Trump & Putin Try to End Syrian War
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin took steps on Tuesday to repair the broken relationship between the United States and Russia, following a month of heightened tensions in the wake of an American military strike against Syria, one of Russia’s only allies in the Middle East. In their first conversation since Putin strongly criticized the American missile attack, the two leaders discussed Syria and North Korea, and agreed to work together to end the civil war and to stop the spread of Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq. The United States is now expected to participate in talks on later this week with Russia, Iran, and Turkey to suggest conditions for a cease-fire agreement in Syria.
Trump and Putin Discuss the Fate of Syrian Refugees
Both Trump and Putin have placed an emphasis in the past on establishing safe zones, where Syrian nationals can be held within the country until the fighting ends. This would stem the flow of refugees into Europe and North America. However, after the call, there were differing accounts from each side regarding how much time was spent covering how the safe zones would be implemented. The White House statement said that the humanitarian implications were explored, while the Kremlin’s spokesman denied that the safe zones were the subject of substantive discussions.
Syrian Cease-Fire Talks Scheduled This Week in Kazakhstan
Russia plans to bring up buffer zones when the upcoming talks in Astana, Kazakhstan begin. The goal would be to have a separation between the government forces and the rebels, which would be maintained by soldiers from Russia, Iran, and Turkey. However, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has expressed concern over this arrangement, and has called it an intermediary step towards partitioning the country. Analysts have mixed expectations for the talks, as an earlier conference jointly sponsored by the United States and Russia under the Obama administration failed to produce tangible results.
Syria President al-Assad Targets Civilians in Fight Against Rebels and IS
The civil war in Syria has raged for six years, and resulted in the deaths of nearly 450,000 people. The situation became much worse since Islamic State infiltrated parts of the country in 2014. Facing a battle against both rebel forces and guerrilla insurgents, President al-Assad began to use chemical weapons against civilian targets in areas controlled by the opposition. Due to multiple interventions by Russia, the United Nations was unable to vote for sanctions, encouraging al-Assad to continue his use of agents such as chlorine gas and sarin, despite an agreement in 2013 to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.
Turkey Fights Syrian Kurds in Defiance of U.S. Wishes
The shifting nature of the coalition fighting Islamic State in the region has muddied the waters further. One of America’s major allies, Turkey, has repeatedly staged attacks against Kurds inside the Syrian border, despite the fact that these fighters are also staging operations against Islamic State. The lack of coordination between Turkey and the United States has increased tensions in the NATO bloc. Additionally, Turkey has begun to back away from a deal brokered in March of 2016, in which Turkey agreed to shoulder the burden of caring for the majority of Syrian refugees, in return for liberal work visas for Turkish citizens.
Trump and Putin Mend Fences
This week’s call is the third between Putin and Trump since January, and based on the tone of the conversation, Trump is hoping to repair the lines of communication that broke down over allegations that Russia had interfered with the American elections and after Putin’s defense of a Syrian gas attack against civilians in early April. Putin downplayed Russia’s role in influencing foreign policy, stating “We never interfere in the political life and the political processes of other countries, and we don’t want anybody interfering in our political life and foreign policy processes.”
How Will the Latest Talks between Trump and Putin Affect Trading?
Traders in the commodities sector will be the primary beneficiary of an improved relationship between the United States and Russia. Oil prices are likely to go down if the two countries can begin cooperating. Some political experts have suggested that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, formerly CEO of Exxon Mobil, was chosen for his position due to his experience in negotiating with Russian oil producers. As the OPEC crafted drilling restrictions come to an end, Russia will once again be looking for sales partners. A more stable political environment will also lower gold prices, as investors leave safe havens looking for better earnings.