It is not the first time that an unwanted incident has happened that could lead to the possible severing of strategic ties between Russia and Turkey but again the accidental killing of three Turkish soldiers in northern Syria on February 8 by a Russian airstrike did little to stop Ankara and Moscow from contacting each other. Soon after the incident, President Vladimir Putin sent condolences and Turkish authorities accepted the apology by terming it an unintentional act. The attack had targeted a building near the town of al-Bab, believing it to contain Islamic State (IS) fighters rather than Turkish troops. Poor cooperation between the military authorities of two countries is also being blamed for the accident in which 11 soldiers were also wounded.
The latest happening is part of a trail of accidents happening off and on for a couple of years. The relations became strained when Turkey downed a Russian jet near the Syrian border two years ago. Again, the murder of the Russian ambassador in Ankara didn’t derail ties. Why? The reason is simple because the two countries need each other. Turkey relies on Russia for its energy needs and cannot miss the revenue generated through Russian tourists. It also wants a buffer zone in northern Syria free of IS and the Kurdish militia that it sees as terrorists. And Russia needed Turkey - one of Assad’s fiercest opponents - to turn a blind eye to the recapture of Aleppo.
Syria has descended into a war due to the interests of stakeholder states. The main fight is between the two main parties to the conflict, i.e. the Syrian regime and the so-called “legitimate rebel groups”. In essence, it has become more than just a battle between those for or against Mr Assad. A key factor has been the intervention of regional and world powers, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States. Their military, financial and political support for the government and opposition has contributed directly to the intensification and continuation of the fighting, and turned Syria into a proxy battleground.
The uprising in Syria has become the focus of global attention and a big worry for stakeholder states. Amid the growing tension, Syrians are the ultimate sufferers. The troubled history of Syria and other Middle East states should be an eye-opener for all stakeholders as well as the Muslim world that is playing the role of a silent spectator. History shows that it is not an on-going armed conflict but a compromise that can settle all perpetual disputes. At the international level, efforts are needed to make sure that the troubled Syria does not become an ideal location for global terrorism. The solution lies in avoiding self-centred politics and working for social harmony. All forces and stakeholders should be on board and work for reaching a social compact for progress, prosperity and durable peace in the region. Unity is essential for overcoming the nefarious designs of vested interest elements. Wars, evenly or unevenly matched, yield nothing but death and devastation, the results of which are short and long term, affecting generations of a nation.