“This agreement paves the way for Turkey to enter in the event of adverse events,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, two days after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a rally in the eastern province of Erzurum, reaffirming his willingness to fully implement the agreement. Now that Turkey has reached important agreements with Russia and the United States on a long-planned security zone in Syria, an anti-terrorism agreement between Damascus and Ankara in 1998 has once again made headlines. Syrian state media reported that Damascus was currently refusing to abide by the agreement. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad rejected the idea that the agreement had been signed under pressure and said he had approved it because he had decided that the best thing for Syria was “to be friends with the Turkish people”, which he said was not reconciled with Syrian support for Kurdish groups.  The Adana Agreement (pronounced [a da.na]; in Turkish: Adana Mutabakat; In Arabic: “) was a 1998 agreement between Turkey and Syria on the expulsion of the Kurdistan Workers` Party (PKK) from Syria. He added that Ankara could use the Adana Agreement to legally justify Turkish operations inside Syria, as Syria was obliged, under the 1998 agreement, to prevent Kurdish fighters from using its territory as the scene of attacks inside Turkey. Putin`s goal is to encourage Turkey to cooperate with the Syrian regime. After the withdrawal of the United States, he wants Bashar Assad to take control of all areas controlled by the YPG. At the same time, the Russian leader referred to the Adana agreement to ensure that the security zone focuses on border security. Finally, he sent a message to YPG fighters and encouraged them to maintain dialogue with the regime.
Both Turkey and the Syrian regime`s regional ally, Russia, agree that the agreement remains relevant and should be implemented. He stressed that Turkey`s military operations are in line with the Astana agreement of January 2017, in which Turkey, Russia and Iran are guarantors, and that they are also cemented by the Sochi agreement between the three countries. In accordance with the agreement, Syria recognized the PKK as a terrorist group and banned all its activities and those of its affiliated groups on the territory of the country. The agreement was updated in 2010, a year before the start of the war in Syria, and the Turkish Parliament approved it in 2011. Turkey and Syria will lead broader cooperation in the fight against terrorism. Although the agreement is still in force on a technical level, Turkey, since the start of the war in Syria in 2011, has sought the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, thus severely grating diplomatic relations. In a speech to the Turkish Military Academy on Thursday, Erdogan hinted that the Russian proposal could work: “[The Adana agreement] was based on the handover of the separatist terrorist organization to us. The fact that the agreement was reached during our discussions with President Putin helps us to better understand that we need to emphasize.
Turkey has already embarked on this path. In the 1980s and 1990s, Iran supported the PKK to undermine Turkey`s secular democratic political system – the regional antithesis to the authoritarian style of religious governance of the Islamic Republic.