The Turkish provocation: Will it lead to War?

Written by Alan Woods

This morning the Turkish military shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria. It is unclear so far whether it was ground fire or Turkish jets that brought down the Russian plane. But that is a mere detail. What is quite clear is that this was a blatant provocation by the Turkish ruling clique.

Turkish military officials claimed that Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane after “repeatedly warning” its pilots that they were “violating Turkish airspace”. Russia’s defence ministry said an Su-24 had crashed on Syrian territory after being hit by fire from the ground, and that its pilots had managed to eject. Russia insists that its warplane did not violate Turkish airspace. The ministry stressed that “throughout its flight, the aircraft remained exclusively above Syrian territory”, adding: “Objective monitoring data shows it.” The fact is that video footage showed the plane crashing into mountains in Latakia province – that is, inside Syria. The pilots also landed inside Syrian territory. Even the Turkish radar imagery seems to confirm that the plane was shot down over Syrian airspace.

Was it an accident?

Was this a case of a mistake on the part of the Russian pilot? Was the navigation system defective? Such explanations are of course possible. But the first question must be asked is about the readiness of the Turks to open fire. The skies over Syria have got rather crowded lately, with the risk of collisions or other accidents ever present. This is exactly the kind of incident that many have feared since Russia launched its air operations in Syria.

The dangers of operating near to the Turkish border have been all too apparent. It is well known that arrangements to avoid incidents between warplanes over Syria have been made. Why were they ineffective? The bringing down of a Russian plane was a very serious step that could not be taken without express permission from the highest level – that is, from the Turkish President himself. We should point out that Turkish planes have already shot down at least one Syrian air force jet and possibly a helicopter as well earlier on in the civil war.

The Turkish authorities may claim that the arrangements to avoid clashes in the air do not cover the approaches to their “own airspace”. But what exactly constitutes their “own airspace”? The Turkish government claims that the Turkmens who inhabit an area of Syria adjacent to the Turkish border have always been under their “protection”. This assertion gives the game away straight away.

Erdogan’s regional ambitions are well known. He wishes to re-establish something resembling the old Ottoman Empire, bringing large parts of Central Asia and the Middle East under Turkish control. In order to further this ambition he attempts to use the Turkic-speaking peoples like the Turkmens for his own cynical purposes, just as Russian tsarism used the South Slavs in the past as the pawns of an expansionist foreign policy.

It is also an open secret that Erdogan has been supporting ISIS and other Islamist gangs in an attempt to overthrow President Assad and grab slices of Syrian territory. That is why he has allowed a large number of Islamist fighters to cross the Turkish border and join ISIS in Syria, while blocking the supply of arms and volunteers to the anti-ISIS forces in Syria and brutally crushing the Kurds who are fighting ISIS.

And all the while the West has been turning a blind eye to the fact that the Turks – along with the Saudi and Qatari gangsters – have been supporting, arming and financing the Jihadis in Syria – including ISIS. But lately all that has changed.

Read more » http://www.marxist.com/the-turkish-provocation-will-it-lead-to-war.htm

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