By Emre Uslu
November 25, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "Today's Zaman" - The world is now debating the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey. Most observers agree that bringing down that plane was very risky for Turkey. But is no one asking how Turkey had the courage to do this?
I think this is the essential question in fact. What is giving Turkey the courage to stand up to like this to Russia, which is so much bigger, both militarily and economically? We are talking about the same Turkey that has never even brought down a Greek jet; Greece, of course, being many times smaller in all ways than Turkey. You might also stop and recall that some time ago, Israeli war planes strayed into Turkish airspace while heading to Syria to bomb some facilities there; Turkey did nothing to those jets. In contrast, however, Turkey brought down the Russian plane, without much warning, after an airspace violation that lasted all of 17 seconds.
There are, of course, technical explanations for what happened. But to understand, from a political angle, why Turkey made this decision, calls for examination from a wider perspective.
Let us first make this clear: The decision to down the Russian plane was not one Turkey made alone. If it were, the reactions from various Western capitals would be different than what we are hearing now. It's clear now that Turkey -- more specifically, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan -- has picked up a new contract with the West, and that the downing of the Russian jet is just the first stage of this contract.
So what makes this all so clear now? A few essential signals. The first is the process of preparing domestic public opinion, which we have witnessed in recent days. The second is the statement made by US President Barack Obama after the plane came down. The third is the public statements we now hear coming from high-level offices in Turkey.
Let's start with the first signal, though. A project -- one which always seems to work with the Turkish public -- was implemented by Ankara in the weeks preceding the plane incident. A loud media fuss was made over the “massacres being carried out against the Turkmens” in Syria. For those familiar with Turkish state traditions, it was definitely not a fuss to be ignored. In Turkey, whenever there is a stir made over Turks or Turkmens being harmed (or being in harm's way) abroad, it always means that a military operation is soon to come. This is actually a strategy that's been in place since the 1950s, when the whole campaign aimed at raising awareness of Cyprus started. Likewise, we've seen the Turkmen population of northern Iraq used the same way that the Turkmens of Syria have now been used. And recalling the Sept. 6-7, 1955 pogrom, it was the same thing, with the Turkish population in Thessaloniki being used. In nearly all of these situations, there have been deep state operations.
In fact, I began to get suspicious about all the news being broadcast regarding massacres against Turkmens in Syria some time ago, which is why I wrote this on my Twitter account back on Nov. 20:
“When there is TURKMEN DRAMA news in Turkey, it means society is being prepared for something. They're going to put our military into Syria, which is why all the news about Turkmen Mountain is quite suspicious.”
Just four days after this tweet of mine, the Russian plane was brought down. It's clear now that Turks were being prepared for something like this. Which means, in this case, the bringing down of the Russian plane was not an act committed in the heat of the moment, but a planned operation.
But does this mean it's an operation Turkey carried out alone, or with the backing of a network of Western countries?
We see answers to this question in the statement made by Obama in the wake of the incident. While Obama warned both sides “not to increase the tension,” he only directly blamed Russia. He said that Russia claims to be bombing ISIL, but it is in fact bombing the opposition along the borders. The second half of this statement is crucial, as it marks the first time we've heard Obama mention Turkmen Mountain, in the north of Syria, and use protective language in talking about the groups there, while simultaneously blaming the Russians. But who are these groups that Obama is pushing to protect?
Well, there's al-Nusra, as well as Ahrar al-Sham and the Fatih brigades. Most of these are groups linked one way or another with al-Qaeda. The protective sort of rhetoric we're hearing from Obama with regard to these groups shows us that Turkey was not the main planner of this latest operation.
What's more, the near perfection of the messages given by Ankara to the global public the moment Turkey brought down the Russian jet show us that this was no last-minute operation, and that the scenario as a whole had been well thought out. Think about this: The plane goes down and immediately Ankara is able to show the entire world the maps showing the route flown by the plane. Then we hear the audio tapes of the Turkish pilots warning the Russian planes; the voices are so clear and audible, it's as though they had been taped in a studio beforehand. After this, we hear statements from Western pilots and soldiers -- in this case, American and Dutch -- noting that they, too, had clearly heard the Turkish pilots warning the Russian plane.
Clearly, it's all a well-rehearsed scenario.
We've seen the downing of a Syrian helicopter and a plane in the
past, not that long ago, but there was nothing like the map
distribution and preparation of public opinion in advance we saw
this time around.
For those who know the normal speed of Turkish bureaucracy, it's obvious that unless this scenario was prepared in advance, there's no way the statements we've already heard -- and the reactions we've already seen -- would have come in such a timely fashion.
So, in the end, all this data points to just one possible conclusion, as I mentioned at the start: Erdoğan has picked up a new contract. Let's hope he's able to carry it through successfully.