Apricot of Damascus…
When Turks are delighted with something or with a development, they often say “Better than this might only be finding an apricot in Damascus.” Of course the saying might have become obsolete now. In today’s world thanks to globalization of commercial activities not only the famous apricots of Turkey’s Malatya and Iğdır areas but all sorts of delicious and juicy fruits from all corners of Turkey can be found throughout the arid Arab lands, including Syria.
Times are changing. Everything is changing. As is said, the only thing that does not change is the theory that everything changes. A country in less than 24 hours may negotiate and sign with a neighboring country some 30 agreements, including one lifting visa requirement for nationals of two countries in touristic or commercial travel to the other. They may as well decide to hold joint council of ministers meetings. Leaders of the two countries may entertain each other at lavish ceremonies or the two leaders might go together to soccer matches. The two leaders might develop even brotherly relations. There can be nothing odd if all of a sudden something changes or someone gets an order from somewhere and perceptions of the two countries vis-a-vis each other and about their leaders change all together.
In the apparently Western-instigated uprising in Syria against the Baathist Basher al-Assad regime an existential fight is being waged. Besides rhetorical upheavals of the tall, bald, bold and always angry man in Ankara, there are very serious claims that with cash contributions from some Arab countries and “know-how” from American intelligence, Turkey started playing a key role in helping Syrian rebels overcome organizational hurdles as well as hardware deficiencies. That is why, according to some claims, the Syrian rebels, who were close to being defeated in early April, are now far stronger and far better organized.
Thus, not only for the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, in Damascus also Turkey has become “a friend that turned into an enemy.”
The downing of a Turkish military plane, irrespective of whether it was armed or not, was a very serious development. Did the plane violate Syrian air space? There are procedures to be followed if airspace of a country is violated by a foreign plane. Downing the intruder cannot and should not be an automatic response. On the other hand why was the Turkish reconnaissance plane flying so low, in an area close to a Russian base; and why did it keep on going in and out of Syrian airspace so many times in the 15-minute period before it was downed? Was it testing the air defense capabilities of Syria (or the Russian base) before an intervention which might come later this year?
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu answering questions from a guy posing as reporter on state TV declared that under Article 4 of the NATO treaty (a condition to implement Article 5, that is, joint defense) Ankara would brief its allies on the grave development. The prime minister, in a surprise move, briefed the opposition leaders on developments. On Tuesday he will deliver a policy statement on the issue.
Wow… Developments indicate that Syria will remain in the frying pan for some time.
Now, what are apparently rare are not dates of Syria or apricots of Malatya.
Anyone willing to lend some common sense?