The families of 17 Russian passengers on a Damascus-bound plane from Moscow got a midnight shock upon learning that Turkish jets had intercepted the flight. For those asking why, the answer begins in Syria, and ripples throughout the world.
Damascus called it an act of piracy. Ankara said it was exercising its rights. Moscow accused the Turkish government of endangering the lives of Russian nationals. That Turkish military jets would intercept a passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus shows just how much the 18-month conflict to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad has rippled throughout the region and the world.
Turkey’s increased belligerence, which began with a disproportionate retaliatory shelling campaign against Syria last week and culminated in the interception of the Syrian passenger plane under the pretext that it was carrying Russian military equipment, has sparked a diplomatic row for which Ankara initially had few answers.
On Thursday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the plane was carrying munitions for the Syrian Defense Ministry.
Russia's arms export agency said that it had no cargo on the flight, while military analysts argue it is unlikely Moscow would use a civilian airliner to send military cargo to Syria. What emboldened Turkey to force the jet to land is another matter.
“Turkey isn’t doing it without an 'okay' from Washington. And it is frightening actually how aggressively they’re playing at this point, especially a couple of weeks before the [American] election,” Anti-war activist and journalist Don Debar told RT.
Just hours before Turkey intercepted the Syrian passenger plane, Nile Bowie, an independent journalist working in the region, told RT that six days of Turkey’s retaliatory shelling against Syria had laid the groundwork for a broadermilitary intervention.
“We have to look at what the Turkish government has done recently. Recently lawmakers in Ankara have passed this carte blanche legislation that allows the Turkish government to conduct operations within Syrian territory, and I think this is an extremely dangerous turn of events,” he said.
Source and full story: Russia Today, 11 Oct 2012