Turkey, Russia would not escalate tensions!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff
It appears the Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, etc are just the American tools of imperialism. Of late, Moscow collaborates with NATO. But it is not yet clear if Russian military operations in Syria are a part of larger strategy of USA and NATO in West Asia or its own plan. However, irrespective of outcomes of joint state terror attacks by USA, Russia and Europe, neither USA not Russia would lose anything since they are engaged in a nasty war in a third country – now Syria, committing genocides of Muslims as usual.
America, eminently engaged in wars in Mideast and elsewhere as it is increasingly facing threat to its very super power status as it has been badly exposed in Syria, says the ongoing Russo-Turkey standoff following the plane incident is weakening its effort to bring down Assad, even as Russia is focusing on NATO backed Syrian rebels, rather than ISIS.
More and more western powers, lately France and UK, have joined the Syrian war in an effort to destabilize it completely – whether President Assad is removed or not – does not seem to be the main issue here. Starting in Afghanistan, the US led terror wars have not made any nation that the NATO allies invaded is a safe place now.
In fact, taking full advantage of adamant posture of Assad Russia arrived in Syria, bombing and killing Syrians. Now it appears all European militaries would land up in that Arab nation to “clean up” that Arab nation the way they want. Syrians have got no choices at all lot since Assad is only happy to see complete decadence of Syria if he is not allowed to continue as president forever. USA, Europe and Russia are exploiting the helplessness of Syrian people and the strange discord among Arab nations to defend the political freedoms of Arab nations. While the Arab nations, focusing only on oil trade and crony capitalism, are unable to make USA do justice for the besieged Palestinians, who remain tortured by Israel-Egypt terror twins through military blockades and economic tirades, their own position has become weakened as sovereign nations as they have to obey US-Israeli orders.
Russian entry into Syrian conflict has also strained its relations with Turkey as both exchange accusations over Turkish gunning down of a Russian war plane for air space violations. USA wants everything in Arab world taking place only as per its plan and does not want Russia to supersede its advantages in Syria and Mideast at large.
After downing the Russian jet on Nov. 24, tensions have run high between Turkey and Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident as a “stab in the back,” while the country announced a number of economic measures that they are to take against Turkey. Russia’s iron man Putin also accused Turkey of being an accomplice of ISIL and facilitating ISIL making money through the sale of oil at its border.
Putin has demanded an apology and reimbursement for the damages, but both Erdoğan and Davutoglu have stressed that Turkey will not apologize for defending its airspace. Erdoğan insisted that it is Russia that needs to apologize to Turkey for violating its airspace. Russia denies that it intruded on Turkish airspace, but NATO and the US back Turkey, saying that there was a violation of airspace.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the AP that the downing of the Russian jet by Turkey has not only frayed what were previously warm ties between Russia and Turkey, but has also put a strain on the peace talks for Syria that are taking place in Vienna. Russia insists the Syrian peace talks cannot go ahead until all parties agree on which opposition groups should be covered by a possible cease-fire and which should be targeted by airstrikes. Moscow says it is now more determined than ever to get other parties to agree on a list of “terrorist” groups in Syria before the next round of talks. Zakharova said Russia had intelligence about Turkey buying oil from ISIL a while ago but preferred not to publicize it.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu accused Russia of trying to “cover up” its infringement of Turkey’s airspace with “unfounded” claims that Turkey is illegally importing oil from ISIL. Erdoğan has said he is prepared to step down if Russia can prove the claims and has urged Putin to do the same if he cannot prove them. “It is not possible to cover up the violation of the Turkish airspace with unfounded accusations against Turkey,” Davutoglu said. Davutoglu also said Russia is turning the Syrian crisis into a “crisis between Russia and Turkey.”
Meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on December 01 on the sidelines of the global climate talks in Paris, US President Barack Obama urged him to defuse the tension with Russia and focus on fighting against the so-called ISIS (ISIL), following Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet last week at the Syrian border, and called on Turkey to seal its Syrian border.
Obama met Erdoğan in Paris a week after the Turkish military shot down a Russian Su-24 due to an airspace violation at Turkey’s Syrian border. The US president urged both Turkey and Russia to “de-escalate” their conflict and not get distracted from the campaign against ISIL. He also appeared to be supporting Turkey, saying that it is Turkey’s right to protect its borders and airspace and expressed the commitment of the US to “Turkey’s security and its sovereignty.” “We all have now a common enemy. That is ISIL,” said Obama, adding that he wants to make sure all parties focus on that threat. Obama has also announced to Americans he would soon come out with a plan to defeat ISIS.
After his meeting with Erdoğan, Obama said there has been some progress in sealing the border between Turkey and Syria but that there are still some “gaps” exploited by ISIL to bring in foreign fighters and sell oil. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter also named Turkey as one of the countries that needed to do more in the fight against ISIL, including tightening control of its border with Syria. “Turkey must do more to control its often porous border,” Carter told a congressional panel, noting that Saudi Arabia and Gulf states had been “preoccupied by the conflict in Yemen.”
Russia is also under pressure by the USA to focus its airstrikes against ISIL, rather than the US-backed Syrian opposition groups fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russia entered into Syria in September and bolstered its military presence in the country first, then started to pound the Syrian opposition forces in an attempt to help Assad. However, Russia says that it is going after terrorists.
Sitting down with Erdoğan in Paris for roughly an hour, Obama said the USA was very interested in accelerating its military relationship with Turkey. He praised Turkey for accepting Syrian refugees who fled from the Syrian conflict. Although crediting Turkey for bolstering security at the Syrian border, Obama pointed out that there are still “gaps” and Turkey needs to fix those gaps in order to fight against ISIL.
