This morning the worst fears of many came true – a Russian fighter jet was shot down by NATO forces at the Syrian border. What exactly happened to the jet is not entirely clear. According to Turkey, it was shot down by their fighters in Turkish airspace after being warned numerous times. According to Russia, it was shot down 4km inside Syrian territory. Most indications are, however, that the Russian jet was inside Turkish territory for a very short time, and was leaving when shot down.
While the pilots managed to bail out, they apparently landed within rebel territory in Syria, and one rebel group has posted footage allegedly showing that one of the pilots was dead when he hit the ground. President Putin has already responded, calling it “a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists”, and saying there will be serious consequences for the relationship with Turkey. So what will happen next? Here are a few scenarios: Continue reading
More than a year after Islamic State took over Mosul it is easy to get used to the fact that one of the most violent, extreme and expansionist theocracies in modern history rules over 10 million people. Today I’ve collected four different articles from this week that in some way relate to the rise of IS and its horrifying treatment of its ‘citizens’. Continue reading
You might be surprised to look at any news website today and notice that one of the biggest headlines is that the Pope has called the killings of Armenians one hundred year ago ‘genocide’. He made the statement at a service in the Vatican, attended by the Armenian President and members of the Armenian Catholic Church. It seems like a non-story at first glance, the deaths of around 1.5 million Armenians would seem like genocide. The reason that it’s in the news this much though is because Turkey has already reacted angrily to his statement. So what really happened back in 1915? Why is it still such an issue for Turkey? And what does it say about that tricky word ‘genocide’? Continue reading
Last night Turkey invaded Syria – for a little while anyway. The Turkish army crossed the border with hundreds of troops and armoured vehicles, rolling through Kurdish and Islamic State territory. Their target – The Tomb of Suleyman Shah. So why did the Turks launch this sudden mission in force? What is the tomb? And what does this say about the state of Syria? Continue reading
As the week goes on, the situation in the northern Syrian city of Kobane gets worse and worse. The Kurdish city, directly on the border with Turkey, is surrounded by Islamic State forces who are pressing its defenders fiercely. IS holds the hills around Kobane, and is able to shell the city with ease. The battle rages while US warplanes circle overhead, and Turkish tanks watch from across the border. So why is Kobane so important? What are the Turks waiting for? And what does that say about Turkey’s role in the region? Continue reading