Note kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia
The destruction of a Russian airplane, the crew of which seems to have been killed, by Turkish fighter jets constitutes an extremely serious incident, the consequences of which could be incalculable. The Turkish government’s attitude appears here deeply irresponsible and provocative. The fact that the Turkish government has asked for a meeting of NATO, as if it were the aggressed power, is another reason to worry.
- The destruction of a Russian fighter-bomber of the type SU-24 at the Syrian-Turkish border is an incident of utter gravity. The Turkish government states that the airplane had violated the borders of Turkey. Given the configuration of the terrain, it is indeed possible that the airplane may have flown over a small strip of Turkish territory. But this fly-over, if it did take place, would have been of a very short duration, around ten seconds at most. But the Turkish government claims that its fighter jets had warned the Russian plane about its so-called intrusion at least five minutes before opening fire (with a missile). This does not jibe with what can be know about the local situation. At the cruising speed of a SU-24 (about 15 km/min), this would imply that the plane would have penetrated 30 to 37 km inside Turkish territory. However, this is contradicted by the radar chart published by the Turkish authorities to bolster their claims.
Map provided by the Turkish government
But there is another possible explanation. It would imply, if this information is true, that Turkey is aiming at implementing a ‘flight exclusion zone” above Syria, without a mandate or a delegation from the United Nations. The Turkish airplanes would then have shot from an legally illegal position.
- The Russian government claims that the airplane never penetrated Turkish airspace. It is a fact that it crashed in Syrian territory. This implies, at minima, that it was flying towards Syria at the moment when it was hit by a missile (probably air-air shot from an F-16 of the Turkish air force). One cannot exclude, in view of the zone where the plane crashed, that it was hit while it was flying over Syrian territory. Should this be the case, we are facing a second illegality committed by Turkey.
- The Turkish airforce is known to have been violating regularly for years the Greek airspace, as well as the one of Cyprus. One can therefore wonder at this sudden sensitivity of Turkey to the defence of its borders, when it displays such insouciance when it comes the borders of others. To the illegality of this action is then added the arrogance of a power who sees itself, in this border area, as in conquered territory.
- Beyond this situation, the attitude of the Turkish government concerning the Syrian crisis and DAESH raises many questions:
- The Turkish government, under the pretext of intervening against the Islamist forces is in reality bombing Kurdish combatants who, as far as they are concerned, are indeed fighting against DAESH. We have had other examples of this hypocritical attitude during the siege of Kobané.
- The Turkish government tolerates, to say the least, the oil smuggling which is one of the sources of financing of DAESH. It is known also that if the Turkish government closed its borders with Syria, DAESH would be rapidly throttled financially . We also know that the Russian (and American) airplanes were systematically attacking this traffic by bombing columns of DAESH trucks transporting oil to the Turkish border.
- Independent journalists investigating about possible collusions between the Turkish state apparatus and DAESH, particularly about weapon deliveries, have been imprisoned or killed.
- As for the refugee crisis which Europe is experiencing since the summer of 2015, it appears to be strongly linked to the will of the Turkish government to put pressure onto the European Union. It had actually received a form of recognition for the sweep of its action in the management of this crisis.
- Under these conditions, when Vladimir Putin is talking of a « stabbing in the back, » he is entirely right . This stab in the back is not only aimed at Russia but at all the international forces which are fighting against DAESH. But if Turkey was able to indulge in this backstabbing, it is also because it is a member-country of NATO and because it knows that Russia will not exert military reprisals against it. So that one must wonder about the political game being played by Turkey as well as the United States, who after all are both supposedly fighting against DAESH. We are waiting with interest to see what the American reactions to this incident will be, and if the United States will exert the necessary pressures to bring back the Erdogan government to better intentions.
- Yet, economic relations between Russia and Turkey are narrow, beginning with the gas pipe-line linking Russia with Turkey through the Black Sea, to the many Turkish companies working in Russia, to the many Russian tourists who spend their holidays in Turkey. So that one can only wonder about the attitude of the Turkish government. Is it estimating that, protected by NATO but also by its many economic links with Russia it can do anything it pleases? Are we witnessing a struggle among clans in the Turkish high bourgeoisie, and is the clan supporting Erdogan settling accounts in this way with other factions which might be linked to trade with Russia? Finally has Erdogan, whose political position remains fragile despite his victory at the recent elections, decided to play the nationalist card in waking up the old hostility between Russia and Turkey?
- One lesson is coming out of these events. More than ever, the French government must take its distances both with Turkey but also with the military organization of NATO, which we see today could be used as a screen by an irresponsible government.