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The Military News Politics

Turkey Downs Allegedly Intruding Russian Fighter Near Syria Border (reuters.com) 600

jones_supa writes: Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 fighter near the Syrian border on Tuesday after repeated warnings over airspace violations. Moscow said it could prove the jet had not left Syrian air space. Footage from private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV showed the warplane going down in flames in a woodland area. Separate footage from Turkey's Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed. A Syrian rebel group sent a video to Reuters that appeared to show one of the pilots immobile and badly wounded on the ground and an official from the group said he was dead. This is the first time a NATO member's armed forces have downed a Russian military aircraft since the 1950s. The Guardian is following the developments with live updates. Also covered by the BBC, which notes Russian aircraft have flown hundreds of sorties over northern Syria since September. Moscow says they have targeted only "terrorists", but activists say its strikes have mainly hit Western-backed rebel groups. Turkey, a vehement opponent of Syria's president, has warned against violations of its airspace by Russian and Syrian aircraft. Last month, Ankara said Turkish F-16s had intercepted a Russian jet that crossed its border and two Turkish jets had been harassed by an unidentified Mig-29.
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Turkey Downs Allegedly Intruding Russian Fighter Near Syria Border

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  • I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:01AM (#50993453)

    Let's start World War III over a piece of land in the middle east we all gave fuck-all about five years ago.

    Didn't we elect someone to get us the hell out of some sandy region where everyone hates everyone else, and the only people they hate more is anyone who shows up to help? Are we really going to do this all over again with the advisers and the airstrikes and then another Iraq/Libya/Egypt clusterfuck?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cold fjord ( 826450 )

      WW1 started with one man being shot dead. A downed aircraft is just as good to start WW3.

      • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by njnnja ( 2833511 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:57AM (#50993921)

        Yes, but WWI was caused by many factors, including a network of western alliances, a rapid advance in communication technologies and globalization, a multiethnic region where nobody seemed to be able to get along, a rising industrial and economic power challenging the existing hegemon, and the last straw, Russia coming to the aid of a long time ally amidst a campaign of terrorist acts.

        Fortunately that sounds nothing like the world today!

    • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by quenda ( 644621 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:11AM (#50993531)

      and the only people they hate more is anyone who shows up to help?

      I was with you until you said "help". Don't be so naive. If not for the oil, we'd have as many "helpers" in the Middle East as we do in the Congo.

      • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @12:51PM (#50994957) Journal
        Yeah. of course, the biggest importers of middle eastern oil is Europe, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and then America. So, that brings us back to wondering why America is being dragged into this quagmire?
      • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @02:04PM (#50995667)

        And you lost me when you said oil, and helpers in the congo...

        The US DOES have "helpers" in Africa-- when it comes to training, we actually spend more money and send more units there. We train nearly twice as many people in Sub-Saharan Africa compared to the Middle east and North Africa combined. source [securityassistance.org]

        Also note that special forces deployments are 10x what they were in Africa ten years ago, while presence in the middle east is actually going down. source [salon.com]

        I know you want to make this about OIL, but I think this is a gross simplification. Even if it were about oil, none of this would apply to Syria, which is not a large producer. source [wikipedia.org]

        I'm not saying that oil companies have no influence in our government (I'm sure they do--- just like military contractors and a myriad other huge industries in the US and the world influence probably every part of our lives and governments) but the US is training and policing all sorts of areas of the world, regardless of whether or not they fit some predetermined "OMG OIL" narrative. Is this a great idea? Honestly I have no idea, I'm sure some citizens are happy to have the US intervene just as sure as some will hate us for it.

    • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:22AM (#50993613) Homepage

      "Didn't we elect someone to get us the hell out of some sandy region"

      No, but we did get free healthcare!

    • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:50AM (#50993869)

      Didn't we elect someone to get us the hell out of some sandy region where everyone hates everyone else

      ...and ironicly, staying out of it is exactly what got us into this position. That's the problem with being the USA. We have treaty commitments (eg: Turkey is a NATO member we are pledged to defend, as is France), and letting situations fester until they start to spill over onto our allies only means things will be 100x worse when we are finally forced to get involved.

      On paper it might sound nice, but ignoring the nasty political swamps of the world is simply not an option for the US.

      • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mishra100 ( 841814 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:01AM (#50993951)

        What's the line then? There are millions of conflicts around the world that we can 'get involved with'. Saudi Arabia likes to behead and crucify people, should we 'get involved' with them? What is the number of wars and death it takes to make everyone do exactly what we want them to do?

        Did you know ISIS was born of intervention policies from the U.S. government? The reason why they are even around is because we are involved.

