Range of #Frustrations Reached Boil as Turkey Shot Down Russian Jet
Turkey has been quietly seething ever since Russia began military operations against Syrian rebels two months ago, wrecking Ankara’s policy of ousting the government of President Bashar al-Assad. The Turks were forced to downgrade their ambitions from the ouster of Mr. Assad to simply maintaining a seat at the negotiating table when the time comes, said Soner Cagaptay, a Turkish analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a nonpartisan research group.
“That would require Turkey-backed rebels to be present in Syria, and I think Turkey was alarmed that Russia’s bombing of positions held by Turkey-backed rebels in northern Syria was hurting their positions and therefore Turkey’s future stakes in Syria,” Mr. Cagaptay said. “So this is also an aggressive Turkey posture in the Syrian civil war to prevent the defeat of Turkey-backed rebels so they can hold onto territory and have a say in the future of Syria.”
The bombing was creating political problems for Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Cagaptay said. “In the days leading up to the incident, many newspapers, especially the pro-government publications, were running headlines highlighting the suffering of the Turkmens, who are closely related to Anatolian Turks,” he said. “I think the government felt that, in terms of domestic politics, it had to do something to ease some of this pressure that had resulted from the Russian bombardment against Turkmens in northern Syria.”