POLITICS > Ankara tries to manage crisis with Syria over plane

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News

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Murat Yetkin Murat Yetkin murat.yetkin@hdn.com.tr

Ankara has been trying to resolve the crisis which was started by the shooting down of a Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet by Syrian air defense in Syrian air space over the Mediterranean on June 22.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu chaired a crisis management meeting at his ministry on June 23 in Ankara which the deputy chief of Turkish General Staff, Gen. Hulusi Akar, and head of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Hakan Fidan also attended. That was the second in a row in the last 24 hours. The first one, chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and attended by Gen. Necdet Özel, Davutoğlu and other top government officials was held last night following the incident after which Turkey confirmed that the F-4 had been downed by Syria and two Air Force pilots were missing.

By that time Damascus had already announced that it was they who shot the plane with Russian-made anti-aircraft batteries and later on they understood that it was Turkish. This is understandable since the Bashar al-Assad regime is in big trouble inside because of the civil war and outside it has been vulnerable to Israeli attacks a number of times before; Turkey and Israel use similar types of American-made war planes.

The Turkish reconnaissance plane, which took off from Malatya air base (where recently a NATO radar was based as a part of the Missile Shield System), seemed to be on an intelligence mission in the east Mediterranean. President Abdullah Gül on June 23 said the Turkish plane might have violated Syrian air space by mistake because of its high speed. That is why Turkey is trying not to escalate the scandal by making a statement blaming Syria and not immediately calling NATO for joint action.

The opposition parties are well aware of that. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has said there were a number of questions to ask to the government but Turkey should act in calm and try to solve the crisis through diplomatic means.

The incident has put Turkish foreign policy regarding Syria in additional difficulty. Turkey has been actively taking part in supporting the Syrian opposition in their struggle to depose the al-Assad regime. Turkey has been hosting more than 35,000 refugees from Syria including 12 army officers of brigadier general and higher ranks; they are in contact with the Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army, both having central missions in Turkey.

Following Saturday’s meeting at the Foreign Ministry a third meeting was called by Erdoğan in order to find the proper move to make regarding the incident; one of the most difficult decisions to take in recent years.


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Notice on comments

Blue Dotterel

6/24/2012 4:35:48 PM

Chas, it is pretty strait forward. Despite knowing that there was a serious armed conflict in Syria, someone ordered Turkish warplanes to fly into or near Syrian airspace without warning Syria about their intentions. Clearly, the planes entered Syrian airspace and were justifiably engaged as hostile. One was shot down within Syrian territorial waters. The propaganda in the Western media is that Syria is to blame, whereas, it is obvious that Turkey is solely to blame. Who sent those planes?

MR Somalia

6/24/2012 10:07:13 AM

This mission was carried out on behave of NATO and Western interest. Turks do not want war specially when on daily bases they have bombs and kidnapping inside their own country by PKK. Its not logical to carry out missions on interest of others when you can't resolve your own conflict and on top of that you have no friends in the region. Turks have issue with Russians, Iranians, Iraqis, Greeks, Armenians just to name few...now Syria. Lets see if NATO can be friend to all Turks.

ilker avni

6/24/2012 6:31:02 AM

Turkey can use drones if they wanted to spy on Syria,this could allso be a provocation ? or even a mistake on behalf of the Syrians beliveing another of they planes is defecting to Jordan like the day before.Assad would not want to provoke a Turkish invasion his army would see the chance to defect and would crumble like a deck of cards in a matter of days according to a forma Syrian Ambasadar who has defected from Assads dipolomatic service.I belive the pilots are held by Syrian forces..

Chas Spencer

6/24/2012 1:17:03 AM

@Blue Dotterel - It's hard, very hard to make "Heads or Tails" out of your statement, would you please care to try again?

Free Syrian

6/23/2012 10:16:31 PM

I don't foresee any action by this Turkish government. We have been hearing nothing but warnings and empty threats, then the issue will be forgotten. What a mockery of Turkey!

sam stevens

6/23/2012 8:52:30 PM

Well said Blue, Turkey has been caught in her own web of deceit & intrigue......oh boy, I can only imagine what would happen if this had been the other way round !


6/23/2012 8:42:38 PM

If the plane did wander into Syrian territory there is not much Turks can say publically. Especially if as Syrians claim the jet was about 1 km from their shores, then someone needs to explain this since there can be no such mistake. Regardless, Turkey will need to make Syria pay dearly. Erdogan government looks more like a paper tiger every day. At some point rhetoric needs to match actions.

Free Syrian

6/23/2012 7:15:54 PM

I don't foresee any action by this Turkish government. We have been hearing nothing but warnings and empty threats, then the issue will be forgotten. What a mockery of Turkey!

Blue Dotterel

6/23/2012 5:58:17 PM

The planes were apparently flying low to avoid radar. This sounds like a planned provocation by rogue elements in the military or the government. Who ordered these warplanes to violate Syrian airspace? Someone wants war with Syria. Turkey needs an internal security investigation.
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