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Turkey Stays Calm After Syria Downs Jet

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.

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  • Susan

    Metaphorically speaking, forest fires cannot be prevented. They will occur no matter what is said or done or how many Smokey-the Bear PSA air on TV.

    Prevention of something is a false sense of control for those who have no control over the inevitable.

    There is no prevention of disease, death or war, there is only minimizing the severity of the event. I pray for God’s protection.

  • Kevin

    Sounds like the Turks might have been wary of Washington leaving them hung out to dry if they did ratchet up tensions.

  • Steven E

    I don’t think we can guess too much what the Turks are planning from the demeanor. A calm, sober approach works better for Turkey no matter what it decides to do. If Turkey comes forward Monday and announces the evidence demonstrates the jet was on the Turkish side, that they allowed for the other possibility gives them credibility.

    And if it was shot down when it was in Turkish territory, well, that’s an attack on a NATO member in the area designated by the North Atlantic Treaty.

  • RAZ

    Steven E m,akes the point that concerns me most. If Turkey says the F4 was not violating Syrian air space when it was shot down, then Syria has attacked Turkey, and Turkey can all on its NATO allies for support which, under the terms of the alliance must be provided. Syria would then ask for more tangible support from its allies, Russia and Iran. What happens then?????????

  • Mrs. Davis

    What would Turkey have to gain from a war with Syria? If Turkey conquered Syria what would they do with it? And really, who would want it? And it’s not as though Syria really attacked Turkey, though it may have technically. There may be some reprisal, but Turkey has nothing to gain from war and can enhance their rise to preeminence in the East by rising above violence in this case.

  • thibaud

    Send in Countess Lidia Ivanovna and Vlad the Avenger to rescue our brave co-religionists bleeding beneath the infidel yoke!

  • Ed Snyder

    Well, that didn’t last long, did it?

  • Peca

    This comment about penaut farming is very appropriate. Cater did a terrible job as president of the USA and is attempting to put his nose into places not only were it doesn’t belong, but also where he is attempting to grind his axe. Carter has an agenda. He recent book proves this point. His agenda is clearly anti-Israel and maybe even anti-Jewish.Your comment about some fella writing a blog is even more insulting than your unintelligent accusation. Jimmy let his alcoholic, beer drinking brother make a fool of him on the world stage and now Jimmy is doing it to himself, all by himself!I call on Jimmy Carter to return to his penaut plantation and stay there!LB welcome back.

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