Obama said it was possible over the coming months that Russia would undergo a “shift in calculations” and back away from its support for Assad. “I don’t expect that you’re going to see a 180-degree turn on their strategy over the next several weeks. They have invested for years now in keeping Assad in power. Their presence there is predicated on propping him up. That’s going to take some time for them to change how they think about the issue.” He also stressed that he expects the diplomatic negotiations in Vienna to pursue a political solution to Syria’s civil war will move forward at the same time that the US-led coalition applies greater pressure to defeat ISIL. Obama pointed out that the terrorist threat in the Middle East and the West would not be eliminated in the short term. “ISIL is going to continue to be a deadly organization because of its social media, the resources it has and the networks of experienced fighters that it possesses. It’s going to continue to be a serious threat for some time to come,” he added.
Although Erdoğan expressed his willingness to sit down with Putin to discuss the incident on the sidelines of the climate talks in Paris, Putin refused to meet with him. Speaking during an interview with France 24 TV channel last week, Erdoğan also said he called Putin after the incident but the Russian president never returned his call.
In the meantime, changing his previous accusation of oil issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Turkey shot down the Russian jet to prevent the efforts of a wider international coalition in the fight against ISIL. He called Turkish policies “provocative” and “two-faced.” Russia says it’s conducting preemptive strikes against ISIL militants but Turkey insists that there are no ISIL militants in the area. Referring to the Bayır-Bucak Turkmens, Erdoğan said: “They are Turkish descendants. That area is continuously bombed.”
Speaking to the reporters after meeting with Obama, Erdoğan said Turkey also hopes to diffuse any tension with Russia. Stressing that a return to a “diplomatic language” would be “sufficient” to resolve the tensions with Russia, Erdoğan said, “We want peace to prevail at all costs.” “As coalition forces, we are determined to keep up the fight against ISIL and ISIL forces on the ground,” he said. Erdoğan pointed out that more than 500 civilians had been killed recently in the area where Bayır-Bucak Türkmens live in Syria, near the Turkish border.
Russo-Turkey relations strained all of a sudden. Both Turkey and Russia managed to maintain a reasonable relationship until Turkey shot down a Russian jet on Nov. 24. Russia had violated Turkish airspace twice before, once on Oct. 3 and the other a day later on Oct. 4. By firmly attacking on the Russian war plane, Turkey has started to appear to act too self-ordained in Syria and that the West, including the USA, may benefit from this incident by naturally drawing Turkey closer to itself and more under control.
The fact remains that that the jet downing incident gives Russia “a pretext to become more active in Syria.” According to Bacık, such an incident is creating more space for Russia on the Syrian ground. Russia seemed using the Syrian opportunity available to it to cross space-air borders in Mideast, clashing directly with Turkish military. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Turkey that it will regret its behavior more than once and that Moscow will not let Ankara escape merely with sanctions on Turkish tomatoes and construction projects. Putin asked Turkey to apologize for the incident and reimburse for the damages. But Turkish leaders refused to apologize to Russia, saying that Turkey had only been defending its airspace. President Erdoğan said it is Russia that needs to apologize to Turkey for violating Turkish airspace. Russian boar cannot take the incident coolly and it wants to retaliate.
Russia said the downing of the jet was a historic breaking point and that Russian diplomacy from now on will work against Turkey around the world. Russia would like to reinforce its anti-Turkey policies with the support of other allies of Russia, such as Iran, China and India but that may not succeed since each has now set its own goals. Russia may take some negative steps against Turkey on every international platform, with regards to Caucasia, the Mediterranean, Cyprus and beyond. .
Interestingly, just a couple of months ago Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended an opening ceremony for a mosque in Russia with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The downing of the Russian war jet dramatically exposed the increasing gap between Russia and Turkey, as they have different interests in Syria. Turkey has been supporting the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Russia, along with İran, supports the Assad regime. Russia started to boost its military presence in Syria in September and launched a military offensive against Syrian opposition forces that are backed by Turkey and the US. But Russia says its military campaign aims for the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq.
Perhaps, former super power Russia is preparing for an anti-Turkey strategy to teach Ankara a lesson. However, it cannot attack Turkey because USA would be drawn into conflict directly with NATO forces joining the Turkey side. If a member state is attacked by an ”enemy” like Russia, the NATO is duty bound to retaliate. After all, NATO was founded by USA and allies to protect against the spread of communism and ion of expansion of Russian empire. Puitn knows it too well.
Meanwhile, however, diplomacy does not stop performing its rule as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Belgrade, in an attempt to reduce tension and mend ties.
Apparently, Russia and Turkey are wiling talk and would very much like to reduce mutual hatred and tensions and certainly not to intensify or escalate tensions, obviously because that is not in interest of both of them.
The downing of the jet may have been the last straw for Russia in the building tension due to the differing views for the future of Syria. However, true, the tension over the downing of the jet may ease in time, but Russia’s negative view of Turkey — which started to change some time ago – needs to improve in order to build up mutual trust foe better relations. .
It would be worthwhile for President Putin to recall that Turkey had opted for NATO in order to be safe from any Soviet attack on its territory and Turkey does not think it is safe now. UN veto power Russia needs to reassure the Turkish government in deeds that both could be true partners in international relations.
Russia has to do a lot in order to erase its past rivalry and hatred towards Turkey so that good foundations could be laid for mutually beneficial ties. The Kremlin needs to infuse and in ensure positive thinking in Turkey about Russian intentions in Syria and elsewhere so that the current Russo-Turkey tensions could not be exploited by their common enemies.
Russia and Turkey have the capacity to resist temptations to bully one another!