Erdogan aims to derail Russia-NATO alliance

Lest we forget ISIS gets rockstar treatment at Turkish hospitals after crossing the border seeking to get treatment for war injuries.

 

The fact is that the Russian plane, by Turkey’s own admission, was in Turkish airspace for precisely 17 seconds. That’s a little less time than it takes to read this paragraph aloud. The Turks shot it down anyway — and their allies publicly backed them, as loyal allies must.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg declared: “We stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO ally, Turkey.” President Barack Obama called his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to assure him that the United States supported Turkey’s right to defend its sovereignty. But privately, they must have been cursing Erdogan. They know what he’s up to.

This is the first time in more than 50 years that a NATO plane has shot down a Russian plane, and it happened in very suspicious circumstances.

Either way, it seems quite clear that Erdogan really wanted to shoot down a Russian aircraft, and that the Turkish pilots were under orders to do so if they could find even the slightest pretext. So why would Erdogan want to do that?

Putin said bitterly that Erdogan and his colleagues were “accomplices of terrorists.” That’s hard to deny: Erdogan is so eager to see Syria’s President Bashar Assad overthrown that he left the Turkish-Syrian border open for four years so that recruits and supplies could reach the Syrian rebel groups, notably including Islamic State (IS).

Putin also observed: “We have long been recording the movement of a large amount of oil and petroleum products to Turkey from IS-occupied territories. This explains the significant funding the terrorists are receiving.”

Erdogan has two goals: to ensure the destruction of Assad’s regime, and to prevent the creation of a new Kurdish state in Syria. He was making some progress on both objectives — and then along came the Russians in September and saved the Syrian Army from defeat.

Worse yet, Putin’s strategy turns out to quite pragmatic, and even rather attractive to the U.S. despite all the ritual anti-Russian propaganda emitted by Washington. Putin wants a cease-fire in Syria that will leave everybody where they are now — except IS, which they can all then concentrate on destroying.

This strategy is now making some headway in the Vienna ceasefire talks, but it is utterly abhorrent to Erdogan because it would leave Assad in power in Damascus, and give the Syrian Kurds time to consolidate their new state. How can he derail this Russian-led project?

Well, he could shoot down a Russian plane, and try to get a confrontation going between Russia and NATO.

Full article: Erdogan aims to derail Russia-NATO alliance (The Japan Times)

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