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June 25, 2012, Monday

Questions behind Syrian attack

Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish plane on Friday has heightened tensions between the two neighbors as it has raised questions as to what Syria’s motivation was. Despite statements by Syria claiming the attack was accidental, many columnists believe it was no mistake; instead, they believe it was part of a multinational operation aiming to tarnish Turkey’s reputation and image in the region as well as to send a message to Turkey demonstrating discomfort with Turkey’s policies regarding Syria.

Nasuhi Güngör of Star noted that the even-tempered statements Turkey delivered following the attack and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s immediate meeting with opposition party leaders is praiseworthy but that the government should now continue to remain calm and carefully analyze the details of and motivations behind this attack. Güngör summed up some recent developments: Western media have recently started to point to Yemen as a model for Syria as the West does not want the Muslim Brotherhood to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But what Turkey recommends for Syria is a democratic election in which the public elects whomever it wants. The West is aware of the fact that in the event of an election the new president would be someone from the Muslim Brotherhood. This is where Turkey differs from Western countries in the Syrian issue. And so the Syrian attack on a Turkish jet aims to lessen Turkey’s influence on regional issues as well as its participation in the resolution of the Syrian issue. The columnist suggests looking at the recent terrorist attack in Dağlıca with this point in mind, implying that the international community may have had a hand in the Dağlıca attack with an aim to upend Turkey’s domestic policies.

Mehmet Baransu of the Taraf daily detailed two different pictures of Turkey from two different times. First, he said, before the Syrian attack, governmental officials and particularly the prime minister and foreign affairs minister would draw a picture of a Turkey as the leader and playmaker of its region, while Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was lionized across the Middle East and at international meetings. Yet the second picture shows the flare-up with Israel that sprang from the Mavi Marmara flotilla raid that resulted in the deaths of nine Turks; the Libyan crisis, in which Turkey acted as boss by saying NATO could not enter Libya; and, finally, the current crisis with Syria. The columnist says that in all of these crises, Turkey exaggerated its role and influence while arguing from a correct standpoint and that this is why the international community feels the need to teach Turkey a lesson about not showing off its power.

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