By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
Today, perhaps, marks a turning point for Syria, torn by flames of war and bloodshed for almost 17 months.
NATO's governing body meets in Brussels today to discuss the Syrian downing of a Turkish plane.
Turkish officials say the jet was on a training flight Friday when it strayed into Syrian airspace, but was in international airspace when it was shot down.
The consultations will focus on article 4 of NATO's founding Washington Treaty, under which an ally can request consultations "whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened."
The wreckage of the plane was discovered in the Mediterranean on Sunday at a depth of 3,281 feet. The pilots still have not been accounted for.
The already highly explosive situation around Syria has since been more gravely aggravated.
Damascus apologized but Ankara rejected the apology and, as a NATO member-state, demanded convening the NATO Council.
One possibility cannot be ruled out that NATO will use the incident with the Turkish aircraft as a pretext for taking action against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Was this incident caused by blind chance or was it a planned operation? This is the question asked by politicians and experts all over the world.
The Syrian authorities insist that the Turkish aircraft equipped with reconnaissance devices violated their country’s air space and was shot down according to instructions given to the armed forces of any country, not only Syria. Damascus wasted no time in assuring Turkey that the actions of its air defense should not be considered a hostile step against Turkey.
Ankara’s response could be easily predicted. It accused Damascus of having violated international law and declared that the incident took place in international space. Experts are due to determine who is telling the truth. On the other hand, the incident itself gives reason to believe that it was not a shot at random.
The West and its partners, who have set their minds on deposing Bashar al-Assad, badly need a weighty precedent to go into action against Syria because they cannot reach their aim by any other means.
Russia and China, both being standing members of UN security council, consistently support the Syrian people’s right to determine their country’s future and this policy is a serious obstacle for the West.
In this context, the incident with the jet fighter of a NATO country is very timely for the international anti-Syrian coalition.
It is plausible that today’s NATO summit will probably discuss the issue of hitting Syria’s military targets.
The agonizing moment for Damascus might not last long, and further development of the situation will soon become discernable after the NATO Council session.