between Turkey and the Syrian regime. According to sources and media reports, Turkey wants to operate the road under three-way supervision, along with Russia and the regime, which has always insisted on having full control of the road, whose forces already control most of it, while the Turkish forces and their loyal factions control a small section of it.
The reports revealed that officials from the Turkish army and intelligence have informed the factions of their readiness to operate the road, and that Turkey wants, first, not to hand over the road completely before testing the effectiveness of the tripartite cooperation mechanism, provided that it is handed over to the regime and the Turkish points withdrawn from it after making sure that there will be no clashes and battles. A new wave on the road will cause a new wave of displacement towards its lands, which will exacerbate the refugee problem, which is a main item in the talks with the regime and Russia.
It was reported that two meetings were held, last week, between Turkish officials and leaders of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which dealt with protecting and securing Turkish observation points on the road and not approaching them, (as happened recently when demonstrators stormed some of those points to protest the rapprochement with the regime), as confirmed not to take any actions that lead to the failure of the plan to open the road in the event of an agreement with Damascus and Moscow.
It added that Turkey had put forward a plan to operate the M4 highway and open the transit route through Syria, by restarting the Bab al-Hawa crossing, which is under the control of the HTS, and which the regime is demanding sovereignty over and supervising its operation.
Sources linked these movements to the recent escalation of attacks by Tahrir al-Sham on the regime's positions in the frontlines in Idlib, where the "Tahrir al-Sham" is trying to impose its presence through dialogue with Turkey, at a time when Moscow is adopting a strict stance and pressure on Ankara to isolate it from the rest of the factions. Especially since it is included in the list of terrorism in Turkey.