Syria and Turkey F-4 Crisis in Perspective

As we sadly see, the Syrian shoot-down of a Turkish surveillance aircraft in Syrian airspace threatens to finally provide the casus belli for a NATO assault on Syria despite the fact that a UN Security Council resolution will not be forthcoming. Turkey, which by providing safe harbor and facilitating the transfer of weapons to those who are at war with the Syrian government has technically de facto declared a state of war against Syria, has nevertheless acted as the proverbial kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar: “it’s not my fault, mommy, and by the way you were not supposed to be in the kitchen anyway!” Or: “Yes we were on a spying mission in Syrian airspace, testing your air defenses in advance of a possible attack on your country, but still it was totally outrageous of you to respond in such an unneighborly fashion.”

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan finds himself increasingly unpopular at home for sticking his nose into the internal affairs of neighbors where he has no business being. Turkey’s official foreign policy has gone “from zero problems with neighbors, toward zero relations with neighbors,” mock the Turks unhappy with Erdogan and his foreign policy architect, Ahmet Davutoğlu. As all politicians tend to do when caught in a bad decision, Erdogan has decided to double-down on a bad bet, screaming “Article 5” at the top of his lungs.

When I find myself perplexed by the intricacies and maneuverings of the diplomats and politicians who seek either to rule over us or curry favor with those who do, I always turn to one analyst I admire greatly and who I have come to trust above nearly all others over the years, retired Indian diplomat, M K Bhadrakumar. Those not familiar with Ambassador Bhadrakumar’s brilliant insights would do well to quickly read as much as you can of his work. I must strongly assert that the good Ambassador has outdone himself with his incredible recent analysis of the Syria/Turkish F4 crisis. I would most strongly urge my friends to read his essay and reflect.

Even the Americans suspect that the Turk F-4 flight was provocation — a spy mission gone wrong rather than the unraveling story the Turks are trying to tell of a training mission rudely interrupted by the evil Syrians.

Reports the NYT above:

“While the American and allied officials emphasized that some intelligence reports flowing in since the downing last Friday were murky and often conflicting, they said a preliminary analysis of the available data suggested that there may have been more to the aircraft’s mission than just a routine training exercise to test Turkey’s air defenses.

“They pointed to several unanswered questions about the episode, including why, given the tensions between the two countries, Turkey was flying an unarmed reconnaissance plane so close to the Syrian border, where the aircraft was struck, and whether it had received any warnings to leave Syrian airspace.”

Nevertheless, the NYT goes on, for political reasons the US will not challenge the Turk version of F-4Gate:

“‘On a political level, NATO is taking the Turks at their word,’ said a senior United States official who has reviewed classified reports of the episode.”



7:59 pm on June 26, 2012