Following the downing of the Russian bomber this morning I can only be grateful that the world’s major powers have a common enemy in ISIL
As regards the Turks under a putative Sunni demagogue Rycyp Erdogan I can only think with friends like these who needs enemies.
Turkey’s New Ottomanism foreign policy has been a disaster and perhaps should be alternately known as Neo Byzantinism in view of the double dealing and continued deception.in regards to Turkey’s relationship with extreme groups in Syria.
I personally witnessed the facilitation of the foreign jihadi fighters that make up the Katibas of Al Nursra, Al Sham and ISIL while working as a journalist in Antakya, as recruits from the Magreb Chechnya and Europe were granted free passage through South East Turkey into Aleppo and Idlib province across the border in Syria.
Not only were they allowed to come en masse to meet with recruiters, they were able to cross back and forth for Rest and Recreation and medical treatment in Antakya.
Meanwhile local traders did a roaring trade in non lethal military kit.
Others in the back street tea houses and coffee shops steered the way to illegal arms.
While princes and sheiks from Qatar rolled up in armoured Limos with entourages of imans and bodyguards to disburse millions of dollars to residents of Syrian refugee camps while espousing anti Assad Israeli and Shia rhetoric as their price.
One can only speculate if the dollars went on recruitment for the fight against Assad, but then again neither was there evidence that the conditions in the camps improved significantly either.
This was 2012 since which time the province around Antakya with its large Allawi and Arab population has been teetering on the brink of revolt .
The local Allawites or Allevis many with relatives across the border in Syria mostly support Assad and are not afraid to tell you so.
There were already pre existing tensions with local Turkish Sunni moslems who were brought in to the area by Attaturk before the second World War in order to make up the numbers of Ethnic Turks voting yes to annexation by Turkey.
The plebiscite was offered by France who then ruled over Greater Syria following the collapse of Ottoman rule after the first world war. It was 1939 and the French were eager to bring Turkey into the war against Nazi Germany.
Since July 2015 Turkey has supposedly been involved in operations against ISIL yet has been persistent in its criticism of Russian involvement
Understandably Turkey has been vociferous against Assad’s atrocities against Syrian civilians, but was muted when its alleged proxy ISIL has been deliberately and systematically conducting brutal genocide against Yazedis Shia’s and Christians .
It has condemned Russia’s bombing campaign and seen to be lukewarm in its pursuit of ISIL preferring to target Kurds who are directly fighting ISIL .
And now we have the most positionally suspect NATO member downing a Russian Jet with the death of its two pilots.
Most worryingly one of the pilots seems to have been killed by yet another of the Turks proxies anti Assad Turkmen paramilitaries.
The gruesome displaying of the pilot’s body in the usual display of triumphalism by these groups will not play well on the world stage least of all in Moscow.
If it transpires that the jet was brought down on the border or inside Syrian airspace it denudes Ankara of any fig leaf in relation to their real policy intentions of protecting their proxies rather than joining in a untied front against extremist militant groups fighting Assad.
The Russians muted response so far gives hope that they may realise they have to concede that the jet was in fact well into Turkish airspace. I
f that is the case Turkey can expect to find itself at the wrong end of Russian trade and foreign relations.
However if Russia deems its plane was well inside Syrian airspace then Turkey must face some sort existential military response from Russia.
If that is the case, Governments in the West and NATO would be well advised to steer clear of supporting Turkey in what is a situation all of its own making and against the wider policy aims of the West and its allies in the Middle East and the wider world.
Countries like France, UK and even the USA, will hopefully see that Russia is a more valued ally in the fight against a common enemy than a double dealing Turkey, self serving its own nefarious regional policies and interests.