        Strangely enough, when you kill someone family members, they hate you every single time. I guess you should stamp out that hate with more death and hate...

        • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

          by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:34AM (#50994219)

          There are actually not many armed conflicts around the world, and very few of them are high-intensity conflicts. Most of them are in Africa.

          The problem is that if a country or coalition of countries decides to intervene, they also need to be prepared to ensure some minimal level of security and political stability for about 40 years or more, instead of withdrawing after 5-10 years. History has shown that again and again.

          • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

            by jabuzz ( 182671 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @12:26PM (#50994709) Homepage

            This a million times over. The three most recent examples being South Korea, Japan and Germany. In all instances we are still there more than half a century later. Well OK I am British so we are not technically in South Korea or Japan these days, but we still have bases in Germany 70 years later.

            • Re:I have an idea (Score:4, Informative)

              by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:59PM (#50996597) Homepage

              This a million times over. The three most recent examples being South Korea, Japan and Germany. In all instances we are still there more than half a century later. Well OK I am British so we are not technically in South Korea or Japan these days, but we still have bases in Germany 70 years later.

              That only works if the host nation is willing to be your buddy and ally. In the middle east, everybody hates each other. They hate the USA too, to a slightly smaller extent. Any politician in that region can score political points by pot-shotting the US, and bringing the various groups together in their shared distain for the USA. If you're a politician in a country that has serious issues, you'd be foolish to not try deflecting blame and anger at an overseas country. It works 90% of the time. Keep in mind that many of the borders in the middle east were drawn not based on culture or religious differences, or around old and established borders. They were drawn up after the end of WWI by France and the UK with a ruler.

              The only reason we got away with it in Japan and Germany was because both countries were completely and utterly destroyed. The remaining leaders could take the carrot and play ball, resign, or refuse to play ball and be forcibly removed and/or accused of war crimes. There was not much choice.

              Korea was a completely different situation. The Korean war has not officially ended, so being best buddies with the #1 military power in the world made sense, and still makes sense, no matter the cost.

              Given that there are several wealthy countries in the middle east waging proxy wars for their own selfish reasons, sectarian civil wars, the whole "new cold war" dynamic shaping up, plus widespread terrorism against basically any kind of target, civilian or military, a Japan/Germany style occupation can not work in the middle east. It probably never could.

        • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @02:43PM (#50995985)

          What's the line then? There are millions of conflicts around the world that we can 'get involved with'. Saudi Arabia likes to behead and crucify people, should we 'get involved' with them? What is the number of wars and death it takes to make everyone do exactly what we want them to do?

          The conflict in Iraq is special because the U.S. precipitated it. I was against invading Iraq, but once we did it I was absolutely committed to staying there until it was stable. While Saddam Hussein was a monster, like most monsters his grip on power provided a good deal of stability. Removing him also removed that stability, so we had a moral duty to stay there until a comparable level of stability was restored. Unfortunately, a majority of the U.S. just wanted out quickly regardless of stability and the consequences, and elected a President who promised just that and delivered. What we're seeing now with ISIS is the consequence of shirking our responsibility to fix what we broke, and not withdrawing from Iraq until it could provide its own stability.

          Did you know ISIS was born of intervention policies from the U.S. government? The reason why they are even around is because we are involved.

          Did you know U.S. inteventionist policies were born from Muslim acts against the U.S.? You've probably heard the opening line of the Marine Corps anthem:

          From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli...

          The Montezuma part makes sense. The U.S. fought several wars with Mexico, so of course the Marines would be involved. But Tripoli? That's way over in Libya (that's Africa for those weak in geography). What the hell were U.S. Marines doing there?

          Funny you should ask. Way back in 1800 when the U.S. was a freshly minted nation, it ran into a problem. Prior to the revolution, the U.S. was a British colony, and thus fell under British protection. When the U.S. gained independence, it lost that protection. The Muslim Barbary States decided to take advantage of the situation and began capturing U.S. merchant ships and holding the crews for ransom. Their thinking was that since these people weren't Muslim, it was ok to kidnap them and extort a ransom.

          The fledgling U.S. had its own domestic problems and didn't want to meddle with things going on in other countries. But it didn't have a navy which could deal with the situation, and attempts to negotiate a treaty with France to protect U.S. vessels fell through. So for the first few years, the U.S. just paid the ransom. Of course paying criminals just encourages them, and it became open season on U.S. flagged vessels. Eventually the payments became exorbitant, and the U.S. recommissioned a navy. President Thomas Jefferson (y'know, the guy who wrote famous things like, "We hold these truths to be self evident - that all men are created equal") launched a military operation to Africa [wikipedia.org] to end the kidnappings and free the hostages.

