Efforts to build a coordinated international front to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) are compounded by the Turkish downing of a Russian military jet and the death of at least one Russian pilot at the hands of rebels opposed to Assad’s Syrian government. This serious incident must be resolved as soon as possible by the governments of Ankara and Moscow, so we can continue with the idea of jointly eliminate the group behind the attacks that have left hundreds of killed in Egypt, Lebanon and Paris.
According to reports, the entry of Russian planes bombing positions on the north of Syria within the Turkish airspace has been a problem for some time. In this case, Turkish authorities claim to have warned the plane 10 times about its position before shooting it down. Later on, Turkmen rebels – Syrians of Turkish origin who have been already bombed by the Russians for their support for Bashar Al Assad – shot the pilots while parachuting.
The Syrian situation is confusing. Amidst the rivaling religious factions are the opposing geopolitical interests of Russia and the United States about Assad’s future. At the same time, all of them are united by the common enemy that is ISIS, which has shown capable of downing a Russian passenger plane as well as to stage multiple attacks in Paris, and to paralyze for days a city like Brussels.
Now it’s the task of French president François Hollande to convince Russian president Vladimir Putin to join the common front against ISIS in this delicate moment. The fact that Turkey belongs to the NATO military alliance only increases Putin’s distrust towards the West, as it sees NATO as a permanent threat over Russia, which justifies his Ukraine intervention.
This new incident puts to test the already tense relations between Russia on the one hand, and the United States and Europe on the other. We hope those tensions will be overcome so it is possible to coordinate a joint strategy against ISIS. The only beneficiary will be the Islamic State if a collaboration to defeat it is not achieved between all of those harmed by their terrorist actions.