November 27, 2015
Russia quietly strikes Turkey on Multiple Fronts
By Mark Wachtler
November 27, 2015. Syria. (ONN) Turkey single-handedly moved the world one step closer to world war 3 earlier this week when its fighters shot down a Russian bomber over Syrian air space. We say over Syrian air space because the wreckage landed in Syria, not Turkey. In fact, now that the details are slowly coming out, it appears the attack was a premeditated ambush. Russia is now responding accordingly with military and economic attacks on Turkey and its proxies.
The two-mile wide corner of Turkey where Russian planes seemingly violated Turkish airspace for a few seconds. Image courtesy of the UK’s Mirror.
Turkey shoots down Russian bomber
Swinging the pendulum of world opinion to the side of the Russians, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has only stumbled over his own account of the incident, contradicting himself along the way. With Turkey being a NATO member, its unprovoked attack on a Russian bomber over Syria was a dangerous and irresponsible act. NATO’s own charter insists that an attack by one member is an attack by all members. And Russia didn’t hesitate to retaliate.
Based on all available reports from both sides, it appears Russian military planes in Syria have been routinely violating the air space of a two-mile-wide corner of southeast Turkey. The repeated act even caused Turkey to officially warn Russia only days before the shoot-down. Turkey’s President seemed to violate his own policy, established after a Turkish war plane was shot down after violating Syrian air space in 2012. President Erdogan complained at the time, “A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack.”
This time, Turkey waited just 17 seconds before Erdogan personally gave the order to shoot down the Russian SU-24 bomber. And as the UK’s Guardian concludes, ‘That the Turks shot down the jet and did so within 17 seconds – with the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying he gave the order to fire himself – suggests very strongly they were waiting for a Russian plane to come into or close enough to Turkish airspace with the aim of delivering a rather pyrotechnic message.’
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Other analysts point out that the Turks used the most advanced version of the American F-16 to shoot down a slow-moving, antiquated light bomber. Russia’s Vladimir Putin called the aggression a “crime” and “a stab in the back.” And Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called it, “a provocation and an ambush.” The same analysts remind us that both NATO and Russia violate each other’s air space on a daily basis in eastern Europe without any of the participants launching an attack on the other.
Russia hits back
The immediate danger for world peace right now is the fact that just in recent days, Russia has suffered three major attacks, all occurring outside of Russia’s borders. First, a Russian commercial plane flying over Egypt was blown up by an ISIS affiliate killing all 224 civilians on board. Then, the electricity transformers located on the Ukrainian side of the Ukraine-Crimean border was blown up, sending all of Russia’s newly-annexed Crimea into darkness, where it still stands today. And finally, just three days ago, NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian bomber over Syria.
In Russia, outrage against Turkey immediately rose to a boiling point. Within 24 hours of the shoot-down, the Turkish embassy in Russia was surrounded by angry Russians who blockaded the building and bombarded it with rocks. Within the same 24 hours, local Russian officials began seizing Turkish-owned businesses in Russia, confiscating their assets and deporting their owners back to Turkey.
Also in the first 24 hours, the Russian military bombed a Turkish aid convoy in the Turkey-Syria border town of Azzaz. Within 48 hours, the Russian forces fighting in Syria launched a series of deadly attacks on Turkish-Syrian rebels fighting the Assad regime and allied with Turkey and the United States. Russia then announced it would immediately install the advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile system along Turkey’s border. Finally, the Russian Navy announced that it was dispatching war ships to Syria’s coastline, only a couple miles from the Turkish border.
Proxy war goes first-person
For the past year, Syria has been a three-sided proxy war. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are helping Syria’s Assad government. The US, France and the UK are helping the Free Syrian Army and the Kurds. And Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been quietly assisting ISIS. Turkey’s involvement in Syria has, until now, been based on stopping the Syrian Kurds from sparking a revolt among Turkey’s suppressed Kurds as happened in both Syria and Iraq.
Last year, Turkey was condemned by the international community for helping ISIS take control a Syria-Turkey border crossing and for not aiding the Kurds as ISIS swept them out of the area. Instead, Turkey bombed the American armed and trained Kurds, allowing ISIS to take much of the border region away from the semi-autonomous Syrian Kurds.
With Turkey’s shooting down of the Russian bomber, the Syrian proxy war has just gone first-person. So far, Russia has limited its response to military attacks on Turkish-backed Syrian Turkmen fighting the Assad regime in Syria. Much of the Russian retribution has been economic, with Russia issuing a travel warning to all Russians planning on visiting Turkey. Russian travel agencies have also stopped selling vacations to Turkey. Russia is the second-largest tourism base for Turkey, accounting for 12 percent of Turkey’s entire tourism industry.
Tightening the energy noose on Turkey
Just as Russia holds the trump card over Ukraine, Germany and a host of other nations in the form of supplying the countries’ with the majority of their natural gas, Russia also supplies Turkey with a majority of its natural gas, as well as 30 percent of the oil Turkey uses each day. Financial markets around the world are already speculating about just how far Russia will go to punish Turkey for shooting down its bomber on Tuesday.
Russian officials have hinted that Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, being built by Russia, is being cancelled. They’re also suggesting that the all-important Russian natural gas pipeline that was going to pass through Turkey on its way to Europe will no longer be built. The pipeline was originally supposed to go through the Ukraine, until Russia entered the Ukrainian civil war on the side of the Russian separatists.
Turkey’s ill-conceived actions of shooting down a Russian bomber over Syria because it spent a few seconds over Turkish air space has thrust the world closer to world war 3. Rarely do Russia and NATO take military action against each other. But that’s exactly what happened three days ago. And if the rapid military build-up by both sides along the Syrian-Turkish border is any indication, it’s only the beginning.