Remember this country, the place which about a year ago was supposed to be “Ukraine” in terms of geopolitical escalations:
Well, in the aftermath of what appears a tenuous detente over the Crimea while Putin plans his next step of how to “merge” with east Ukraine as he sets off to rebuild the USSR, Syria just may be set to regain its place at the top of the global geopolitical risk pyramid. Case in point, early this morning, the fragile ceasefire between Syria and Turkey was shatered after a Turkish F- 16 shot down a Syrian plane on Sunday after it crossed into Turkish air space in a border region where Syrian rebels have been battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
A photo of the falling plane was caught by twitter:
Anatolian Agency take the photos of Syrian jet down pic.twitter.com/xK59LUawvx
— Cüneyt Toros (@cuneyttoros) March 23, 2014
“A Syrian plane violated our airspace,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told an election rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey. “Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard,”
The rebels have been fighting for control of the Kasab crossing, the border region, since Friday, when they launched an offensive which Syrian authorities say was backed by Turkey’s military.
Syria said Turkish air defenses shot down the jet while it was attacking rebel forces inside Syrian territory, calling the move a “blatant aggression”.
State television quoted a military source as saying the pilot managed to eject from the plane. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said initial reports from the area said the plane came down on the Syrian side of the border.
Al Manar, the television station of Assad’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah, said two rockets had been fired from Turkish territory at the Syrian jet.
Amazingly, here is a clip of a live broadcast by HaberTurk which appears to have caught the moment of the plane’s crash live on video.
Why did Turkey really engage? Simple: to distract from PM Erdogan’s relentless political collapse when one after another political scandal is hitting the embattled premier who last week shut down access to Twitter, and it likely set to block YouTube as well, where a phone recording of his admitting graft and embezzlement can still be found. Naturally, it struck at the one country it knows will hardly fight back against the NATO member, although now that Russian foreign policy sentiment is once again shifting dramatically, and may call for far greater support for Syria, not to mention that suddenly Turkey is hardly in “democratic” Europe’s good graces in the aftermath of the Twitter censorship scandal, Erdogan may just have miscalculated.
As for the next steps in Turkey, we repeat what we said on Friday: “We eagerly look forward to see which particular pro-Western agent is groomed to take Erdogan’s place. After all remember: those Qatari gas pipelines that in a parallel universe, one without Putin, would have already been transporting nat gas under Syria, would enter Europe under Turkey.”
Surely following yet another “chess” victory by Putin in the foreign relations arena, the urgency to find that Qatari natgas outlet to Europe is that much greater…