With the latest international incident this time between Russia and Turkey, the world edges even closer to a global conflict. On Tuesday, a Russian Su-24 was shot down by the Turkish military. According to the Turkish government, these errant pilots ignored as many as 10 warnings to vacate Turkish airspace; however, the Russians deny they were given any warning at all. One U.S. official was quoted as saying their calculations showed that the Russians were only in Turkish airspace for as little as 30 seconds, casting doubt on the validity of the Turkish claims of issuing these warnings before destroying the jet and ultimately killing one of the pilots.
As of Wednesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated Turkey will not apologize for their actions, and instead expects apologies from “those who violated our airspace.” Going further, President Erdogan said during an interview with CNN, “If the same violation occurs today, Turkey has to react the same way.”
Russia has responded in kind by upping the ante a bit, placing their S-400 anti-aircraft system on Syria’s Mediterranean coast near Latakia, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Shoygu. Now both nations are throwing around accusations of their counterpart’s support of terrorism—specifically ISIS. The merry-go-round of international relations is in full swing and is exactly what ISIS hopes will bring about a new global conflict.
Russia and Turkey have long been adversaries, going back to the days of WWI and the old Ottoman Empire. These tensions, though very inopportune, are nothing new. However, as Turkey is the region’s only secularly run, predominately Muslim nation, their support of this global war on ISIS is a critical one. Do we want to stand by and allow Russia to bully Turkey into stepping aside in this fight or even pressing them into the arms of ISIS?
Consider the enormous border that Turkey has with three leading hotspots of the region: Syria, Iraq, and Iran. If Turkey decides to turn the other way and allow free passage of all the arms goodies ISIS needs, we could have a tidal flood that would be difficult to stem.
The U.S. just signed an agreement with Turkey to allow airstrikes from Incirlik Air Base to assist our efforts to defeat ISIS. Having the Turks on our side in this fight is far better than their usual stance of ‘watch and see,’ and certainly better than if they worked against us.
Finally, Turkey hasn’t been all that interested in focusing on ISIS, as their primary concern is the Kurdish militant group, the PKK. Any heightening of tensions between Turkey and Russia will only divert what little attention they are giving to the ISIS problem.
Infighting and unrest between this new and fragile coalition is exactly what these crazed Islamic terrorists are after. They are counting on our inability to put aside our decades-long differences and unite against a common foe. The weakest link in this worldwide federation is Russia and their hard-headed, prideful leader, Vladimir Putin.
Did Turkey intentionally down these combat jets as a sucker punch to Russia while their back was turned? Perhaps, but the bigger question is whether Mr. Putin can overlook what this appears to be and redirect this rage at an enemy we all need eliminated before seeking revenge on a regional ally the rest of the coalition needs right now. If Russia begins a steady campaign to cripple the Turkish military, it will only serve the needs of our enemy and potentially shove the doomsday clock to midnight in the process.
Let’s all hope the powers that be can shelve their animosity for the time being and redirect this aggression to the crazed fanatics that seem to be multiplying by the week. ISIS is the greatest threat to civilization as we know it, and any divergence away from this focus will only weaken our ability to annihilate them.
(Featured image courtesy of russianfootballnews.com)