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samedi, 30 juin 2012

L’incident du F-4 vu par M K Bhadrakumar

L’incident du F-4 vu par M K Bhadrakumar

L’appréciation de l’incident du F-4 turc abattu par les Syriens, par le diplomate-devenu-commentateur, l‘Indien M K Bhadrakumar, est très intéressante, notamment à cause de ses très grandes connaissances et sources en Turquie, où il a été ambassadeur de l’Inde. M K Bhadrakumar avait déjà mis en évidence (le 30 avril 2012) les difficultés d’Erdogan avec sa politique syrienne par rapport à son opposition et à l’opinion publique. Ce facteur compte beaucoup pour l’incident du F-4, estime M K Bhadrakumar.

Les autres éléments qu’il met en évidence sont, d’une part, le jeu très appuyé de la Syrie et l’attitude extrêmement ferme de la Russie, et en constant affermissement, notamment vis-à-vis de cet incident. Pour M K Bhadrakumar, Syriens et Russes ont agi de concert, et l’incident constitue un net avertissement à la Turquie, au risque assumé d’une aggravation des relations de la Syrie avec la Turquie. De toutes les façons, pour M K Bhadrakumar, il ne semble faire guère de doute que le F-4 effectuait une mission de surveillance hors des normes internationales, et la riposte syrienne fut à mesure. M K Bhadrakumar met également en évidence que la Turquie est, dans ce jeu de la montée des tensions, assez isolée dans la région. (Son article, pour ATimes.com, est du 26 juin 2012.)

«The shooting down of a Turkish fighter aircraft by Syria on Friday has become a classic case of coercive diplomacy.

»A Turkish F-4 Phantom fighter aircraft disappeared from radar screens shortly after taking off from the Erhach airbase in Malatya province in southeastern Turkey and entered Syrian airspace. According to Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), air-defense forces shot down the plane 1 kilometer off the coast from the Syrian port city of Latakia. A Turkish search-and-rescue aircraft rushed to the area of the crash but came under Syrian fire and had to pull out.

»The Russian naval base at Tartus is only 90 kilometers by road from Latakia. The incident took place on a day that Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem was on a visit to Russia. It also happened within a week of Britain staging a high-profile publicity event to humiliate Russia by canceling the insurance of a ship when it was off the coast of Scotland en route to Syria from Russia's Baltic port in Kaliningrad. British Foreign Secretary William Hague scrambled to take credit for that in the House of Commons.

»The shooting down of the Turkish jet also coincides with a hardening of the Russian position on Syria. Moscow refused to comment on the incident when Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu telephoned his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Sunday seeking understanding. Itar-Tass quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying the two diplomats “discussed the situation around Syria, including within the context of the incident with a Turkish fighter jet”. Plainly put, Moscow was unwilling to treat Friday's incident in total isolation. Nor was it prepared to censure Damascus. […]

»It is against the totality of this background that the Syrian action against the Turkish aircraft needs to be weighed. Damascus has a reputation for “poker diplomacy”. It may have conveyed a host of signals to Turkey (and its Western allies):

»Syria's air-defense system is effective and lethal;

»There will be a price to pay if Turkey keeps escalating its interference in Syria;

»Turkey's military superiority has its limits;

»The Syrian crisis can easily flare up into a regional crisis. […]

»Davutoglu claimed that Turkey had intercepted radio communications from the Syrian side suggesting that they knew it was a Turkish aircraft. "We have both radar info and Syria's radio communications." There was no warning from Syria before the attack, he said. "The Syrians knew full well that it was a Turkish military plane and the nature of its mission.” Conceivably, Syria wanted Turkey to know that its decision to shoot down the jet was deliberate. An exacerbation of Turkish-Syrian tensions is in the cards. […]

»Knowing Erdogan's ability to whip up nationalistic sentiments, the opposition parties quickly concurred that Turkey must respond to incident. But they point out that Erdogan needlessly provoked Damascus and has destroyed Turkey's friendly ties with Syria. 

The leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdarglu, pointedly asked on Sunday after meeting with Erdogan: “Why have Turkey and Syria come to the brink of war?” The CHP's deputy head Faruk Logoglu, who is a distinguished former diplomat (ex-head of the Foreign Ministry and former ambassador to the US), said: “We are very critical of the way AKP [Erdogan's Justice and Development Party] is handling the situation. There should be no outside intervention of any sort and any intervention must be mandated by a resolution of the UN Security Council. In the absence of such a resolution, any intervention would be unlawful.”

»In short, the Turkish opposition will be free to dissociate from any response that Erdogan decides on, especially if things go haywire downstream… […]

»But the point is, even within Turkey, there is skepticism about what really happened. The veteran Turkish editor Yousuf Kanli wrote: “Did the plane violate Syrian airspace? ... On the other hand, why was the Turkish reconnaissance plane flying so low, in an area close to a Russian base, and why did it keep on going in and out of Syrian airspace so many times in the 15-minute period before it was downed? Was it testing the air-defense capabilities of Syria (or the Russian base) before an intervention which might come later this year?” […]

»[…T]he painful reality is that Turkey's most ardent allies in the present situation, who have encouraged Ankara on the path of intervention in Syria, are of absolutely no use today – Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are nowhere in a position to engage Syria militarily. Turkey, in short, is left all by itself to hit back at Syria. […] […A]ny Turkish military steps against Syria would be a highly controversial move regionally. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari (who, interestingly, visited Moscow recently for consultations over Syria) voiced the widely held regional opinion when he warned of a “spillover the crisis into neighboring countries”, including Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey itself. […]

»The influential Turkish commentator Murat Yetkin wrote on Monday, “It is clear that the incident will result in increased pressure on Syria and its supporters, mainly Russia. But what Bashar al-Assad cares for seems to be keeping his chair and the Russian naval base in Tartus strong, whatever the cost, also knowing that neither the Turkish government, nor the opposition and people, want war.” 

Yetkin was sure that “Turkey will do everything to make Syria pay for the attack”, but “payment doesn't mean war, there are other options”.

»In reality, Damascus has put a double whammy on Turkey. It not only lost a Phantom and its two pilots but is now under compulsion to take the loss calmly, exercising self-restraint. »



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