Statesmanship needed

Nov 25,2015 – JORDAN TIMES – Editorial

The shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkish warplanes along the Syrian-Turkish border on Tuesday shows how fragile peace and security in the region are.

Ankara said that the Russian SU-24 had crossed into Turkish airspace many times and had been warned repeatedly to stay clear of its sky.

Russia maintained that the downed plane never crossed into Turkish airspace and, in fact, crashed over Syrian territory.

What counts most now is the fact that a Russian airplane was shot down by Turkish F-16 fighter planes and such incidents can easily escalate into a wider military conflict involving not only Moscow and Ankara, but the latter’s NATO allies as well, unless serious statesmanship prevails.

The root cause of the ongoing friction between Daesh’s enemies is the strategic difference between the coalition, led by the US and comprising no less than 65 nations, on the one hand, and Russia and Iran, on the other, on where the priority should lie in the fight against Daesh.

While Moscow seems to cling to its stance that it should prop up the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad at all cost and simultaneously with its war effort against Daesh and the other forces opposed to the Syrian leader, the US and its Western allies seem to consider it important to regard the war effort against Daesh and the support to the anti-Assad moderate forces as a priority that, they hope, will lay the groundwork for the promised transition period in Syria.

Until this divide can be bridged, international efforts to combat terrorism in the region risk further derailment and could even fail.

It should not take too much for the two sides to bridge their differences on what comes first in the fight against terrorism, especially knowing that agreement will help avoid further escalation between them.

After all, the goal is one and it should not be lost from sight: the destruction of Daesh and all the terror it spreads.

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