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Analysis: Preventing World War Three in Syria between Turkey and Russia

  •  France, Russia eyeing united front against ISIS
  •  Putin imposes sanctions, says country ‘fully mobilized’ to tackle threats from Turkey



NATO entered uncharted territory on Tuesday when one of its members, Turkey, shot down a Russian warplane. There is an urgent need for Washington to bring both sides together to avoid World War Three.

Details are still emerging to corroborate Ankara’s insistence that the jet had been repeatedly warned and violated Turkish airspace near its border with Syria. What is clear is that this incident has been a long-time in the making given the precipitous build-up between Ankara and Moscow over conflicting Syria policies. Since Russia started flying its warplanes over Syria in support of Assad, it has repeatedly violated Turkish airspace.

Despite hopes of a “grand coalition” forming in the wake of the Ankara, Sinai, and Paris bombings claimed by the so-called Islamic State, now there is an urgent need for de-escalation to salvage what little is left of peace and stability in the Middle East.

Moscow’s immediate accusations of Ankara’s “back-stabbing” and support for Islamic State followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warnings of “serious consequences,” highlight just how high the stakes in Syria are for all parties involved. Hopes that the spillover effects from Syria could be contained are now dashed.

Turkey’s support of their ethnic brethren, the Turkmen of the northern Syrian region where the Russian pilots likely ejected, will only further complicate the situation on the ground. Given the fissures among the Kurds, Islamists, and rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian supported forces, there is no hope of victory on the ground. To avoid further confrontation in the air and to prevent Russia from any retaliatory action, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must re-affirm its support of Turkey and call for an immediate no-fly moratorium over Syria.

America’s unique role as mediator between its transatlantic allies in Ankara and rivals in Moscow has never been timelier. Many in Washington


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