‘Turkey attempts to save face after downing Russian jet’

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan © Christian Hartmann
NATO wants Turkey to de-escalate the situation with Russia while Ankara is desperate to get out of this with the best face possible, says political analyst Ammar Waqqaf.

RT: NATO is calling for de-escalation but at the same time fully backs Turkey's actions. Don't you think this is sending a contradictory message to Russia?

Ammar Waqqaf: I think it is not in the interest of NATO to have an escalation of the tension with Russia. I think it is in Turkey’s interest. We have reached a conclusion – probably Turkey did this without a wider consultation with NATO in order to force some sort of an escalation so as to get the NATO’s backing in order to achieve certain interests. So, it is in NATO interests, if we think of France who is trying desperately to collaborate with Russia and whoever there is to collaborate with in order to prevent imminent future terrorist attacks against its territory. And the likes of Britain, for example, who are trying desperately to convince their own parliament in order to vote for an intervention in Syria, and they certainly don’t need such a distraction. Then probably NATO would want Turkey to de-escalate the situation with Russia definitely. And I don’t think Turkey has been calculating this very well since the very beginning.  

RT: Do you think this contradictory message will encourage Turkey to do similar things again in the similar circumstances in the future?

AW: I think they are desperate now to get out of this with the best face possible. At the end of the day Russia has taken a lot of advantage, so to speak, of Turkey in NATO’s terms. They allowed Russia to take a lot of advantage: they’ve strengthened their air defense; they are now bombing areas that were supposedly being marked as ‘safe’ by the Turks. And we need to remember that Turkey’s main interest in escalating with Russia is to force the issue of safe zones onto the negotiation table, so, a bit of act of desperation really by Turkey. And so, Russia now is clearly bombing assets, trucks that are believed to be carrying weaponry into Syria. They are doing whatever they want to do in that sort of area. So, it has backfired on the Turks. I don’t think they would be able to do it again, especially with the Russian air defense. We’ve heard the news today that Russian Su-34s have been equipped with air-to-air missiles – they have that capability. And it seems that Russia is telling Turkey “If you want to do it again, then do it at your peril.”


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.