Is it a coincidence that, on the same day Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Syria a "rogue state," he had his picture taken in the cockpit of a jet?
Conceivably. The photo-op was a presumably long-scheduled promotion for Turkish Aerospace Industries. Still, here in Instanbul the juxtaposition did not go unnoticed. The front page above--from the Daily News, the English-language counterpart to Hurriyet--was typical of Turkish newspapers today. And for the last several days Turkish columnists have been pondering whether, after Syria's downing of a Turkish jet near the Syrian-Turkish border, the chances of war between the two countries have grown appreciably.
It's an important question, because in the event of sustained hostilities Turkey would likely become the leading edge of an invasion of Syria backed by various Arab states and Western powers, including America. And this would make it hard for Russia, which has a valuable naval base in Syria, to stand idly by.
The closest thing to a consensus here seems to be that the answer is yes, Turkey is closer to war, but only marginally.
The affirmative answer derives partly from Erdogan's statement that "the rules of engagement have changed" in light of the Turkish jet's downing, and that Turkey would now respond aggressively to Syrian provocations that might in the past have drawn a more measured reaction. Even leaving aside what this says about Erdogan's actual inclination, it reduces his political room for maneuvering in the event that there should indeed be another Syrian provocation.