BURAK BEKDİL > What a difference a couple of years may make!

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The frank and disturbing realism is: If a country’s air force can mistakenly bomb its own people and kill 34 innocent citizens it is hardly surprising that the air defenses of another country can mistakenly down a foreign aircraft in its airspace.

Turkey certainly has every liberty to demand a formal apology from Syria for shooting down one of its reconnaissance aircrafts, but it should first apologize for killing 34 Kurdish smugglers which its fighter jets mistook for terrorists six months ago.

It’s bizarre that Turkey has had to knock on NATO’s door to invoke Article 4 of the alliance’s treaty three years after it pledged a foreign policy of “zero problems” with neighbors. Ironically, the last time NATO held a meeting under Article 4 was also at Turkey’s request in 2003 regarding another neighboring nation, Iraq. I personally do not want to think about the consequences if Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had built an aggressive foreign policy instead of a peaceful one.

It is also bizarre that Ankara, once an all too willing broker for peace between disputing countries in the region, now needs multiple brokers to settle deepening disputes with countries in the surrounding vicinity. These days, the neo-Ottomans need the good offices of Russia and China to keep peace with Syria; ironically call on NATO and Iran at the same time to help sort out the crisis of the downed military plane in Syria; the United States for peace with Israel; the European Union for peace around Cyprus; and Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani for peace in Turkey’s southeast.

We have no idea if the doomed Turkish jet flew at an altitude of 100 meters as the Syrians claim or much, much higher as the Turks claim. Nor do we know if it was shot by air defense guns as the Syrians claim or by a missile as the Turks claim. But a few things look suspicious.

First, Turkey’s claim that the RF-4E was on a training mission is not entirely convincing. The RF-4Es are equipped with surveillance and photography pods for reconnaissance (intelligence gathering) missions. For the best results they generally fly in the lowest possible altitudes to escape radar detection and to obtain better “photography” in the targeted area.

Second, Ankara claims the aircraft was shot down 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast, hence in international airspace. According to this thesis the Turkish plane was flying one mile outside Syrian airspace. If we recall that Turkey also admits the Turkish plane briefly violated Syrian airspace before it was downed, we can conclude that the Syrian air defenses must have fired while the Turkish jet was flying in Syrian airspace.

This is because it would take an RF-4E approximately less than 30 seconds to fly one mile while the anti-aircraft gun or missile that hit the plane could not have traveled that distance in 30 seconds. And how many times before could Turkish aircrafts have violated Syrian airspace for similar “training missions” is not known.

That’s the darker side of the technicality of the tragedy, but I am not sure if the incident is perceived as a tragedy or as an opportunity in Ankara. All the same, we can guess that further Turkish acts of gambling over Syria may eventually squeeze the Turkish government under a domestic suspicion with more and more people questioning Turkey’s newfound might.

There are already millions of Turks gossiping in coffee houses who will cheer if Turkey declared war on Syria, Turkish jets bombed Damascus and tanks rolled into Aleppo. When these neo-Ottoman masses have noticed that their all-too-powerful Turkey failed to knock down all of Syria, Iran, Russia and China altogether they may be dangerously disappointed.

With an Israeli apology for Mavi Marmara not in sight, the Israeli-Cypriot exploration for hydrocarbons off Cyprus progresses, the RF-4E downed by Syria with two pilots unfortunately still missing and the helplessness against perpetual PKK attacks, the foreign policy masters in Ankara may have to find an easier target to distract public disappointment.

Georgia, Armenia (and others), watch out!


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Ararat Araradian

6/27/2012 3:43:58 PM

I would be very carefull before retaining Armenia an easier target to distract public disappointment.. Unless you want to enjoy watching mushroom clouds over Ankara!

Deniz Can

6/27/2012 2:17:24 PM

The article of Mr.Burak is a mirror reflecting true colours of the picture. It shows the hidden colours. There is no doubt that the AKP has achieved some successful works since 2002. On the other hand, the AKP gradually stuck to narrow party based interests, which pushed the party towards the attitude of denial, contradiction, conflict and biased politics. Mr. Burak has given enough examples in his article. In terms of democracy, powers pushing Syria into internal war bury their head into sand


6/27/2012 12:40:56 PM

The idea was to create a protection zone for the rebels near the border so that they could continue to fight the regime from a secure home base. The fighter was sent to test Syria and now that the jet has been shot down Mr Ergodgan, with NATO's backing, can declare a no flight zone near the Turkish border. Lets accept the fact that Mr Erdogan is playing a wonderful game of creating a confrontation and then accusing others (Syria and Israel) of being war mongers. Well done Tayyip!!!

sam stevens

6/27/2012 12:21:13 PM

Turks are lucky to have your regular appraisals of modern Turkey, Mr Bekdil. Reading your page is a breath of fresh air....long may it last My personal opinion on why Erdogan calls on Nato,UN et al, for assistance is 'because he can', it's an ego thing 'saying look at me I have friends,I'm all powerful ', [ power drunk ] it's like a warning to his ever growing list of enemies.

dogan kemal ileri

6/27/2012 11:42:19 AM

Turkiye has released all the radar tapes whereas Syria has released none.The Turkish position is correct and the Syrians are adject liers.Correct international procedure was not followed and the Turkish jet was probably shot down by a Russian finger on the button.Anyway Turkiye is now on red alert and the process of arming and supporting Syrian dissidents will now procedd at a much higher level thus bringing down the Assad regime that much quicker.The Syrians have shot themselves in the foot.

Rimon Tree

6/27/2012 8:42:02 AM

BB Now I really worry about your freedom! This government does not like people to tell the truth or make them feel guilty! Erdogan already bashed "some columnists" of being treacherous and against the interests of their country. And we all know what happens to people who dare to oppsose! I agree with every point of your analysis and despise those clear Neo-Ottoman aspirations. I wonder about the West, NATO radar installation really worth letting Erdogan get away with such obvious warmongering?

The Lion

6/27/2012 2:41:25 AM

Never mind that Assad is fighting 90 % of his own people and the other day a general and 3 colonels defected, right, Bekdil?

The Lion

6/27/2012 2:40:50 AM

Never mind that Russia had 3 more modern aircraft shot down over Georgia in their 2008 occupation of Georgia and nobody pretends that Russia didn't win that conflict.

moshe pipick

6/27/2012 1:29:27 AM

I dont know why the Peace and dev party is not making peace with anyone. Now they cant get along with the tyrants and dictators that they love. They pick fights everywhere and then they want the other guy to apologize. Is collecting apologies a new war tactic? Maybe Erdogan could send the Marmara to Syria so that even more apologies can be generated. If apologies are not given, maybe Erdogan can just talk the enemy to death.

Mitch McHanan

6/27/2012 1:04:46 AM

Wow!!! and nobody arresting you, yet?
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