Once upon a time, not too long ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the prime proponent of a foreign policy dubbed “zero problems with our neighbors” – derided by many in the West as “new-Ottomanism”.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meets this Tuesday in Brussels not only to craft its response to a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet shot being down by Syria’s anti-aircraft artillery but to seal what sort of “new Ottomanism” is emerging from what actually turned into a “big problem with one of our neighbors” policy.
Davutoglu insists the F-4 was shot in international air space – although conceding it had briefly entered Syrian air space. Contradicting Syria’s official explanation, he said the jet was clearly marked as Turkish; was on a “training flight” to test Turkey’s “national radar system”; and most of all had “no covert mission related to Syria”.
Previously, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi had stressed this was an “accident, not an attack”. According to Makdissi, “an unidentified object entered our air space and unfortunately as a result it was brought down. It was understood only later that it was a Turkish plane.”
Davutoglu, in a Turkish media blitzkrieg, as reported by Today’s Zaman, reiterated this was a “solo flight”; the jet was “unarmed”; there was no warning before it was shot down; and as for Syria trying to connect the “not ill-intentioned violation” of its airspace to the shooting of the F-4, that was “irrelevant”.
Violation of another country’s air space, trying to avoid its defenses by flying at low altitude, is as normal to Davutoglu as a sheesh kebab for lunch; “There were many violations of Syrian air space by other countries before. But Syria shot down our unarmed plane.”
But then the foreign minister started deviating (or not) from the script. He stressed, “No matter how the downed Turkish jet saga unfolds, we will always stand by [the] Syrian people”. And this; “We will always stand by Syrian people until the advent of a democratic regime there.” Forget about the F-4 Phantom; the “Syrian people” may sleep soundly because the heart of the matter remains regime change.
Read More: Asia Times