Gülen’s effect on Turkey’s foreign policy

Gülen’s effect on Turkey’s foreign policy

On Nov. 24, 2015, the Turkish Armed Forces shot down a Russian military aircraft that had violated Turkish airspace along the country’s Syrian border. 

After the incident, then prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said:

1) “We want everyone to know that we take every necessary measure when our [country’s] existence and the lives and honor of our citizens are at stake.”

2) ”It is our international right and national duty to take every measure against the violators of our air and land borders.”

3) “The Russian aircraft was shot down in line with our rules of engagement.”

4) “The [order to shoot down any violator of our air space] was given to the [military] General Staff by myself.” 

5) “Seventy eight million [Turks] are happy about and proud of the Armed Forces’ move [to shoot down the Russian aircraft].”

6) “We warned the Russians … We could not have let them massacre the Turkmens by violating our air space … The [Russian] aircraft was shot within Turkish airspace.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said after the incident: 

1) “What business do you [Russians] have there [in Syria]?”

2) “If the same [airspace] violation occurs again, Turkey will respond in the same way.”

3) “Those who violated our airspace will have to apologize to us … I find it difficult to accept that Turkey is expected to take the first step [for entente with Russia].” (That was about a month before President Erdoğan apologized - or expressed “regret” - to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the incident). 

4) “It is curious how Russia could give up on Turkey only because of a [Russian] pilot’s mistake.”

5) “If there is someone who should apologize it is not us … Those who violated our airspace should apologize to us.”

6) “The incident is only about the automatic functioning of our [military] rules of engagement. Everyone must respect our sovereignty rights.”

7) “Everyone must respect Turkey’s right to protect its borders.”

Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu said: 

“We don’t need to apologize for an incident where we are right.” 


And now, this story appeared in our newspaper after the  coup of July 15: 

“Two Turkish pilots who played a role in the downing of a Russian jet in November are in custody over the failed July 15 coup in Turkey, an official said late on June 18.

“The downing of the Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border sparked an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Russia, which ended last month when the two countries agreed to restore ties.

“‘Two pilots who were part of the operation to down the Russian Su-24 in November 2015 are in custody,’ a Turkish official told journalists, adding that they were detained over links to the coup bid.”

President Erdoğan, meanwhile, suggested that “these pilots may have links to Pennsylvania [the Gülenist headquarters]. They are being investigated.”

In Turkish politics, this whole thing  is called “our principled foreign policy.” 

It was not in vain that President Erdoğan last month disowned his once fierce support for the Mavi Marmara flotilla and slammed the organizers, who he once viewed as heroes and innocent activists. 

It seems that the days when “terrorist groups” are accused of pitting Mr. Erdoğan’s Turkey and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria against each other are not too far away.