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Analysis: Russia bombing Turkmen prompted Turkey to down Russian airplane

While the Ex-Commander of the Turkish Navy has argued that downing the Russian airplane was a mistake, Syrian political dissident Aboud Dandachi believes that Russia provoked the crisis by bombing Turkmen in Syria and violating Turkish airspace. Israeli Middle East scholar Mordechai Kedar believes that the crisis was only a matter of time.
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Following the downing of the Russian airplane yesterday, there has been mixed reactions. Some have argued that the Russian airplane did not pose any threat to Turkey.   It was not like a whole group of Russian battle planes were invading Turkish territory and dropping bombs.   Supposing that Turkey’s accusations are true, only one Russian airplane that was operating in Syria accidently crossed the border and didn’t heed the Turkish warnings that they claim to have given.    Nevertheless, these individuals argue that it was no reason to down an airplane that did not pose any threat to Turkey as nothing would have happened to Turkey had they not shot it down and by shooting it down, a crisis has ensued.

In the wake of the downing of a Russian airplane, Russian-Turkish relations have significantly deteriorated.  Military cooperation between the two countries has come to an abrupt end.    Russian tourists won't be visiting Turkey and Turkey relies a lot uponn Russian tourists.   Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Turkey is a country that serves as accomplices for terrorists and stressed that there will be serious consequences for Turkey’s actions.    Now, tensions have risen between NATO and Russia as well due to the tense relations between the two countries presently, thus leading to a deterioration in the Syrian crisis.

According to Turkish Israeli journalist Rafael Sadi, Ex-Commander of the Turkish Navy Admiral Nusret Guner proclaimed that the downing of the Russian airplane was a mistake: “The plane did not pose any danger to the Turkish authorities and did not fire any bombs.  To open fire on a Russian airplane has very serious consequences and may burn up the entire region.  This decision was taken by junior level staff and not by senior level officials in the Turkish Armed Forces. To shoot down a Russian airplane might lead us to an unnecessary war.”

The Turkish Navy Admiral acknowledged that under the AKP, most of the Turkish military officials reached their positions due to their political ideas and not their competent skills.  He views this to be very problematic: “Their duty is to do what the country needs and not what the political government wants.  The army must solve this problem soon.  The responsibility lies with the Prime Minister.  In international relations, there is no room for bravado actions.  This is not smart at all.”

However, in an exclusive interview with JerusalemOnline, Syrian political dissident Aboud Dandachi believes that this reaction was inevitable due to Russia’s behavior towards Turkey and Turkmens in Syria: “The Russians have been violating Turkish airspace repeatedly for a month now.  The Turks kept ignoring it but when Putin started to bomb Turkmen villages; that was too much!   What was the Russian jet even doing in that area?  The closest ISIS positions are 150 kilometers away.”

“Putin was bombing the very groups that had been previously bombing ISIS, so he gets no sympathy from me, even if it turns out the jet was in Syrian airspace,” Dandachi stressed.  “You cannot just barge into a region and ignore the wishes of the established regional powers.  The Americans learned that the hard way in Iraq and now the Russians will learn it.”

Dadachi noted that if the Turks had continued to ignore violations to their airspace, “the next violation might have been more dangerous.  This was a clear signal to Putin that Turkey wouldn’t be intimidated and he better go find easier prey.  If you test the resolve of a regional power, you have no business whining when they respond forcefully.  Israel would have reacted exactly the same way.  A few months back, they shot down a Syrian SU-24 flying over the Golan Heights.”

Israeli Middle East scholar Mordechai Kedar also believes that Turkey is motivated by how Russia has been treating the Turkmen in Syria, thus making the clash between the two countries inevitable: “They did it because of what those airplanes are doing.  They are bombing people that are backed by Turkey.  This is the problem.  Russia and Turkey are on two sides of the equation.  Russia supports Assad while Turkey is fighting him via third parties.   The clash between those two countries was only a matter of time.  Yesterday, those Russian airplanes apparently were bombing a place where Turkish ethnic people are living.   Those people are Turkish whom the Russians are bombing.  Turkey would not allow this.  Now, it is a matter of two very strong leaders who are like bulls.  Nobody gives up.   No one give up first.”   


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