Condemn Turkey's heinous act

Condemn Turkey's heinous act

It is a matter of serious concern that at a time when the international community should be uniting to fight the Islamic State and find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, the possibility of an armed conflict erupting between Turkey and Russia looms. On Tuesday, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet downed a Russian SU-22 bomber near the Syrian border. Turkey has accused Russia of violating its airspace. Moscow responded angrily, describing Turkey’s action as “a stab in the back carried out by accomplices of terrorists”. Its comment was aimed at outing Turkey’s ties with IS. The ongoing war of words may escalate into a military exchange, even a war. Turkey has convened a meeting of NATO members. And while it has chosen not to activate NATO’s collective defence clause, its shooting down of the Russian bomber is a provocative act that could escalate a situation that is already fraught with tension. It was only a little over a week ago that hope emanated from the G20 summit in Antalya when world leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder to signal unity of commitment in fighting the IS. That show of unity, which came in the wake of the deadly IS attacks in Paris, was heartening. This was the first time in many months that the West and Russia signalled willingness to work together. It was a giant step forward given the huge gap that separates their positions on the Syrian crisis. At Antalya, the big powers were showing a new maturity, perhaps even sense of responsibility in their joint approach to the IS.

That has changed. Turkey’s provocative action must be condemned in strongest terms. Unfortunately, the US has come out in support of Turkey by asserting that it was acting in self defence. Turkey’s discomfort with Russian operations in northern Syria is well known
given its close relations with IS. It fears Moscow’s air strikes on IS strongholds would undermine its own influence in Syria. Its shooting down of the Russian jet is believed to be aimed at creating a crisis that would force the UN to declare a no-fly zone in the area.
If the US is serious about defeating IS, it must rein in Turkey. Endorsing Turkey’s action may cement ties within NATO but this would be imprudent in the long run as IS gains immeasurably from a divided opposition. A cautious and cool-headed approach is the need of the hour. Politicians and military leaders must step aside to allow diplomats to do their work.
DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)