We know who started the crisis, but who will finish it?

When Russia began putting its weight behind the flanks of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flanks in the Syrian civil war, the Assad leadership began regaining some of the positions it had lost. It no longer appears even a possibility that the Assad regime will be toppled by the opposition groups — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) included — that are fighting against it. And this is because the primary aim of the international coalition led by the US is to wipe out radical groups like ISIL and al-Nusra that are wandering the Syrian lands.

In the meantime, Turkey, which still sees the toppling of the Assad regime as a priority, can find no supporters for its aims among the coalition partners. Not only that, but Ankara now faces assertions on many fronts that it carries heavy responsibility for the unhampered growth and development of these groups.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin stated at the G-20 summit that “there are some G-20 members who support ISIL,” it raised eyebrows. Now, in the wake of the downing of the Russian war plane, he is openly accusing Turkey.

It should be pointed out however, that every country not only has the right but also the responsibility to defend its borders. But bringing down another country’s jet — when there is no evidence of an enemy move against it, or an attack against it — is not the step that should be taken.

Which is why we can conclude that bringing down the Russian plane was not a wise move, and not a move whose real results had been calculated.

In the meantime, the first statements from the palace in Ankara after the plane came down, noting, “We brought the Russian jet down,” reflected a great level of irresponsibility. From a diplomatic angle, it was a statement that pushed Turkey into a very bad corner. In the end, these kinds of statements might work well for the palace on the home front, and might fill some people with elation, but we can’t forget the hard truth here, which is that war is not a game. At times like these, we must act wisely, seriously and responsibly.

After the plane came down, a series of statements aimed at straightening the situation out were heard from the Turkish military’s General Staff headquarters. Some were along the lines of “We were not aware of the plane’s identity; we did first give many warnings; we are prepared to cooperate with Russia.” There is little question that blaming the General Staff headquarters for these developments is not right. In the end, they were only following orders. But what is clear now is that our General Staff is able to better see and understand the true results of this crisis than the palace in Ankara or our prime minister is.

Putin has already stated that this incident will have “serious” consequences. In the military, political, economic and diplomatic arenas, Russia is a global power. And Putin is a strong and authoritarian leader, whose words need to be taken seriously.

Russia is not going to openly declare war on Turkey, though it seems certain that what we’ll see now is an undeclared state of war against us. We will witness the most open results of this in Syria. In fact, from here onwards, Turkey’s ability to move around freely within Syrian borders is sure to be limited.

It is doubtful that Russia will cut off natural gas supplies to Turkey, mostly because of Moscow’s own obligations, which weigh heavily on it. What is clear though is that tourism, which is of course vital to Turkey’s income, will be damaged. Russian officials have already warned Russian citizens not to visit Turkey on their holidays.

On another note, when it comes to recognizing the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as a terror group, it appears Turkey is set to become ever more isolated. No one should be surprised if the PYD, which is actually fighting the most effective struggle on the ground in Syria against ISIL, picks up open support from the US and Russia.

No, Russia is not going to declare war on Turkey. But it will do everything in its power to inflict damage on Turkish arenas of interest.

The level of tension needs to be reduced urgently. Who can we expect to do this though? Can we really look to either President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Putin — both men who are famed in their own countries for their authoritarian styles of leadership — to take on this critical job?


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ألباكيركي، نيو مكسيكو، 18 تشرين الأول/أكتوبر، 2017 / بي آر نيوزواير / — أهلا بكم