          That is how the U.S. Marines ended up in Tripoli. That is how U.S. meddling with foreign nations began. Because a bunch of Muslims decided to take advantage of a fledgling non-Muslim nation by kidnapping its citizens and demanding ransom for their freedom. So if you want to play the blame game, the first incident, the precipitating act which began over two centuries of animosity, was actually committed by Muslims against the U.S.

    • Re:I have an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:52AM (#50993881)

      The region never got its borders sorted out through wars like Europe did. The current borders were drawn up by European colonialists, and don't reflect tribal/ethnic divisions.

    • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:06AM (#50993979) Homepage Journal

      Didn't we elect someone to get us the hell out of some sandy region where everyone hates everyone else, and the only people they hate more is anyone who shows up to help?

      Texas?

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:01AM (#50993461)

    U.S., Iran, Turkey, Assad, Russia. All hate ISIS. All have an interest in destroying the ISIS "caliphate."

    Can't stop fighting among themselves for even a minute to even consider an alliance.

    Meanwhile, ISIS just slips across some other border that the side who happens to be fighting them at that moment can't cross.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From the ISIL "Welcome to the Caliphate!" brochure:

      Getting attacked by Russians or Assad? Head to Iraq. The U.S. won't let your attackers cross the border.

      Getting attacked by Americans or Iraqis? Head to Syria. Russia/Assad won't let your attackers cross the border.

      In doubt? Go to Turkey. They won't let ANYONE cross the border!

    • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:16AM (#50993557)

      The situation between Turkey and ISIS is actually a lot more murky than you would think - Turkey has actually actively collaborated with ISIS on occasion when it comes to fighting the Kurds (which Turkey has a long standing conflict with). Turkey has also actively protested Russian targets within Syria as they are pro-Turkey factions of ISIS.

      Turkey will play the anti-ISIS game only as long as they have to in order to keep up international appearances - behind the scenes, the game is played completely differently.

      • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:29AM (#50994171) Journal

        The situation between Turkey and ISIS is actually a lot more murky than you would think - Turkey has actually actively collaborated with ISIS on occasion when it comes to fighting the Kurds (which Turkey has a long standing conflict with). Turkey has also actively protested Russian targets within Syria as they are pro-Turkey factions of ISIS.

        It's amazing how short sighted people can be. Yeah there's been a long conflict with the Kurds, and yeah the Kurds want to break away. But for fuck's sake, having ISIS on your border is far, far, far worse.

        The Kurds want to break away, ISIS wants to take over and bring Turkey under the Caliphate.

        • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @12:32PM (#50994763)

          The Kurds want to break away, ISIS wants to take over and bring Turkey under the Caliphate.

          That's not quite it. The Turkish regime knows that the world will eventually get around to squashing ISIS, so from their perspective a sovereign Kurdistan is the more pressing problem. Not by any means justifying that point of view, just drawing attention to the twisted dynamic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Right, but the same applies to Russia too. Russia is pretending to bomb ISIS "terrorists" in Syria, and yet for every hundred bombing raids it's done only one has actually been against ISIS and ISIS territory. The other strikes have hit everything from al Qaeda off-shoots, which we'd probably agree is fair play, through to Kurds and Turkmenis who just want to be left the fuck alone in their particular pocket of Syria just because they also oppose Assad.

        The net result is that just as the Turks were indirectl

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:17AM (#50993579) Journal
      Those parties are not really fighting amongst themselves; but they do have different interests in Syria. While their common goal is to fight IS, they each want to use this conflict as an opportunity to back their own horse in this race. Russia bombs the "moderate" rebels opposing Assad, while the rest likes to support those rebels. Meanwhile, Turkey bombs the Kurds.

      By the way, Russia has a long history of violating the airspace of other nations. I'm surprised there hasn't been such an incident earlier.
      • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:25AM (#50993633)

        Those parties are not really fighting amongst themselves; but they do have different interests in Syria. While their common goal is to fight IS, they each want to use this conflict as an opportunity to back their own horse in this race.

        I shudder to think how WWII would have ended if the alliance powers had each worried so much about what the other sides would do AFTER they defeated Hitler that they refused to ally with one another to begin with.

        Destroy ISIS. Worry about the other squabbling bullshit later.

        The U.S. once had the balls to support JOSEPH STALIN to defeat a nasty threat. Now you won't even support some petty little dictators like Putin/Assad to defeat a religious movement that threatens the entire modern world?

        • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:43AM (#50993795) Journal

          I shudder to think how WWII would have ended if the alliance powers had each worried so much about what the other sides would do AFTER they defeated Hitler that they refused to ally with one another to begin with.

