Turkey-Syria: New NATO Intervention Ahead Of Chicago Summit?
On April 11 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters accompanying him to China that Turkey is considering asking the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization to invoke its Article 5 collective military assistance clause against Syria after a reported brief cross-border skirmish between Syrian military forces and what were identified as refugees, whether armed or otherwise remains unclear. Turkey unabashedly provides refuge for and, though not publicly acknowledged, assistance to thousands of Free Syrian Army fighters in its south.
The Turkish head of state insisted that "NATO has a responsibility to protect Turkish borders," in what could only be interpreted as an allusion to the military bloc's founding document provision mentioned above, the bulk of which states:
"The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them...will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area."
Turkey joined NATO along with Greece in 1952 as the culmination of the 1947 Truman Doctrine, the inauguration of which signaled the beginning of the Cold War, and after both countries served their NATO apprenticeship by supplying troops for the war in Korea.
It is the eastern-most member of the alliance, bordering Greece and Bulgaria to its northwest and Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Georgia - all potential flashpoints for future military conflicts - to its south and east.
Earlier this year the Turkish government agreed under NATO obligations to host a U.S. Forward-Based X-Band Radar as the advance guard of the Western global missile interception system being extended from Europe into the Middle East and the broader Asia-Pacific region.
According to the Zaman newspaper, Prime Minister Erdoğan also warned: "Turkey has a unique attitude; history is evidence of this. Turkey will at least take the position other countries would take in a similar situation. Syria should put itself in order. If Syria continues its violence, then, Syria should be ready to pay the consequences of this violence. Yesterday also there were armed attacks across our border with Syria. In terms of international law, it is clear what Turkey should do in terms of border violations."