The downing of a Russian Su-24 bomber jet on November 24 by a Turkish F-16 fighter on the Turkish-Syrian border, where the two air forces have been playing high-speed cat-and-mouse games for months, opened a new and dangerous phase in an international crisis that’s long been brewing on low-boil.
Although President Recep Erdoğan’s Turkey and President Vladimir Putin’s Russia are ancestral foes, in recent years the countries had enjoyed a cordial relationship with subsde between them and significant alignments on many security issues, notwithstanding the former’s NATO membership going back to the early Cold War. As the Middle East has gone up in flames since the Arab Spring, a Russo-Turkish partnership might have gone a long way in preventing wider conflagration.
Alas, any regional cooperation between Ankara and Moscow has broken up on Syrian rocks, with the two countries pursuing contrary goals in that sad country, which has experienced the torments of hell since its civil war began in spring 2011. While Mr. Putin has backed its proxy—the Assad dictatorship in Damascus—to the hilt, Mr. Erdoğan has quietly supported anti-Assad guerrilla groups with equal determination.
Read the rest at the New York Observer…