          Oh, believe me - they worried. Churchill openly worried about it (especially post-Yalta, where he saw that the UK got screwed pretty hard.) Roosevelt worried about it, though not as much... now post WWII, his big worry was that Gen. Patton would decide 'fuck it', and start a fight with the USSR anyway (just to get it out of the way).

          Incidentally, there were more than a few tense crises between East and West (towards and at the end of WWII) that never really made the papers - the relative silence was only because back then, the government would tell the press to shut the hell up about something, and the press (more often than not) compliantly kept quiet about it.

          • Agreed, a lot of the groundwork for the Cold War was laid out toward the latter half of the Second World War. By 1944, when it looked like the Axis' fall was well on its way, they spent just as much time positioning themselves for the post-war era: the Soviets providing captured Japanese equipment to the Chinese Communists, the United States (in small part) nuking Japan to bring a quick end to the war and prevent a Soviet occupation of Japan, the rush to capture German territories by Allied powers.
        • The Russians claim they are opposing ISIL (or whatever we want to call them) but actually spend more energy attacking the other opposition to Assad.
          The Turks claim they are opposing ISIL but have a different agenda: Support the Ethnic Turks in the border area, fight the Kurds, Assad and any Shia muslims who get involved. ISIL are Sunni fanatics (as are Al Q), Turkey is mostly Sunni.

          I'd guess that the downed plane did not enter Turkish airspace, it was definitely bombing the ethnic Turks in the border area.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HeckRuler ( 1369601 )

          The U.S. once had the balls to support JOSEPH STALIN to defeat a nasty threat.

          Yep, that's true. Oh, and while we're on the history [wikipedia.org] lesson [wikipedia.org]:

          The U.S. also once had the balls to support Saddam Hussein to defeat a nasty threat.

          The U.S. also once had the balls to support Osama Bin Laden to defeat a nasty threat.

          Perhaps you're suggesting the USA ally with a nefarious group to bring down the larger threat. Let me remind you that ISIS is in no way a credible threat to national security. They have zero chance of ending us. We will endure. They will not. Indeed, their time on this world seems

        • Now you won't even support some petty little dictators like Putin/Assad to defeat a religious movement that threatens the entire modern world?

          It's a bunch of pathetic terrorists not a threat to the entire modern world. FFS people, stop crapping your pants every time some nut shoots or blows up something. When that happens, terrorists might not win anything, but we definitely lose.

          Nobody religious extremist is going to kill you tomorrow. Go live your life. (But change your pants, please.)

      • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:45AM (#50993813)

        By the way, Russia has a long history of violating the airspace of other nations. I'm surprised there hasn't been such an incident earlier.

        This is ironic considering Turkey lost an F-4 to Syrian air defence a couple of years ago after the Turkish aircraft violated Syrian airspace...

      • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:49AM (#50994355)

        By the way, Russia has a long history of violating the airspace of other nations.

        Ha. The USA made a wholesale business of such violations against the USSR with virtually no retaliation in kind. This little-known secret campaign began in 1946. There were losses, killed and imprisoned, kept secret. B-29s and Lockheed P2Vs were used; later C-130s and B-66s. By the 1950s, B-47 bombers were being repeatedly sent on deep penetration reconnaissance missions. Then came the U-2s. Francis Gary Powers' ill-fated spy flight was far from the only such.

        All told more than 40 US aircraft invading Soviet aircraft were shot down. Question: can you identify a single Soviet or Russian aircraft which was ever shot down over US territory? As far as I know they have never violated it; certainly not systematically and purposefully.

        Incidents of Russian aircraft probing the US which are drummed up as provocative are no more than Russians exercising their perfect right to range in international airspace "near" (gasp) to US territory.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I'm pretty sure we've always been at war with East Asia.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:23AM (#50993627) Journal

      But does Turkey hate ISIS? The Kurds of northern Iraq have been one of the targets of ISIS, and every Kurd killed by ISIS is another Kurd that won't cause Turkey problems. Why do you think Turkey is the porous border that is allowing people and goods to flow into Iraq and Syria? Because they want ISIS to cause mayhem, kill lots of Kurds and send the message to Turkish Kurds that they'll happily send them to the slaughter too if anyone starts thinking about Greater Kurdistan again.

      The Turks have never been allergic to the idea of genocide. Just look at the Ottoman genocide of ethnic Armenians during WWI. I'm sure if the Turkish government thought it could get away with it, it would kill every Kurd it could find

      • Turkey doesn't like ISIS - but Turkey hates the Kurds more, and views them as the real/long-term enemy or problem. Turkey is certainly not sympatico with the US (nevermind Russia) on taking out ISIS, especially not if the Kurds in Iraq are empowered by it.

