Turkey Rules Out Immediate Retaliation Against Syria Over Jet Incident

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Marco Werman: Syrian citizens aren't the only ones in the crosshairs, so apparently is Turkey's Air Force. Syrian shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet last Friday, details are still sketchy. Turkish officials are noticeably upset, but today Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that there would be no immediate retaliatory strike against Syria.

Cenqiz Aktar is professor of Political Science at the University of Istambul. Professor Aktar can you tell us what you know at this point about the details of the downing of that Turkish jet?

Cenqiz Aktar: Well, it was on purpose, I'm afraid. And, of course, Syrians are rejecting this and saying that it was just an accident and the Turks, I think the Minister of Foreign Affairs, well, have demonstrated by "A+B" that it was downed on purpose.

Werman: Some Turkish officials say that the Turkish jet looks a lot like a Israeli jet of a similar make and there could have been a mistake.

Aktar: Well, we know that Israeli jets and fighter jets are violating the Syrian airspace probably ten times a day and we haven't heard any retaliations of the kind, since years, from the Syrian Army.

Weman: There were refugees, Syrian refugees, pouring across the Syrian border into Turkey before the jet incident, how high were tensions between Syria and Turkey?

Aktar: The tension is very high of course between the two countries. I think Syrians are pretty upset with the Turkish government, the Turkish government is hosting —openly— the Syrian opposition and Turkey is now against the Ba'ath regime and openly asking for the departure of president Assad.

Werman: So that's kind of a telling context. So why after an incident like this one, with the downing of the jet, is Turkey backing off confronting Syria?

Aktar: Well, first Turkish Army is no American or French, or British Army for foreign operations, doesn't have this sort or experience actually. And two, I mean, you don't go to invade a country because they have downed one of your surveillance jets. So, I think just, to [??] Turkish government is wisely reacting to it, bringing the issue up to NATO and the EU and, of course, at the end the UN Security Council.

Werman: What is the sentiment about this whole incident on the Turkish streets, on the streets of Istanbul? Do Turks want their government to do something about Syria?

Aktar: Not really, you know, like everywhere in the world foreign affairs are not at all of interest to the men in the street. This being said, of course, the Turkish press unfortunately is overdoing things and calling, almost openly, for a military retaliation, which is very, very irresponsible of course.

Werman: A military retaliation seems to be off the table for just about everybody, not just Turkey. No one seems to want to get involved in Syria, why is Syrian such a "no-go zone"?

Aktar: I mean, you know, he has two main backers one Russia, two Iran.

Werman: You are talking [??] about Assad.

Aktar: Exactly, I mean, it's, you know, Russia is openly backing. He has, the Russian government has a naval base in Tartus, in Syria. And Iran is a staunch ally of Syria and the Syrian regime. So I think an intervention to Syria will have dire consequences for the entire region, even the world so, I don't think the Turkish Army will ever, at all, go into Syria.

Werman: Cenqiz Aktar professor of Political Science at the University of Istanbul, thank you.