A new angle on the Turkish-Russian dispute

I’ve been wondering whether there aren’t hidden reasons behind Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian strike aircraft earlier this week.  The Russian plane was bombing Turkmen rebel positions just inside Syria – and the Turkmen have traditionally been supported by Turkey.

Now comes this news.

In May, the Cumhuriyet paper published what it said were images of Turkish trucks carrying ammunition to Syrian militants.

The images reportedly date back to January 2014, when local authorities searched Syria-bound trucks, touching off a standoff with Turkish intelligence officials. Cumhuriyet said the images were proof that Turkey was smuggling arms to rebels in Syria.

The government had initially denied the trucks were carrying arms, maintaining that the cargo consisted of humanitarian aid. Some officials later suggested the trucks were carrying arms or ammunition destined to Turkmen kinsmen in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested the same recently saying: “what difference would it make if they were carrying arms?”

. . .

Prosecutors launched an investigation into the journalists after Erdogan threatened legal action against Dundar for publishing the images and said he would not let the issue go.

His comments prompted the media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists to call on Erdogan to stop “bullying journalists … just because he doesn’t like what they report.”

There’s more at the link.  The journalists have just been jailed because of their report.

If Turkey was supporting the Turkmen in Syria with arms shipments, and Russia was bombing those same Turkmen – and/or trying to interdict those arms shipments – it would provide an entirely new perspective on why the Russian jet was shot down, wouldn’t it?  And it would explain Russian anger as well.

Turkish President Erdogan is an autocratic fundamentalist Muslim, who has his own set of priorities and arrogantly disregards or rejects any criticism from anybody.  Russian President Putin is not exactly backward in coming forward, either.  Things might get rather interesting in that part of the world . . . Real.  Soon.  Now.



  1. If you let Russian military forces cross your border without permission, they're going to do precisely that. Not every country is going to rely on the UN to sanction Russia after they invade, because it didn't work for Ukraine. Turkey has just made it clear which response they'll issue.

  2. Another anon

    Some more guesses. I think it was a combination of opportunities.

    1. Erdogen, Islamist, hates the Syrian president – anti Islamist and part of a sect that Sunnis see as apostolate, and wants him out.

    2. Turkey feared a us Assad alliance in Syria saving Assad. Turkey has been supporting the more Islamist rebels… This killed such an alliance.

    3. Erdogen's son made money form oil imports from Isis.

    4. Erdogen is not popular, so easy way to fix is rally around the flag.

    5. Never let a crisis to waste. Erdogen wants changes in turkeys constitution…

    6. Russia wants nato destroyed, so they will test the limits. Radar locks, etc.

    7. A Turkish f4 was shot down a while ago by a Syrian missile. Pay back…

    8. Russia was bombing Turkmen. Turkey feels protective of this related ethnic group.

  3. The Turks are assholes. The Russians are assholes. The Syrians are assholes. In fact, just about everybody in that part of the world are assholes. I can't think of a single party to this whole mess, with the possible exception of the Yazidis and some of the Kurds, who aren't total assholes.

    So, my question is, a.) why do we care, and b.) why are we letting any of these assholes sucker us into a war in that area? The Syrians are reaping as they sowed, with all the shelter and connivance they provided former regime figures from Iraq, the Turks are doing the same, given that they tried to screw up our efforts in Iraq from day one, by first giving permission for use of their ports and territories to go into Northern Iraq and then changing their minds, and… It just goes on and on.

    The Russians have been violating other people's airspace all over the world wherever they have been able to. Constant reenactment of Cold War-style penetration "raids" requiring massively expensive ramp-ups to counter and escort, with potential for accidents since they've done these "raids" with their IFF turned off, and on and on. That somebody has finally said "Enough of this…", and shot them down? Too bad, too sad. Frankly, I think the next time they run some Bears up to the limits, and penetrate US airspace over Alaska, we ought to think about the same response. They can't mind their manners? Then, treat them the way they treated so many others, over the years. Same-same with the flights into European airspace. Hell, simply from the standpoint of creating navigational hazards with those shut-down IFF boxes they ought to get shot down. What happens when some civil airliner or other aircraft runs into one of those things because the flights aren't scheduled or controlled, and the IFF is shut off, effectively making them invisible to civil air control?

    I'm really not seeing a good guy, here. The USAF probably ought to be emulating the Turkish response, to be quite honest. Because, the odds aren't horrible that one of these days, a "routine probing flight close to US airspace" is really going to be more than a training exercise. One way or another, the Sovie… Errr, Russians, need to be dissuaded from this childish bullshit.

  4. And then there's this from last fall:

    The siege of Amerli has exposed a reality that is hardly uttered in Turkey and mostly passed over with reports that the Iraqi army is "bombing Sunni Turkmen settlements on the pretext of targeting IS positions." The reality is this: The rapid IS advance in Turkmen regions became possible because of the support the organization receives from Sunni Turkmens. Long before IS adopted its current name, the group already had a solid number of Sunni Turkmen recruits in the years it operated as an al-Qaeda affiliate. Shiite Turkmens claim the aid Turkey sent to Turkmen regions in previous years was exploited by people linked to al-Qaeda.

    A closer look at the IS advance in Turkmen regions reveals the following sequence: Immediately after IS captured Mosul in June, the group turned to the Turkmen district of Tal Afar, penetrating Sunni areas first and then moving on to attack Shiite neighborhoods. The group took easily Avgenni, a 10,000-strong Sunni Turkmen town north of Tal Afar, as well as the villages of Sheikh Ibrahim, Muhallabiyah and Juma. Muhallabiyah, which is part of Mosul province and has a population of about 10,000, had already won a reputation as an al-Qaeda stronghold and even has a cemetery for "al-Qaeda martyrs."

    With IS using bases in Sunni Turkmen areas to mount attacks on Shiite Turkmen settlements, the rift and the conflict in the Turkmen community deepened, though the issue was rarely addressed. Finally, 25 Turkmen villages around Tal Afar and about 30 others around Mosul fell to IS. The militants destroyed and burned down houses in Balilkligol village, taking revenge on its inhabitants, members of the Cholak tribe, who resisted al-Qaeda in previous years.

    Read more:

  5. If the Turks start the shooting, article 5 can not be invoked. Erdogan can try, but i doubt he will get a response of anyone else.

    Indications are that Erdogan has been supporting ISIS as well, not just getting oil from them. Obama hasn't exactly been enthusiastic about beating ISIS back either.

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