        In a way, it's very similar to the situation in Afghanistan with respect to the attitude and interests of Pakistan. Their interests are not our own, and they don't consider the Taliban to be the "real problem" in the region. Granted, Turkey is not suppor
        • At some point Turkey will overplay its hand. The US and Europe have been forced to tolerate Turkey's double-dealing for some time, but as there is growing accord between the US, Europe and Russia on dealing with ISIS, Turkey's actions are going to see it increasingly isolated. If one of the end results of defeating ISIS is that Russia gains the right of a perpetual warm water port in Syria recognized by the US, then Turkey's place in NATO and as a US ally will be called into question. This downing of a Russ

        • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:24AM (#50994127)

          Turkey doesn't like ISIS

          Bullshit. The western friendly Turkey as reformed by Ataturk is long gone. Erdogan's Turkey of today is being lurched back in the medeival Islamist totalitarian direction, and mark well that he was popularly elected. Turkey now sees everything through Moslem colored glasses. It has no problem with ISIS at all.

          You are right that Turkey hates Kurds with a vengeance.

    • Exactly (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:45AM (#50993811)

      This

      We have an opportunity to forge an alliance between former enemies. The only reason the USSR and America were adversaries was the conflict over economic systems. that conflict no longer exists. Russia us just as capitalistic as the West, albeit a but more crude about it. But the point is that we have no reason to automatically line up against then anymore.

      We have an opportunity to create a partnership that exceeds Nato and present a united front against Islamic Radicalism. This means not only immolating ISIS terrorists, but also, diplomatically confronting the bigger players in the Mideast that are the ones actually fueling his kind of crap with their fundamentalist nonsense. We could force them all to clean up their act, and reform Islam.

      Of course, the US will need to stop supporting "moderates", mostly because there is no such thing.

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        This is a very good point. Much of the mess that is the Middle East is because these despots manged to enrich themselves playing NATO against the USSR for decades. They knew perfectly well any attempt to sort them out would have been seen as an act of aggression by the other world power. That provided them with cover to run their little shit stands, and get all sorts of cool toys (fancy high tech weapons systems).

        If we could get past or conflict narrative with Russia we could re-draw the boarders agree o

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        The only reason the USSR and America were adversaries was the conflict over economic systems. that conflict no longer exists.

        Hardly. Russia and USA are adversaries over economic *power* not systems and will be in the forseeable future. They are still economic adversaries even though the economic systems have changed.

        However, they are unlikely to be closer to the USA than China because the USA would like to keep China adversary closer (because they are a bigger economic threat).

        To conflict over economic systems is a lark. Regardless of the system, it's all about economic power.

        On the other hand, the USA conflict with Cuba is ab

    • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:54AM (#50993901) Journal

      U.S., Iran, Turkey, Assad, Russia. All hate ISIS. All have an interest in destroying the ISIS "caliphate."

      Can't stop fighting among themselves for even a minute to even consider an alliance.

      Meanwhile, ISIS just slips across some other border that the side who happens to be fighting them at that moment can't cross.

      Bullshit - Turkey has been supporting ISIS in many ways, including logistics, since the beginning. This includes free passage for ISIS fighters while blocking the passage of anti-ISIS forces. Turkey is also acting as a de-facto air force for ISIS, by bombing their most successful adversary, the Kurdish forces in Syria.

    • The Daesh are not winning anything by any stretch of imagination. They are a pathetically weak force that could be defeated in a very short time by any modern military. The sad fact is, however, that they will never be defeated without a substantial number of foreign troops on the ground in the current situation, because Assad's troops are too weak and the rest is even weaker.

  • Sure Russia won't deliberately shoot down a Turkish jet and risk war with NATO. But an "accident" just might happen.
    • Or they provide Kurds with ample amounts of air defence weapons, and Turkish air campaign "against ISIS" could start suffering casualties...

      Now, how does Greece react to the new rules Turkey has regarding her air space violations? Pretty soon the re will be neither Turkish nor Greece Air Force.
      • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:31AM (#50993685) Homepage

        I don't think Russia is so much of an idiot as to give the Kurds anti-aircraft systems. Because Turkey would respond by giving the FSA anti-aircraft systems. Which would be far more devastating due to how close the Russian airbase near Latakia is to opposition troops and how Russia's been focusing so much on close air support, as well as the ratios of assets in the region that could be employed if necessary (Turkey and the other coalition states have far, far more)

        Russia's also at real risk of facing a heavy dose of irony. As the battle front has spread deeper into Latakia (yes, Russia/Iran/Hezbollah/Assad has lost ground in Assad's heartland since the Russian/Iranian surge) it's increasingly violent in Jabal al-Turkuman, aka the Turkman Mountains, aka an area to a large indigenous Turkic population. The Russian strikes there have stirred up anger in Turkey (probably no doubt a contributor to Turkey being a bit more trigger-happy on their antiaircraft missiles than usual), and in recent days pictures have started emerging of members of far-right parties in Turkeys that have crossed over to Syria and taken up arms. This has the potential to involve into a mirror of the situation in Donbas.

