Turks are known for a pugnacious, quickly roused nationalism; as a result, many observers have been predicting that Syria’s downing of a Turkish military jet yesterday could lead to greater Turkish pressure on Syria and even to military retaliation.But the news from Ankara this morning makes war less likely. Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul now says that the Turkish plane may indeed have violated Syrian airspace.This is very good news for the Syrian government, not only because it means it does not face imminent Turkish attack, but also because it shows just how unwilling Turkey is to get into a shooting match with its neighbor. It is a sign that foreign military intervention in the Syrian civil war is very unlikely.Good news for Assad is bad news for Washington; an angry Turkey pushing for NATO support in punishing Assad for the attack could have resolved Washington’s dilemmas by allowing it to “lead from behind” once again as Turks with help from Arabs overthrew a government Washington wants to see gone. Under that scenario the US would not have had to contemplate taking responsibility for policing Syria after Assad falls.Turkish calm means that Washington remains stuck in an untenable position: it has loudly and repeatedly called for Assad to step down, but has no real plan or intention to make sure that happens. Meanwhile, the longer the civil war drags on and the more bitter it becomes, the less chance there is for a peaceful, stable and democratic Syria to emerge from the chaos.Washington dithers, Turkey stays calm, Syria bleeds. This looks to be about where things stand now, and they could go on like this for some time.
Turkey Stays Calm After Syria Downs Jet