Turkey’s ‘shoot down policy’ likely backed by NATO & US
RT:Turkey speaks of a violation of its airspace, something Russia denies. But even if the violation took place, we are talking about 17 seconds, is that reason enough to bring down the plane?
Annie Machon: Absolutely not. In fact only in 2012 the Turkish general command said of course that sometimes these very short violations can happen because the jets move so fast and the borders can be all over the place. Of course this can happen. This isn't an excuse to shoot down an ally’s jet.
And in fact Turkey as well ... has a record, I think over the last few years, of 114 incursions into Greek air space. They never get shot down. It is just a fact of life. You got fast jets. They are going to move around very quickly. And to take an order to shoot down a jet like that very quickly as well will be highly suspect.
RT:The Turkish President says they’d act in exactly the same way again if their airspace is violated. What impact do such statements have, given the tension between Moscow and Ankara?
AM: Indeed, it can only get worse I think. Now one has to wonder why Turkey took this action. And there has been speculation that the decision to have a shoot down policy [was] taken a few days ago by the Turkish Prime Minister.
Now they would not take that risk of destabilizing a highly inflammatory situation, politically anyway, unless they had the backing of their NATO ally. So one has to wonder what incentives perhaps Washington might have offered to Turkey to allow them to go ahead with this.
Now one possible theory would be if Turkey does this to a Russian plane then it must be tempting Russia to retaliate in some way. Once that happens, NATO, including the Americans, the UK and most of Europe, would have the pretext to take heavier action against Russia. So it is sort of like this proxy action between NATO and Russia. Now we all assume that Russia would not do anything drastic in the face of this unwarranted provocation.
RT: In 2012 Turkey's President said that such violations are no reason to shoot planes down. So why did Ankara act as it did? Is there something more behind the scenes?
AM: I would assume there is a lot more behind the scenes. One of the possibilities would be that the Russian intervention to take on not just ISIS but all the other extremist groups, terrorist groups in Syria is too effective. I mean they are capturing great swathes of land, they are giving great support for the Assad regime.
We know that America particularly still wants to topple the Assad regime, partly because of the strategic interest of its allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who want to impose a very radical Islamic State across that region. Once that were done, then Qatar could build a pipeline from its country through to Europe and try to take away some of the gas and energy trade that Russia currently has with Europe.
So geopolitically it is in America’s interest, as well as NATO’s, to try and halt and destabilize what Russia is very effectively doing against our global terrorist enemies such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda who are operating in Syria.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.