        BTW, and back to the original topic - why are so few people covering the helicopter downing in Syria? Look it up: one of the helicopters in Latakia on search and rescue mission for the plane crew went down. The rebels say that they hit it with a TOW. Russia says that it underwent a "hard landing", but that the crew is okay.

        Oh, and we still have Israel continuing to be a wildcard, having launched several strikes inside Syria again just the other day, in the heels of last week's attack on the Damascus airport. They seem determined to stop Iran and Russia from transferring advanced weapons to Hezbollah at any cost.

        • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:42AM (#50993783) Homepage

          Oh hey, speak of the devil, they just released a video of the hitting of the helicopter: link [youtube.com] "Hard landing" my arse.

          They'd really be nowhere today if it wasn't for those TOWs. They film every attack - footage and return of the tubes is apparently part of the deal to get more, to prevent them from stockpiling them or transferring them to other militias, so there's a couple new videos put out every day. Saudi Arabia reportedly purchased 13k of them from the US which it routes through Turkey in batches of a couple hundred at a time.

    • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:42PM (#50996463)

      Honestly, Turkey doesn't belong in NATO any more. NATO too needs to redefine its mission, or dissolve quietly. It's now nearing 25 years since the Cold War ended, and so NATO's mission needs to be redefined.

      If Communism was the enemy in the last millenium, Islam is the enemy in this one, and NATO needs to recognize that and act accordingly. If they won't do it, then it's time for them to wind up. Turkey is not going to take the side of NATO against its Muslim comrades in Syria or anywhere else. Just like they refused to let the US fly over their space during the last US invasion of Iraq. It might take the side of the Saudis in an Islamic campaign somewhere, but that's it.

  • Sigh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:07AM (#50993499) Homepage

    It makes me sick to see the phrase, "Western-backed rebel forces". These are Islamists. When Russia says they're only going after the terrorists, they aren't lying. See, there aren't two sides in Syria's civil war, there are three (major ones). There is Assad's government, who represent a minority that would get massacred if they ever lose power (Russia is backing them), the Islamist rebels (we're backing them *puke*), and ISIS (against everyone). There aren't any good guys. The Syrians who want Western democracy? Laughable.

    It continues to amaze me, year after year, all the journalists who simply do not comprehend that there are three (major) sides in the battle. When Russia bombs the Islamists, this is nothing more than a proxy war. Putin thinks Obama is finished, weak, and America is ready to be swept aside. This is all Obama's own fault, of course, for his miserable failure during the Syrian nerve gas crisis of 2013. His "red line" was shown to be nothing that anyone need be afraid of. Russia saw weakness and swooped in. According to Putin, this was America's "Suez Moment" and without it Russia would today not be in the civil war and NATO wouldn't have just shot down one of their aircraft.

    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Informative)

      by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:42AM (#50993785)
      Umm, we're backing the Kurds. Who are NOT "Islamist"....
    • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tigersha ( 151319 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:52AM (#50993889) Homepage

      Not true, there are lots of Syrians who want Western Democracy.
      The problem is, they are all leaving to live in a actual western democracy.

      Which leaves Syria with the rest.

    • Re:Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

      by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @01:10PM (#50995125)

      There aren't any good guys. The Syrians who want Western democracy? Laughable

      This is wrong at best, and bordering on malicious. You only have to hop on Twitter and follow a few Syrian accounts to see the truth, in all its complexity.

      Even saying there are three sides is a vast oversimplification. The simplest way to explain it is that most of Syria has decided that Assad is no longer an acceptable ruler. Other than that, everything is a dizzying array of faction. The two biggest factions are those who disagree and want Assad to stay on, and ISIS. That still leaves out most of Syria though, and that vast swath of people is not united on anything other than that Assad doesn't rule them.

      Are some of those people Islamists? You betcha. Some are also supporters of democracy. Some are ethnic separatists. The ones fighting ISIS most effectively right now are Kurds. Some are Turkish clients, and fight Kurds more than ISIS. Some are just psychpaths who like having guns and shooting people. And lots and lots of people just want to live their lives free of fear, and don't really give much of a crap about politics outside of that (just like here in the US).

