The Hypocrisy of Turkey’s Downing of the Russian Su-24
It is very interesting listening to the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speak as we are hearing the ramblings of a would be sultan. Attempting to justify downing a Russian Su-24 bomber, an incident that has prompted Russia to impose economic sanctions on Turkey and has led to heightened tensions between the two nations, Erdoğan said:
“Previously, airspace violations have been discussed with Russia at all levels. This was not the first such violation. We have documents and there are hundreds of violations. A violation in the Black Sea last year lasted 15 minutes. When we warned, they said ‘the pilots don’t speak English well and there is a misunderstanding.’ The same problems were also faced in the first violation in Syria … These incidents sadden us strategically.”
At face value such a line of argument seems reasonable enough. Russia has violated Turkish airspace on previous occasions, both on the Syria border and in the Black Sea, and they were warned by Turkey as to the future repercussions of such incidents. Regrettably, Russia did not adequately heed Turkey’s warnings and as a result we have the unfortunate, but ‘justified,’ downing of a Russian Su-24. So this is Erdoğan’s story and ultimately isn’t he just protecting the sovereignty of his nation?
Beyond the fact that it is disputed by the Russians that their Su-24 even violated Turkish airspace, Erdoğan’s arguments are rife with hypocrisy when we consider how his air force behaves with respect to the borders and airspace of Greece. Erdoğan mentions that there were “hundreds of violations” of Turkish airspace by Russia military planes, well Turkish warplanes have violated Greece’s airspace 2,244 times in 2014 alone according to data from the University of Thessaloniki.
Then Erdoğan speaks of a Russian violation of Turkish airspace over the Black Sea that lasted for 15 minutes, well on Tuesday six Turkish F-16’s violated Greek airspace over the Aegean for approximately 30 minutes. So it seems to that the Greece air force, if they employed the same rules of engagement that Erdoğan himself has employed and defended, them they would have been perfectly justified in downing Turkish jets that violated their airspace.
Just take your pick of the over 2,000 violations that they could have responded to. But I suspect that if Greece blasted a Turkish F-16 out of the sky over the Aegean that Erdoğan would not have been very pleased nor would he have been sympathetic to Greece’s ‘justification’ over such an act.
The most recent Turkish violation of Greek airspace is all the more remarkable as it happened after the Su-24 incident. One would think that it would be advisable for Turkey to hold off provocatively violating another nation’s airspace, for at least a while, following their downing of the Su-24. By doing so the Russian’s and people like me would have fewer valid examples to criticize Turkey’s behavior with. But Erdoğan, could not wait more than a week, to brazenly and pointlessly violate Greece’s airspace, who we should remember are supposed NATO allies of Turkey and who may be asked to help defend Turkey against Russia if the situation deteriorates.
The hypocrisy of Erdoğan should be expected as he is an imperious man who desires to re-establish a new Ottoman empire and to be sultan over that empire. Of course in his eyes he is not being hypocritical. He is a sultan–at the moment in spirit only–who can do as he pleases to others and if they reciprocate in kind, then how dare they have the temerity to slight him.
But what is most amazing in this situation, is that the West may very well back up this egomaniacal ruler to the point of NATO going to war with Russia. Does it make any sense for us to risk World War Three, and possible nuclear war, to support the mad machinations of a would be sultan?