The clash between Russia\’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey\’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian fighter, is one which has set the entire world on edge as diplomats desperately work overtime to reduce the tension.
Putin is not blameless in this affair. His air force has been probing Western air spaces provocatively in a number of different locations in recent months. But was the Russian president right, after the downing of the jet, to accuse \’back-stabbing\’ Turkey of being the accomplices of ISIS terrorists?
And was there any truth in Putin\’s accusation yesterday – made just as Moscow was expelling 39 Turkish businessmen attending a conference in Russia – that Turkey is propping up ISIS by buying oil from them?
This latest claim inevitably prompted a furious response from Erdogan, who accused Putin of slander. But the fact is that Erdogan\’s regime has on many occasions turned a blind eye to ISIS activity in Turkey, as well as to Turkish businessmen and smugglers doing trade deals with the jihadist butchers.
To be fair, on the surface, Turkey\’s president is fully involved in the fight against ISIS. In October he allowed U.S. jets to use Turkey\’s Incirlik air base for operations against ISIS, pledging that his forces, too, would join the fight.
But the truth is that Turkey\’s planes have aimed their missiles almost exclusively at the one army which poses a real threat to ISIS, and has won countless battlefield victories against them – the Kurdish PKK forces inside Syria.
The trouble is that Erdogan, who has spent years ruthlessly concentrating power into his own hands, considers the Kurds an even greater threat to his nation than ISIS.
This is a mess. And a potentially disastrous one for what passes for world peace these days.