  • Some innacuraties (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Voice of satan ( 1553177 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:13AM (#50993551)

    No Mig-29 has ever locked a Turkish plane in the region. The Russians have none there. A F-16's RWR (Radio Warning Reciever) cannot distinguish easily between a MiG-29 or Su-30 or Su-27 radar.

    According to the data the Turks themselves have provided, the Russian plane was in Syria save for a very brief instant (5-20 seconds depending the airspeed of the Su-24). This is normal in operations. Small strays at the bad side of a border are common and are not worthy of an incident. If the Su-24 had been in a straight line towards the deep inside of Turkey then it should have been intercepted -not shot down- and either escorted outside of the airspace or sternly asked to land on some Turkish military airfield pending diplomatic exchange between the two nations.

    And you don't "warn multiple times" a plane in 20 seconds.

    The Turks are clearly looking for war with Russia for whatever reason. Or their political leaders do not realise Russia is not Armenia and they are going to react. They will think it trough but it won't be pretty.

    Until now, if you watch the images of Russian planes in Syria, you see they fly with old air-air missiles (R-27s) which show they didn't really expect anyone would be dumb enough to start a fight with them. That is going to change.

    I hope NATO will stay out of this. If they start a WW3, I desert. I won't fight or even pay taxes for islamists.

  • There's an old curse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:17AM (#50993577) Homepage

    There's an old curse that seems relevant: "May you live in interesting times." Times are certainly interesting. At this point, it seems like some sort of full-scale war between NATO and Russia is more likely now than it has been any time since the 1980s (granted then it would have been NATO against the USSR but the basic point is the same). Worse, at least historically the military and diplomats spent much of their time making sure that things didn't spiral out of control. Without the Cold War feeling, people may feel less of a need to guard against such issues. Worse, Russian military doctrine currently describes a limited nuclear strike on conventional military targets as a de-escalation http://thebulletin.org/why-russia-calls-limited-nuclear-strike-de-escalation [thebulletin.org] . While in official documents they reserve that terminology for using nuclear weapons to handle direct conventional military attacks on Russia itself, one finds very worrying the level of doublethink where one describes being the first to use nukes as de-escalating a situation.

    During the Cold War, one popular explanation for the Fermi paradox https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox [wikipedia.org], the apparent lack of highly advanced civilizations in the universe, was that species end up blowing themselves up. For most of my life, this belief looked almost quaint but it is not looking disturbingly likely. At this point, the evidence for some sort of serious barrier to civilizations emerging substantially is much stronger than it was a few decades ago. The apparent lack of K3 or K2.5 civilizations is at this point substantially robust https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kardashev_scale [wikipedia.org] with around 100,000 galaxies searched and almost no sign of any civilization using a substantial fraction of its galactic energy output http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/alien-supercivilizations-absent-from-100-000-nearby-galaxies/ [scientificamerican.com]. With this return to Cold War norms, it looks like we need to not only take seriously that there's a Great Filter, but that the Filter might be nuclear war. That's especially the case because a nuclear war does not need to kill every member of the civilization to completely destroy any hope of a technologically advanced civilization. If not enough natural resources have been consumed by the civilization (e.g. the easily accessible coal and oil) then even if the species survives it may not have the ability to reboot itself to a high tech level since getting to a high tech level may actually require access to these resources (in which case one gets essentially one chance to get to be a high tech civilization).

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:38AM (#50993741)

      There's an old curse that seems relevant: "May you live in interesting times." Times are certainly interesting. At this point, it seems like some sort of full-scale war between NATO and Russia is more likely now than it has been any time since the 1980s (granted then it would have been NATO against the USSR but the basic point is the same).

      This depends on who Russia focuses on as responsible, and how exactly they retaliate. Right now Putin is focusing mostly on Turkey and says it will hurt their "relationship". This could be something as small as a diplomatic tiff, maybe expel a diplomat or two; they could impose some kind of economic sanctions on them (not sure what the level of trade or cooperation there is between Russia and Turkey); or, most severely, retaliate in kind. Any kind of overt military action would be very dangerous as Turkey could immediately call in NATO for assistance. Russia doesn't want this, Putin certainly doesn't want this. He doesn't need war between Russia and the West, he just needs the relationship to be hostile enough to maintain his domestic support. The next few days will be very interesting to watch.

    • During the height of the cold war a full out exchange would have resulted in billions of survivors.

      http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/82j... [bmartin.cc]

  • by Kevin by the Beach ( 3600539 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:22AM (#50993607) Homepage

    Almost 50% (content varies) of ISIS/ISIL are former Ba'athist that we paid not to fight against us in post Saddam Iraq.

    Like that was a great idea!

