Turkey Complicates Syrian Crisis by Downing Russian Jet
by Navpreet Sekhon on Friday, December 11th, 2015
On November 24, the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter plane which had crossed Turkish borders. According to the Los Angeles Times, President Obama defended Turkey’s right to protect “its territory and its airspace.”
Russia reports that the plane flew less than a kilometer over Turkish borders while traveling to Syria to fight ISIS. The matter is particularly noteworthy because Russia wants a different outcome in Syria compared to Turkey and the United States. The Washington Post reports Russian President Vladmir Putin wants Bashar al-Assad to continue serving as President of Syria because of their alliance, whereas Turkey has called for his resignation.
Obama “[discouraged] any escalation” from both Turkish and Russian allies because he claimed all countries involved were fighting for the same cause, according to The Washington Post. Russia didn’t pose a threat to Turkey by being less than a kilometer in its borders, and the Turkish military exacerbated the situation by shooting the two pilots who parachuted out the plane. Russia is now targeting Northern Syrian relief centers and aggressively attacking Syrian rebel groups that Turkey supplies aid to, McClatchy DC reports.
While the incident was legally justified, the results are not helping the ultimate goal of taking down ISIS. As long as the governments get to maintain a civil relationship into the future, Assad’s fate can be disputed later as. Obama sided with his ally, but the overall event was not in anyone’s best interest. In fact, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that currently supports attacks against ISIS, must investigate the incident rather than focus on attacking ISIS.
According to the LA Times, Obama requested a “political solution to the war.” Putin, however, has made it clear he will not cooperate. He stated that Turkey will face “serious consequences.”
Obama faces the challenge of publicly supporting Turkey — even though the incident allows ISIS to capitalize on the tensions — or to openly admit Turkey must make peace with Russia in order to further the fight against ISIS. Turkey’s mistake will not destroy the U.S.-Turkey alliance, but it may cause uncomfortable tensions.
An anonymous U.N. representative told McClatchy DC that Russia has “gone ballistic.” Russia began bombing innocent Syrian centers, cutting off supplies. The incident signifies more than just border patrol, but Russia must understand Turkey is in an extremely dangerous warzone. Since Russia didn’t respond to the Turkish military’s warnings, the military justly shot down the plane. Putin needs to make decisions that will lead to the best end result, not decisions out of revenge.
According to the LA Times, Obama’s top priority now is to continue the fight against ISIS, and he thinks Russia should focus on the same so that less conflicts arise from cooperating countries. Even French President Francois Hollande agreed Russia should join the U.S. allegiance in order to end Syria’s civil war as soon as possible. Hollande plans to meet with Putin to discuss Russia’s stance on joining the European-American allegiance.
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