Turkey engages in reckless civilian air heist

Turkey engages in reckless civilian air heist

The rogue states conducting a criminal war of aggression against Syria went a step further in their roguery this week with the de facto hijacking of a civilian airliner.

It must have been a terrifying ordeal for the crew and passengers on board the Syrian Airlines’ Airbus A-320 en route from Moscow to Damascus. Somewhere over Turkish airspace, two Turk F16 fighter jets intercepted the airplane while making a normal scheduled flight to its destination on Wednesday night. One can only imagine the distress caused to those on board, including women and children, when they were suddenly informed that their aircraft was being commandeered by warplanes to make a forced landing at Ankara.

In the era of 9/11 state-engineered terrorism, their hearts and minds must have been pounding from fear.

The passengers and crew then had to wait eight hours in Ankara before being allowed to continue on their lawful way to Damascus. Those on board included 17 Russian citizens. During their enforced stay on Turkish territory, Russian officials were denied diplomatic contact with their citizens – in contravention of bilateral consular agreements.

Both Russia and Syria have reacted furiously to this infringement of sovereignty and civilian aviation laws. Damascus has denounced the maneuver as “an act of piracy” while Moscow has complained that its citizens’ lives were put at risk by such reckless Turkish action.

The Ankara government is claiming that it received information that the airliner was carrying “certain equipment in breach of civil aviation rules”. It better do better than that. This is setting a precedent for aviation mayhem and chaos when a government arrogates the right to scramble fighter jets against civilian airlines on the sole basis of politically motivated suspicion.

Playing to the gallery, Turkey’s foreign minister had, uncannily, his script ready while on an official visit to Athens. Laying on the melodramatics with a trowel, Ahmet Davutoglu said, “We are determined to control weapons transfers to a regime that carries out such brutal massacres against civilians. It is unacceptable that such a transfer is made using our airspace.”

Note how Davutoglu had concluded before any investigation had taken place that there were weapons on board. As it turns out, after eight hours of searching the cargo and several more hours to concoct something credible, the Turkish authorities have not been able to provide any substantial justification for their midair heist of this civilian airliner.

The best story that the Turkish officials have come up with so far is that they found “objectionable materials that were not on the flight manifest”. What is that supposed to mean? Did they find a few boiled sweets that a baggage handler had dropped while stowing the suitcases?

No wonder Moscow is fuming and demanding that Turkey provides clarification and reasons for such grave intrusion. A Russian state military export source told Reuters that there is no way any military-related equipment or components was on the flight. Furthermore, the source added that if Russia were supplying weapons it would do so through normal military transport channels and not put civilian lives at risk. Russia, and indeed even the UN, does not have a weapons embargo on Syria. So it is crass to think that Russia would indulge in such tawdry smuggling. This innuendo put out by Turkey says more about the mendacity and treachery of Turkish official mindset than anything else.

But let’s put the incident into proper context. For 19 months, Turkey and other foreign powers, including the US, Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel, have been conducting a covert war of aggression against Syria. These lawless powers have been funding, arming, training and directing mercenary killers to wreak mass murder and havoc on Syrian society – to carry out “brutal massacres of civilians” as the dramatic Davutoglu puts it.

This axis of rogue states has committed multiple war crimes in their objective of destabilizing a sovereign country to implement its agenda of regime change. And this criminal agenda of war is not just confined to Syria. It is about plunging the entire region into a sectarian bloodbath of Christian against Muslim, Sunni against Shia, Arab against Persian – all for the sake of extending hegemonic control for these powers over the perceived rivals of Iran, Russia and China.

It is ludicrous and insulting that this week the UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon should make the demand on Syria to call a unilateral ceasefire yet he says nothing of importance against those powers mentioned above that are supplying weapons and funds to fuel the conflict to destroy Syria. Can you imagine the response Ban would receive from the US or Britain if those powers were trying to crush foreign-backed insurgents and he made such a vapid demand? Or why doesn’t he exhort Ankara to lay down its arms in face of the PKK Kurdish separatists?

Also earlier this week, Ban praised France’s President Francois Hollande for his efforts over Syria and said that they were “trying their best to bring about peace”. These people must be amazingly good actors or amazingly stupid. France and Turkey are top protagonists in the axis of rogue powers trying their best to destroy Syria with illicit arms supplies. Turkey’s own nationals and military officers are illegally present on Syrian territory waging a campaign of terror.

For the past week, Turkish army military have been bombarding Syrian border areas allegedly in response to the tragic death of a Turkish family in the town of Akcakale. The family was killed by a mortar shell that allegedly came from the Syrian side of the border. The Syrians are investigating the source of the mortar. Given that the border area is saturated with terrorist mercenaries that Turkey is providing safe haven to it is entirely plausible that these groups may have fired the shell, or that the Syrian army was legitimately returning fire. But just like the latest civilian airline interception, Turkey responds with a rashness that betrays a preconceived response regardless of legality. In the process, Turkey seems willing to ignite an all-out war and risk the lives of civilians.

In concert with violence and bloodshed, the rogue axis has also moved to sanction and isolate Syria – a country that is under foreign aggression – to add further misery and hardship on civilians facing a second winter of conflict.

The rogue powers have attacked Syrian state broadcasters and media by removing them from Arab satellite services across the region. The Western and Arab monarchy-backed news media have demonized and dehumanized the country. Just this week Qatari Al Jazeera ran a confession story of a supposed Syrian defector who claimed the Assad government in Syria was staging massacres against its own people for propaganda purposes.

In addition to the blockade on a sovereign state’s media and communications – a war crime – the rogue powers are supporting a campaign of assassination on Syrian journalists who are providing critical information exposing the foreign-backed terror. Some 20 journalists, including Press TV correspondent Maya Naser, have been killed so far.

Now, it seems, the illegal embargo on Syria is being extended to civilian aviation. The Turkish authorities say that they will target more flights from Russia to Syria, and by implication from other destinations. This threat of legalized hijacking is not some kind of security measure, as Ankara claims. That is a preposterous contradiction. Rather, it should be seen as part of an ongoing campaign of covert war on Syria by an axis of rogue powers.


Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Many of his recent articles appear on the renowned Canadian-based news website Globalresearch. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He specialises in Middle East and East Africa issues and has also given several American radio interviews as well as TV interviews on Press TV and Russia Today. His interests include capitalism, imperialism and war, socialism, justice and peace, agriculture and trade policy, ecological impact, science and technology, and human rights. He is also a musician and songwriter. Previously, he was based in Bahrain and witnessed the political upheavals in the Persian Gulf kingdom during 2011 as well as the subsequent Saudi-led brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protests. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted many human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. For many years, he worked as an editor and writer in the mainstream media, including ,The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now based in East Africa where is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring. More Press TV articles by Finian Cunningham

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