  • by Voice of satan ( 1553177 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:25AM (#50993639)

    There are no "moderate" rebels.

    They are islamists. The only "moderates" are in hotels in Turkey; They have no power and are nicknamed the "five star opposition" because of the five star hotels they live in. For the Russians, a beardie is a beardie.

    There is neither "the Russians are bombing moderates while they promised to bomb DAESH" They said form the start there were no moderate islamists and even joked they bombed moderate islamists with moderated bombs "which have more pleasant colors".

    Turkey and Saudi Arabia are backing Al Nosra which is a local branch of Al Quaeda. And UK and particularly France with that idiot Laurent Fabius timidly backs them to please the Gulf states so they buy them weapons. Airplanes in particular. Against the advices of their own military. It is changing but slowly.

  • Flight radar track (Score:3, Informative)

    by tiagosousa ( 1931172 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @10:46AM (#50993831) Homepage
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:06AM (#50993989)

    The Russians won't do anything to retaliate. I have a healthy respect for Russia and most people should. I grew up during the Cold War not too far from the former Soviet Union. I used to watch the Soviet submarines off the coast when I was a teenager. They would surface occasionally. My father purchased a powerful maritime telescope for my brother and I to see them better when they did surface. Once, a submarine surfaced and broadcasted an emergency. One of the crew suffered a burst appendix. Our guys sent out a helicopter and collected him and took him to hospital where he stayed for two day's time. The submarine waited off the coast, but was joined by 24 hour patrol helicopters and a frigate escort. This was 1983.

    The Russians are good people, their military is very capable, and while some of their equipment might be a generation or so behind the West, make no mistakes in thinking this limits them. Russia and Putin have something the West doesn't have at present: will and intent. It doesn't matter why Russia is in Syria, although to my estimation, they are protecting their oil and gas pipeline interests (present and future) through Iran to Syria.

    I rather admire Vladimir Putin for his nationalism and his refusal to play nice with islamists. His duty is to kill them and that he will do. Unlike the West, Russia is actually killing ISIS and other islamists and this is to be praised.

  • by danbob999 ( 2490674 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @11:15AM (#50994035)

    It's not as if we are ever going to learn the truth in these kinds of "incidents". Russia will say they were in Syria, Turkey will say they were in Turkey.
    However this time since the pilot parachuted in Syria, and got captured by rebels, I tend to believe the Russian story. If the plane was shot down in Turkey, the Turkish army would have recovered the pilot, isn't it?

  • by jd.schmidt ( 919212 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @01:31PM (#50995351)
    First off, Turkey shot down this plane for reasons important to Turkey. The plane may well have crossed into Turkey, though it sounds like it flew over a spit of land on an irregular boarder area, but the Turkish air force pursued it and shot it down over Syria, that is blatantly clear by where it crashed. Sure they "warned" the plane, for 5 whole minutes, but they obviously had the aircraft right there with the finger on the trigger and at the time of the shooting the plane would have been in Syria. Turkey was looking for an excuse an got one. The reason the plane was so easy to down was because the pilot didn't expect them to shoot. The reason for the attack is Turkey is trying to make it as difficult as possible for Russia to use it's air power, not because anyone legitimately thought Turkish forces or civilians were in serious danger. Had Russia actually been dropping bombs in Turkey, that would be a different matter and there would be undeniable proof. If our top priority was to stop ISIS, we would support Assad and simply do our best to make the support conditional on reforms. He clearly only wants to stay in power and has already agreed to any number of reforms. This isn't to say that Assad is a good guy, but rather a statement that our so called allies in the area are pretty weak to non existent. Plus, at the end of the day I don't know that their priorities really match ours, all we really know about them is they aren't Assad and they aren't ISIS. So why are we doing this? This is feeling more like a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia, and less like anyone actually cares about ISIS one way or the other. We aren't going to bomb our way to peace over there, making the war last longer is going to create more terrorists, not less. I don't know what they will call themselves, but I know we are just going to create more people with a grudge against the West, and I suppose Russia as well.
  • by crackspackle ( 759472 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @02:26PM (#50995823)
    The shot down the plane not even 1 km inside their border. A fighter jet would be flying casually at 600 Mph, around 900 feet per second or roughly 1 km every four seconds; yet,, the Turks were supposedly warning them for five minutes. And then they shoot them down for stepping an inch into their front lawn? Did they want to start a war or were they trying to protect. whomever Russia was after?
  • by Radical Moderate ( 563286 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2015 @03:20PM (#50996295)
    ....Turkey shoots you for Thanksgiving!

    Honestly, 325 posts and nobody pulled this out?

All extremists should be taken out and shot.

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