14:18 GMT +323 March 2018
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    Supporters of Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) wave a giant Turkish flag as they celebrate in Istanbul after the first results in the country's general election on November 1, 2015.

    Turkey 'Led Like a Puppet on a String' in Taking Anti-Russian Position

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    Russian Su-24 Jet Downed Over Syria (276)

    Commenting on the political, economic and military-strategic consequences of last week's attack on a Russian jet over Syria, Turkish experts speaking to Sputnik suggested that unfortunately, Ankara has allowed itself to be led like a puppet on a string by Washington and Brussels, who sit back and watch as the Turkish-Russian crisis unfolds.

    Amid the ongoing deterioration of relations between Moscow and Ankara, with the Russian government signing a decree Tuesday on the introduction of economic sanctions against Turkey, Sputnik Turkey asked several political and military experts to comment on the downing of the Russian plane, and the ultimate consequences of President Erdogan's actions.

    Koray Gurbuz, a military expert from the Bilkent University and the former Chairman of the Turkish Veterans Council affiliated with the Kemalist opposition Republican People's Party, emphasized that not only did Russia have every right to participate in the global war against Daesh (ISIL) – it was factually only country in Europe to do so in a legitimate and steadfast manner.

    "The presence of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces in Syria is a natural phenomenon," Gurbuz told Sputnik. "If the Americans, the French [and others] had begun to bomb Daesh, it was obvious that sooner or later Russia would start its own campaign of airstrikes against the terrorists. Furthermore, the Russian forces, unlike their Western counterparts, are in Syria on the invitation of that country's legitimate government. [President Bashar] Assad is the internationally recognized leader of Syria, recognized by the United Nations."

    The military expert noted that "while Russia had acted within the framework of international law, helping to defend Syria's legitimate government, the West had long engaged in the illegal supply of weapons to terrorists. In all of its actions in the framework of the Syrian crisis, the West has demonstrated its unwillingness to establish peace and order in the Syrian Arab Republic."

    Unfortunately, Gurbuz emphasized, "instead of strengthening good neighborly relations with Moscow, Ankara was led along by the West, factually becoming its puppet. This is not in our country's interests. One cannot lead one's country to a precipice, guided only by one's own ambitions, all the while making unfriendly statements toward a country toward which your own people are inclined to be friends."

    "Today," the expert noted, "the crisis of relations between our countries has led, first and foremost, to our own suffering. The US and the EU, meanwhile, can only look on and admire this picture."

    Nazmi Gur, MP and the Deputy Chairman of the Pro-Kurdish Peace & Democracy Party, concurred with Gurbuz, noting that "by destroying the Su-24, Turkey dealt Moscow a heavy blow. It would be naïve to believe after this that relations between Moscow and Ankara would be unaffected. Today, unfortunately, we must expect a marked decline in our bilateral trade, economic, political, military, diplomatic and other relations. This does not benefit anyone." 

    The politician specified that in "targeting the Russian aircraft, Turkey struck at regional security. Now, our region is seriously threatened by the prospect of a regional war. I sincerely hope that Ankara understands what it has done. The security situation in the region has deteriorated significantly, and this has affected us, the Kurds."

    Gur emphasized that "in Syria, Turkey is conducting an extremely destructive policy. It supports Islamic radicals – Salafist groups which cooperate closely with Daesh (ISIL). Factually, Turkey is protecting Daesh terrorists. It is thanks to Ankara that Daesh has a secure channel for the continuous supply of arms and material assistance."

    For his part, Dr. Hasret Comak, the Head of the Center for Strategic & International Studies at Istanbul's University of Harel, emphasized that the shoot down of the Russian plane was completely impulsive and irresponsible on Turkey's part.

    "The Russian plane's violation of Turkish airspace, if the Turkish General Staff are to be believed, lasted only a few seconds. In today's difficult environment, instead of immediately shooting it down, [the Turkish Air Force] should have responded in some other way –at the very least by offering an ultimatum. After all, the Russian plane had not committed an act of aggression against the territory and sovereignty of our country."

    Recalling the numerous occasions on which Turkey violated Greek airspace in the Aegean, Comak noted that "despite this, no one shot our planes down with a missile. We have violated [Greek] territorial waters, but our ships have not been sunk."

    Ultimately, Comak emphasized that "Turkish-Russians relations have historical depth, and we must not forget this. Moreover, at present, over 50% of our natural gas comes from Russia and Iran. The Blue Stream pipeline is in operation, while the Nabucco project failed. We are strongly dependent on Russia in terms of energy, something which everyone in the country recognizes." According to the analyst, "a further escalation of the crisis will only result in the suffering of the Turkish people."

    Russian Su-24 Jet Downed Over Syria (276)
    Middle East, bilateral relations, analysis, Su-24, Turkey, Russia
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