Turkey plays with fire

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

ANGRY protesters hurled stones and eggs at the Turkish embassy in Moscow on Wednesday following the downing of a Russian jet by a Turkish warplane over Syria. The Turks claim the Russian fighter-bomber had strayed into their territory but the Kremlin says their plane was operating against terrorists inside Syria. Vladimir Putin has accused the Turks of a “stab in the back”, branding them “accomplices of terrorists” and warning that “serious consequences” will follow.

Russian tourists are being urged to boycott Turkey. Russia has broken off all military contact with Turkey and despatched a warship with an air defence system to the eastern Mediterranean with orders to destroy “any targets representing a potential danger” to Russian forces in Syria. The Russian Air Force base in Syria will be reinforced with an S-400 surface-to-air missile system and in future all Russian bombers carrying out airstrikes in Syria will now be covered by jet fighters.

In the Duma (Russian parliament) some deputies have now submitted a bill to allow the prosecution of anyone who denies Turkey’s Armenian genocide during the First World War; others are calling for a complete break in diplomatic relations. But this is being opposed by Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov.

“A number of MPs supported the suspension of the diplomatic relations between Russia and Turkey,” Zyuganov said. “But this is their personal opinion. I do not see any reason to break off these diplomatic relations” he told the media.

The United States and its European Nato allies have all closed ranks around Turkey. While calling for calm, all the imperialist leaders are accepting the ludicrous Turkish version of the clash including the repeated “warnings” the Turks claim they gave to the Russian plane before it was brought down.

But the Russian Defence Ministry has now released a video showing the course of the Russian warplane, which was shot down by Turkey on Tuesday, that confirmed that the plane did not enter Turkish airspace.

The two-man crew of the downed Sukhoi-24 bailed out over Syrian territory infested by Turkmen minority gunmen allied to ISIS, and covertly armed and funded by Islamist government in Turkey.

One of the two Russian air-crew was rescued by Syrian commandos. The other was killed by the terrorists as he parachuted down while a Russian marine, who was part of a joint Russian—Syrian rescue team, died in a gun-battle with the terrorists.

“We have serious doubts that this act was unintentional. It looks very much like a pre-planned provocation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing Turkey’s failure to maintain proper communication with Russia, the abundance of footage of the incident and other evidence. He added that many of Russian partners had called the incident “an obvious ambush”.

Lavrov pointed out that the Turkish provocation was soon after a series of devastating Russian airstrikes on terrorist oil convoys and facilities. This, he said, “sheds new light” on the incident.

Lavrov said that terrorists are using Turkish territory to launch attacks in Syria and that consequently Russia will revise its relations with Turkey following the downing of the Russian warplane.

He explained that the area where the plane was shot down contains bases, weapons and ammunition dumps for terrorists, and that the downing of the warplane is linked to the Russian airstrikes on oil refineries and storage facilities used by ISIS.

Lavrov said that Turkey claimed that the Russian plane had entered the Turkish airspace for 17 seconds, adding that prior to the commencement of the Russian aerial operations in Syria there had been direct contact between Russian and Turkish defence centres. But the coordination between the two centres has never been put to use, not even during Tuesday’s incident, which raises many questions.

This was a provocation that could have been a planned act, despite the Turkish claims to the contrary.

He noted that Nato neither apologised nor expressed any regret over the downing of the Russian warplane, which makes it seem as if it’s trying to cover up the incident, adding that the European Union’s reaction was similar. ;