It is, however, unacceptable that both NATO and the international community are at a standstill in the face of Damascus's brutality against its own people, resulting in the deaths of thousands, whereas NATO had been involved in the Libyan uprising, helping rebels to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi's regime.
According to one Western diplomat in Ankara, NATO and the US do not want to be involved in a conflict under any pretext mainly because of the upcoming presidential elections in the US in November and the current financial crisis in Europe, where engaging in a conflict could further complicate the economies of the European continent.
Turkey is among the countries in the region feeling the heat and frustration over the situation in Syria with the ongoing violence by Bashar al-Assad's regime while the number of refugees fleeing to Turkey has reached approximately 40,000.
Even though Turkey might have thought that the jet downing might have resulted in NATO intervening in Syria, it did not.
We now understand from a recent statement from the US that an intervention in Syria would only be likely if Syria used chemical weapons. CNN International quoted Pentagon spokesman George Little as saying last Friday that any use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a red line for the international community.
Perhaps Turkey has refrained from retaliating against Syria despite the downing of its jet out of a fear that Damascus might respond with chemical weapons. We do not know.
We do not know either if the Turkish jet was downed by a Syrian anti-aircraft gun, a missile or simply crashed when the pilots panicked and overreacted to possible incoming fire from Syrian forces.
The Turkish reconnaissance RF-4 jet, believed to be part of a fleet of 54 F-4s upgraded with electronic systems by local defense contractor ASELSAN and fitted with cameras that take pictures in real time, crashed on June 22 approximately eight-and-a-half miles off the cost of Syria in the Mediterranean. The two pilots' dead bodies and some parts of the jet's wreckage were found on July 4. It is highly possible that the jet was accompanied by another RF-4 since fighter jets fly in pairs to protect each other.
According to one scenario, the jet downed by Syrian forces was flying very fast and at a very low altitude, which triggered Syrian missile systems to go on alert, while the second jet tested how quickly Syria reacted and detected the locations of Syrian systems.
There are many questions that need to be answered to find out the truth about how the Turkish jet was downed or if it crashed by accident.
Turkey's confusing and sometimes misleading statements over the jet downing incident approximately 22 days ago add fuel to suspicions that the mission of the jet was to gather information about Syria's military reinforcements, which angered Assad's forces, prompting them to shoot down the fighter plane.
This confusion may irk the alliance, which may think Turkey used the incident to bring NATO into the Syrian conflict. But according to a NATO source whom I recently spoke with, regardless of the confusing Turkish statements made over the incident, two Turkish pilots died and a jet belonging to a NATO country was downed, which is unacceptable.
The Turkish General Staff caused further confusion when it stated on July 13 that the jet was downed by Syria by something other than anti-aircraft fire, whereas a statement it released two days earlier on July 11 stated, “Syrian officials subsequently claimed to have shot down the jet.”
The same statement released on July 11 stated that there were no indications that the jet was downed either by a missile or by an anti-aircraft gun, raising the possibility that the jet might have crashed by accident, most likely while escaping from a Syrian assault. But the statement released on July 13 stated that the jet had not been downed by an anti-aircraft gun, but did not cite any reason for this conclusion.
Speculations, not only in Turkey but also within NATO, have been mounting due to the contradictory explanations over the jet downing incident made by the military. This leads to the danger of NATO harboring doubts about whether Turkey is telling the truth concerning the incident. NATO, which has already refrained from getting involved in the Syrian conflict, may begin using Turkey's confusing stance over the issue as a pretext not to be dragged into the Syrian conflict.
Turkey appears to have played all its cards -- by overreacting to the events in Syria -- in both diplomatic and military posturing on the Syrian conflict other than invading the country. Ankara has to reconsider developing creative policies to make a U-turn from its ill-conceived policies on Syria.