At 9.30am on Tuesday 24 November, Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter, allegedly after it had veered into Turkish air space for 17 seconds.
Responding to this grave provocation, President Putin warned that the “tragic accident” would entail “serious consequences” for Turkey. Accusing Turkey of providing financial and military support to the jihadi terrorists, Mr Putin said: “Today’s loss is a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorism,” adding: “Do they want to put Nato at Isis’s service?”
US President Barack Obama defended the Turkish action, saying that Turkey has the right to defend its territory [although it is worth noting that the very same Obama does not subscribe to the same view in regard to Syria’s right to defend its territory] and air space, while hypocritically calling on both sides to de-escalate. He went on to say that the US was prepared to work more closely with Russia if it made a “strategic shift” and focused its efforts on Islamic State (IS), adding: “We may differ with Russian policy elsewhere, but we should be able to agree that we are all working to defeat Isis.”
Apart from the fact that the US is not serious about confronting IS, what the US continues to strive for is regime change in Syria and, to that end, it needs Russia to make a ‘strategic shift’ and stop its fight against all the various bands of terrorists operating in the country.
At a special meeting of the Atlantic Council, Nato expressed its solidarity with Turkey. Outrageously, Mark Toner, a US state department spokesman, went so far as to say that the Turkmen terrorists who shot dead Russian pilot Lt Col Oleg Peshkov as he parachuted to the ground – in complete violation of the Geneva Convention, which outlaws such actions – could have been acting in self defence.
While Turkey alleges that it shot down the Russian Sukhoi SU-24 after giving it 10 warnings to leave a Turkish-imposed exclusion zone that runs 15 miles into Syria (although no-one has yet explained what right Turkey has to impose such a zone), Constantin Murakhtin, the surviving pilot, has refuted this narrative, saying that (a) he was at all times flying over Syrian air space, and (b) there were no warnings whatsoever. Even if the Turkish assertion were to be correct, which seems unlikely, there would be no reason to shoot down the Russian plane.
What has happened is a deliberate provocation, primarily, it would seem, for the purpose of sabotaging the emerging cooperation between Russia and France in the fight against terrorism. The US and Turkey have been rattled by this development, for such cooperation and a successful fight against IS, would put a cross on the US drive to overthrow the Syrian government headed by Bashar al-Assad and thereby deal a hefty blow to US hegemony in the Middle East.
It seems to us highly unlikely that the Turkish state would have dared take such a serious action without prior consultation with the US regime. One possible reason that the Turkish government was willing to cooperate in this criminal provocation is that the Russian intervention in Syria has frustrated Turkish ambitions to influence developments in Syria through its Turkmen terrorist surrogates.
Russian fighter planes have been hitting these terrorists, as well as attacking (with devastating effect) the IS-operated oil-tanker trucks that provide finance for terrorism in Syria and lucrative business for Erdogan’s cronies in Turkey, including his son, Bilal.
The Turkish provocation took place just before President Hollande held meetings with Obama and Putin that were aimed at securing cooperation between the West and Russia. The UN Security Council had passed a French-sponsored resolution authorising “all necessary measures” to be used against IS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Syria – effectively endorsing the Russian intervention.
These developments could not fail to alarm US imperialism, and its desperation may well have been the ultimate motivation behind the Turkish provocation.
But all the signs are that the provocation will not succeed. Russian fighter planes have destroyed 500 of the 1,000 oil-tanker trucks operated by IS during the last week, thus undermining the terrorists’ ability to finance their operations. The Russians, in coordination with Syria’s government, have also intensified their attacks on Turkish-backed terrorists in the region of Syria that borders on Turkey.
Furthermore, in the aftermath of the downing of its plane, Russia has announced that it will be deploying its most sophisticated defence missile, the s-400, in Syria to beef up security and send a message to Turkey that any Turkish fighter plane attempting a repeat of the 24 November criminal provocation may well be blown out of the sky.
Besides this, Turkey will now be made to suffer economically through the loss of Russian investment and tourism, with many planned projects either cancelled or put on hold, and a range of further sanctions being considered.
With Nato, led by the USA, declaring its full support for Turkey’s provocative act, the people of the world are being given daily more graphic evidence of the fact that imperialist aggression, unless checked, is dragging us ever closer to a catastrophic World War III.