Did Turkey try to provoke a war on Syria? But why? Or else, why not?
Many people in and outside Turkey ask these questions nowadays.
Now let's play Sherlock Holmes (in a military camouflage) to inspect the clues:
UNCONTESTED DATA (FACT): On June 22, a Turkish military jet was shot down by the Syrian air defences and crashed into the sea. Two pilots are still missing.
OFFICIAL TURKISH ACCOUNT: Ankara argues that the aircraft was hit by a Syrian missile without warning in international airspace (13 miles).
OFFICIAL SYRIAN ACCOUNT: Damascus claims that the jet was hit by an anticraft gun over Syrian territorial waters (1.5 miles).
(Click for the source of the map. Courtesy of BBC)
The nature of the weapon is important here, because;
1) if it is an anticraft gun, then it will prove that the Turkish officials apparently lied as the maximum range of this weapon is not enough to shoot down an aircraft 13 miles away from the shore;
2) if it is a missile, then it will prove that the Syrian officials lied when saying that they didn't know it was a Turkish aircraft, as such a missile can only be fired after high-level officials authorized its use (obviously, after identifying the hostile aircraft).
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On Twitter, I had voiced my doubts right after listening to Turkey's official statement. Then some experts raised similar questions and even NATO circles started to grouse about.
Finally, the international media followed the suit, demanding more proof from Ankara about the aircraft's real mission, its flight path, and where and how it was downed.
And today, the Wall Street Journal reported that "U.S. intelligence, contradicting Ankara, indicates aircraft was shot down by Syria in its own airspace" with an antiaircraft gun. Some current and former American officials believe Ankara has been testing Syrian defenses, the report continues.
But why should Ankara lie to escalate to situation to a degree that it mobilizes its military forces on the border and reinforce its air defence system?
Just to appease the Gulf states, which seemed like the only party that would be happy to trigger an all-out war against Syria?
It is true that there are several people provoking Ankara to wage war and some Gulf circles, an important financier for the Turkish economy, may even be blackmailing some Turkish officials now, but is this pressure hard enough for the Erdogan government to take such a huge risk?
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A possible war seems really bad for Turkey overall, but wouldn't it also bring some advantages for the government, other than appeasing the Gulf states?
A foreign military intevention in Syria will probably not only turn into a regional war, as NATO presumes, but push Turkey into more anti-democratization and oppression because of the war-time measures.
Anyone who noticed how Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reserved a large chunk of his speech about Syria on criticizing the journalists who didn't swallow the official line can get it. "Traitors" and "sold-out pens" were the newest insults for journalists by Erdogan.
According to the latest resolution of the International Press Institute, Turkey is one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists with about 100 journalists remain in prison.
If Erdogan declares war on Syria, I'm sure I'll either be among thousands of more journalists crammed in prisons or be called up by the army once again... to fight against Syrians this time... (During my mandatory military service, I was a logistics sergeant near the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus).
Luckily, I know how to shoot a gun AND I don't have a pilot license.
P.S.: I waited for more than than a week to write about this subject, because my main concern here was not the international power play, but the well-being of the pilots. Their fate is not likely to be clarified soon, it seems. So, I've finally written this post. I sincerely hope that they will come back alive. Their families are the ones who most deserve the truth. I hope that Turkey's President Abdullah Gul can be objective enough to open an investigation about the downed jet. An investigation by the UN may also be of good use for those who seek nothing but the naked truth.
Take a look at Homes in Turkey website.