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July 12, 2012, Thursday

How was our jet downed, really?

It has been 20 days since the downing of our jet. But we are still discussing whether it was downed by Syrian fire or by accident. The technical details have not yet been revealed; it is not certain whether it was downed by accident, technical problems, missile or anti-aircraft system.

The prime minister responded two days ago to critics who say they do not believe the Chief of Staff, the ministers and the prime minister of the Turkish state. That is nice, but by the time prime minister said, “Syria assaulted our aircraft without any prior warning, out of hostility,” the General Staff, in a recent statement, said they have found no trace of any flammable material, organic or inorganic explosive in the wreck of the plane. In reference to the downed plane, the General Staff also used the words, “the plane that the Syrian authorities alleged they downed.” In other words, the prime minister argues that the Syrian side certainly assaulted our plane, whereas the General Staff says it is a Syrian allegation.

Besides, this is the fifth statement by the General Staff on this matter. And let me underline once more that the General Staff implied the plane was downed by Syria, whereas it now suggests that the plane was allegedly downed by Syrian forces.

Who should we believe? If you make conflicting statements you cause confusion; and of course, we become curious about what really happened. It appears that we need two more weeks to better understand what happened. The US and Russia have recently handed in their records; these records will be reviewed and evaluated. The other parts of the plane under the sea will be salvaged and analyzed. Maybe only then we will see what really happened.

Why did this happen? The government acted imprudently. The information received from the General Staff was immediately announced in an effort to address public outrage. However, that information was not adequate because the relevant technical reviews had not been performed yet.

The most important point in this matter is this: There are apparent attempts to make sure the government takes missteps in military affairs. Personally, I previously wrote that the government was trapped in Uludere. There are some clues indicating that there was a similar trap in the downing of the jet. Time will tell whether the jet was downed or crushed. And there is one thing that is obvious by now: that Syria argues they downed it. Why is it doing it? This is the real question.

Syria is not a country that would set up a trap against us. It could only be part of such a trap. Who are setting up this trap? Are the traces in Uludere and those in this incident the same?

How relevant are these traps to Turkey's rising power and domestic political stability? It is estimated that the Turkish population will rise to 95 million in 2050. Are there attempts to undermine Turkey's power and popularity by using the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Syria, given that Turkey will become a regional and international player in the future? How uncomfortable are Iran and Israel with Turkey's rise? What are the US, Germany, France, Britain and Russia thinking about it? Why is China protecting Syria so zealously? We have to consider these questions in respect to the downing of the jet.

There is much sensitivity in foreign policy. Our emotions have appeared to be more influential over the past three centuries. It is nice to get excited, but there is also another principle suggesting that others should not be disturbed. Özal would say “from Adriatic to Great Chinese wall” in an effort to mark the sphere of influence of Turkey. But he did not consider the reaction of Russia and China. Turkey is now rising in the Balkans, the Middle East, the Caucasus and the African continent. This soft power will cause uneasiness among international community and world powers.

We have to cease acting emotionally and defiantly. Turkey should not take a leading role in the Syrian crisis. True, we could see that we have humanitarian responsibilities in the Syrian affairs. However, it is not proper to become hostile to Syria as if Turkey is involved in a bilateral dispute. I am not saying that our Syrian policy is fundamentally wrong. I am saying that method and style matters. Rushed and emotional moves and reactions make proper policies controversial.

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