The downing of the Russian Su-24 fighter jet and the political implications


26/11/2015 by socialistfight


Gerry Downing 26-11-2015

Russia strongly denies any violation of Turkish airspace whatsoever and the surviving pilot has testified that they did not cross it. If we accept the validity of the Turkish map it would have taken a maximum of 20 seconds to cross what is estimated at about five kilometres of Turkish territory. How then could they have issued warnings ten times over five minutes? And the Turkish warplane would have had to get permission from its base to fire the sidewinder missiles long before it was over Turkish territory, if we accept that it did violate the airspace. Either Turkey had decided to shoot down the plane when it was about 50 miles from its own border in order to shoot it down over its territory or they shot it down after it crossed back into Syria. This is a simple analysis of the uncorroborated data supplied by Turkey itself. Moreover Turkey itself thinks nothing of violating Iraqi and Syrian airspace; they have done it several hundred times in the past months with the tacit approval of the US.

The real reason for the shooting down of the jet must be found in the overall geostrategic and political conflicts in the area. In the first place let us assert that the overall strategic orientation of US imperialism has not changed despite the obligation of the US and EU country to take cognisance of public opinion in its foreign wars adventures after Vietnam 1975 and their failure to achieve decisive results in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. Despite regime change and bombing the infrastructure of these lands back to the Middle Ages they have not managed to secure stable pro-imperialist puppet regimes. Regime change in Iraq has very frustratingly strengthened Iran, another of their targets for regime change. And they haven’t even yet managed to secure regime change in Syria.

And that remains a vital part of the strategic goal of USA foreign policy. The two major backers of ISIS and the other jihadist reactionaries like the Al Qaeda affiliate, the Al Nusrah Front have been miffed with all the talk from Secretary of State John Kerry and UK Prime Minister David Cameron about agreement with Russia. This was supposed to allow Assad to remain in power for a temporary transitional period (which obviously could be extended indefinitely) while ISIS was defeated in a joint bombing campaign and agreement was reached with the ‘moderates’ (who include the ‘moderate’ Sharia-law jihadists and the almost invisible Free Syrian Army of the Southern Front). The talk was designed to mollify domestic public opinion and allow doubting pro-imperialist politicians (remember Claire Short?) to vote for air strikes, whip up a ‘Falklands Factor’ or national chauvinism after the Paris Massacre and deal a major blow to Jeremy Corbyn at the same time.


But the contradictions were too great for the plan to work, despite the eagerness of Putin to go along with it; Russia even cited the much-loved Stalinist nostalgic epoch of gross class collaboration in the name of anti-fascism that was the WWII alliance between Joe Stalin, Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Bombing alone could not defeat ISIS, it needed ground troops and closing its supply lines from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey and economic lifeline of oil exports to Turkey. Sending in US troops in any numbers was far too politically risky; that left two forces that could conceivable do the job, the Syrian Kurds and Assad’s army.

Joe Biden latest foot-in-mouth comments could scuttle the US's plans for Syria.

The White House on Saturday October 5 said Vice President Joe Biden “apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL (IS, ISIS) or other violent extremists in Syria.”  The operative word here is “intentionally” – please note that this language does not constitute a retraction of Biden’s claims that the US’s closest Mideast allies armed and funded extremist groups in Syria.

The Syrian Kurds of the YPG and their PKK allies will not venture too far outside their own territory even as far as Raqqa. And they were politically unreliable allies, they co-operated with Assad when it suited them and they were very upset with the US for sanctioning the Turkish air strikes against them and preventing them from moving west of the Euphrates to link up with the Kurdish enclave around Afrin in the west. US bombing campaign NEVER bomb ISIS when it is fighting the Syrian army, lest it assist his survival. And only recently under pressure from public opinion generated by Russian bombing have the US begun to bomb the oil trucks taking ISIS crude to Turkey. They have justified avoided hitting these very obvious targets which would cut most of the economic lifeline for ISIS by ridiculously citing their concern for ‘civilian casualties’, who are not the dehumanising ‘collateral damage’ when it suits the western mass media. Please…

Speaking in Manila on 19 November at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit Obama made it clear that he would not end his support for the Syrian ‘rebels’ while Assad was still in power. He recognised Islamic State as a “serious threat” but Russia’s efforts in Syria were aimed at propping up Assad so that was a great problem. “Bottom line is, I do not foresee a situation in which we can end the civil war in Syria while Assad remains in power,” he said. [1]

Taken together with his support for Turkish bombing of the Kurds to keep open the ISIS crossing point at Jarabulus for their international jihadist fighters including Chechens it is clear that Obama via the CIA and Special Forces on the ground still tacitly supports ISIS, although he cannot say so publicly. And therefore all the talk of the big rifts between the US and Turkey and Saudi Arabia are just temporary problems. The downing of the war plane has gone a long way to sorting out these problems.


Turkey downed the Russian fighter jet because it was hitting the jihadist fighters who guarded the supply lines to the Al Nusrah Front here as the USA tacitly guarded the ISIS supply lines at Jarabulus. And because Russia was bombing the oil convoys to Turkey. And the US had at least tacitly indicated to that that the action was ok. Russia and Assad are being told that there is a very strict limit to ‘co-operation’.


[1] Nov 19, 2015 Obama says Syria settlement needed to eliminate Islamic State,




One thought on “The downing of the Russian Su-24 fighter jet and the political implications

  1. David Walters says:

    Actually warnings are given well in advance of a plane actually over the air space of another country. If a plane is on trajectory that would take it over said airspace, the warnings are broadcast over a 100 miles away.

    The issue is why the Russian plane was shot down. As it happens the Turks, who claim to have warned the Russian jet, did so, *maybe* but the Russian’s were not listening due to being on a different channel. Even so, sending up F-16s to shoot down a plane that for around 30 seconds was over one’s territory in a known war zone is hardly forgivable. It goes to intent and the political reason the Turkish gov’t did what it did which has, for years, taken an increasingly hostile attitude toward the Russian government.


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