Flight Paths Over Turkey Analyzed; Obama Defends Turkey; Choose Your Friends and Enemies Wisely; Merkel Madness
In the wake of Turkey shooting down a Russian aircraft over Syria, the immediate impact will be to make negotiations on the removal of Assad all the more difficult. First let's analyze the flight path of the downed aircraft courtesy of Stratfor.
Map of Flight Path of Downed Russian Aircraft
Deadly Few Seconds
The short distances involved and the speed at which fighter jets fly does support the view made by a US official: "They were in Turkish airspace only 2 to 3 seconds."
Obama Defends Turkey
Voice of America reports Turkey Has Right to Defend Its Territory, Airspace.
President Barack Obama said the downing of a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian-Turkish border Tuesday is evidence of an "ongoing problem" with Russia's military operations in Syria, and that Turkey had a "right to defend its territory and its airspace."
Speaking during a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande, Obama said information about Turkey's downing of the Russian Su-24 was still being collected, but noted that Russian military aircraft are targeting moderate Syrian opposition groups very close to Turkey's borders.
A U.S. military spokesman confirmed that Turkish pilots issued repeated warnings to the Russian plane and didn't get a response. However, the spokesman said it was not immediately clear on which side of the border the Russian jet was flying. Moscow insists the jet never left Syrian airspace.
Moderate Al Qaeda Yet Again
There's Obama once again with more bullsheet about "moderate" Al Qaeda rebels. Nonetheless, it does appear Russia violated Turkey's airspace.
Everyone is supposed to be on the same side here, but it's all a lie. Turkey buys oil from ISIS and that provides the funds for ISIS to buy weapons and maintain fighting.
Both Turkey and the US would rather see Syrian president Assad fall than take out ISIS.
I side with Putin who stated "This event goes beyond the framework of the regular fight against terrorism. today's loss is connected to a stab in the back by accomplices of the terrorists."
Putin noted "a large amount of oil and oil products" entering Turkey from ISIS-held territory in Syria, provides the terrorist group with a "large money supply."
Turkey the "Accomplices of the Terrorists"
The Guardian analyzes Putin's viewpoint in Is Vladimir Putin right to label Turkey 'accomplices of terrorists'?
The relationship hinted at by Russian leader after warplane was shot down is a complex one, and includes links between senior Isis figures and Turkish officials.
Turkish borders have been the primary thoroughfare for fighters of all kinds to enter Syria. Its military bases have been used to distribute weapons and to train rebel fighters. And its frontier towns and villages have taken in almost one million refugees.
Turkey's international airports have also been busy. Many, if not most, of the estimated 15,000-20,000 foreign fighters to have joined Islamic State (Isis) have first flown into Istanbul or Adana, or arrived by ferry along its Mediterranean coast.
The influx has offered fertile ground to allies of Assad who, well before a Turkish jet shot down a Russian fighter on Tuesday, had enabled, or even supported Isis. Vladimir Putin's reference to Turkey as "accomplices of terrorists" is likely to resonate even among some of Ankara's backers.
Turkish businessmen struck lucrative deals with Isis oil smugglers, adding at least $10m (£6.6m) per week to the terror group's coffers, and replacing the Syrian regime as its main client. Over the past two years several senior Isis members have told the Guardian that Turkey preferred to stay out of their way and rarely tackled them directly.
Concerns continued to grow in intelligence circles that the links eclipsed the mantra that "my enemy's enemy is my friend" and could no longer be explained away as an alliance of convenience. Those fears grew in May this year after a US special forces raid in eastern Syria, which killed the Isis official responsible for the oil trade, Abu Sayyaf.
A trawl through Sayyaf's compound uncovered hard drives that detailed connections between senior Isis figures and some Turkish officials. Missives were sent to Washington and London warning that the discovery had "urgent policy implications".
"Turkey thought they could control it all," said one senior western official. "But it got out of their hands. It has come back to bite them in the heart of Ankara [a double suicide bombing in October that was claimed by Isis] and it will haunt them for a long time."
Turkey is guilty as charged. And yet, Angela Merkel wants to strike a deal with Turkey that would allow 75 million Turkish access to the Schengen border-free area from as soon as 2016.
Simply put, Angela Merkel is crazy.
What to Expect Next
Stratfor discusses the implications of this madness in What to Expect After the Downing of a Russian Fighter Jet.
Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet in Syria has raised the stakes in an already crowded and complicated conflict. The Nov. 24 incident will also likely undermine efforts to find a solution to the country's protracted civil war.
The destruction of a Russian search-and-rescue helicopter sent to find the downed jet's crew will only aggravate the situation more. Rebels brought down the helicopter with small arms fire, killing one Russian marine, and then destroyed it with a TOW anti-tank guided missile -- a weapon built and supplied by the United States. Even though the rest of the crew survived the attack, Russia will not be pleased that another outside party's weapons are being used against it in the fight.
Peace Moves Further Out of Reach
The incident with the fighter jet will no doubt raise the risk of clashes occurring in the airspace over Syria. The United States had made considerable progress in deconflicting Syrian airspace by signing a memorandum of understanding with Russia that laid out procedures to prevent problems from arising as each side carried out airstrikes. But with the Russians angry at the Turks, and the Turks operating in close concert with the Americans -- especially in the planned anti-Islamic State operation over northern Aleppo -- the United States and its coalition partners may find themselves drawn into the spat between Ankara and Moscow.
The dispute will also undermine ongoing attempts to find a solution to the Syrian civil war, especially since Turkey is an important foreign patron of many of the rebel groups that were expected to have a seat at the negotiating table. With video circulating of Turkmen fighters from these units shooting at the Russian pilots, Moscow probably will no longer accept their participation in the talks. Since some of these groups also belong to the Free Syrian Army and are part of Syria's more moderate opposition, this will make it much more difficult to reach a roster of representatives that all sides can agree on before heading into negotiations. And as long as talks on a power-sharing agreement in Syria remain elusive, the foreign sponsors of the Syrian civil war will be dealing with an increasingly complex battlefield.
Choose Your Friends and Enemies Wisely
Broadly speaking, this mess is precisely what one should expect under the idiotic doctrine "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
When everyone is everyone else's enemy, everyone becomes everyone else's friend under the practiced doctrine.
Under such a doctrine, we are now friends with Al Qaeda terrorists even though we blew up Iraq on the mistaken premise Saddam Hussein was harboring them.
Al Qaeda is now in our friends group because they seek to overthrow Assad. But ISIS also wants to overthrow Assad.
US response in the region shows the US is more intent on taking out Assad, than taking out ISIS, even though Assad is no threat to anyone except those seeking to overthrow him.
In turn, this proves the US can pick neither its friends nor its enemies wisely! But look on the bright side: It's good for those who seek perpetual war.
For more on the sheer ridiculousness of US policy, please see New Cold War; Circular Absurdity.