The suspense is killing me. ISIS people and Syrian rebels (which I think are the same thing) both announced that the two Russian pilots of the downed fighter plane were killed by shooting them as they descended from parachutes, and that they were dead by the time they hit the ground. However, this turns out to be a total lie, as one of the pilots was killed by the enemy but the other was rescued by Syrian Army commandos. Another lie, according to the pilot, is that there were no warnings at all from the Turks before they fired a missile at his aircraft. The official Turkish story is that there were up to 10 warnings. Since Turkey was not under attack and any incursion of their airspace was borderline anyway, they had no valid reason to shoot down the Russian airplane.
So far, Putin has responded to Turkey’s attack by bringing in a massive array of anti-aircraft and anti-missile batteries, and any further assaults by Turkish aircraft on theirs will be met by a surface to air missile barrage. A Russian guided missile cruiser is also on it’s way to the scene “with an aim to destroy any target that may pose danger.” This may mean any Turkish aircraft anywhere near any Russian aircraft, regardless of what it is. I can see Putin now, grinning and saying “Oops”.
Some important points: Russia and Turkey had just signed a deal for Russia to build oil and gas pipelines through Turkey to Western Europe. This has been halted. Turkey gets half or more of it’s natural gas from Russia. The gas still flows but the price may go up. In addition, Russians are Turkey’s primary source of tourism income, accounting for a $34 Billion boost to the Turkish economy last year. Tourism has now been halted and Russia is advising it’s citizens to get pit of Turkey. Last, NATO is weak and Erdogan’s attempt to fault Russia with NATO by creating this crisis is unlikely to get anywhere.
The gas still flows because Russia does want the continued income, and Turkey still needs it, so will keep buying it. But Turkey needs to hold a new election and get rid of their Islamist ruler. Turkey was secular and kept so by the military until Erdogan was elected and booted out all the generals before making Turkey Islamist.
What the Islamists want is for all non-Muslims to get out of the fighting in Syria, and that’s not going to happen. It appears that Turkey’s President Erdogan has committed himself to a foolish course of action, as Turkey has much to lose and nothing I can see to gain by making an enemy of Putin. Erdogan has undoubtedly gained esteem in the eyes of ISIS leaders by this attack on a Russian aircraft, but after ISIS is defeated, what then?
Turkey’s leaders need to decide which way they’re going. Go all the way over to the side of ISIS, join fully with Russia, or back off and be totally neutral, because right now they’re burning both ends of a candle and holding it in the middle, and pretty soon the fire is going to burn them.
Just a little personal side note, early this year I imported a large shipment of a rare type of agate stone from Ankara, Turkey, most of which I slabbed up and sold on ebay. It doesn’t look like I’ll be doing any more business in Turkey. Goes to show, you just never know.