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Syria and Turkey - a step closer to conflict


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The Turkish parliament has authorised troops to cross the border into Syria if the Turkish government feels it is necessary.

This represents a distinct tightening of the finger on the trigger as far as Turkey is concerned, and I think it only needs one repetition of the incident in which two women and three children were killed in a border town by Syrian shelling for Turkey to react militarily.

NATO has condemned Syria's 'aggression' and demanded that it ceases, but Syria isn't a NATO member, and is unlikely to take any notice. Russia has simply asked the Syrian regime to acknowledge the 'tragic accident' and give an assurance it will not happen again.

A family friend is working in Ankara at the moment, and she tells me the atmosphere there is 'very tense'. She thinks the Turks would not hesitate to enter Syria if another shell falls on Turkish soil.

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Forum Editor

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Flak999

"Today the Turkish parliament has authorised troops to begin cross border action against Syrian targets."

No, it hasn't.

If you read my opening post you'll see that the Turkish parliament has authorised Turkish troops to cross the border if the Turkish government feels it is necessary.

At the moment it is not felt to be necessary, and with luck that is how things will remain.

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Flak999

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Forum Editor

The Turkish Government obviously do feel that a military response is necessary because, from the BBC:

"Turkey has been firing at targets inside Syria since Wednesday's shelling of the town of Akcakale, which killed two women and three children."

Turkey's parliament authorises military action in Syria

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Forum Editor

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Flak999

Yes, but I was talking about troops crossing the border, and that's what the Turkish parliament authorisation is about.

Turkish troops entering Syria would be a massive escalation, and that's what everyone wants to try to avoid. The parliament voted to give the authorisation now because if things go badly wrong there may not be time to have a debate. The mandate is there if the government needs it.

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morddwyd

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"so any intervention by a NATO force would be viewed as an act of interference with a sovereign state. "

Just as it was in Libya, Afghanistan and the Balkans!

Rest easy. All the arms and tactics testing we need are being carried out in Afghanistan.

No need to operate in another theatre just yet.

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Aitchbee

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I heard [on Radio4 this morning, from a BBC correspondent] that the Turkish Government are more than likely to 'sit this one out' in the belief/hope that the rebel forces, who are trying to bring about a change in the way Syria is governed, might be able to achieve this goal, and thus avoid any further military intervention from Turkey.

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Forum Editor

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morddwyd

"Just as it was in Libya, Afghanistan and the Balkans!"

You seem to have missed my comment about NATO interventions being supported by UN resolutions. There is (so far) no question of that being the case as far as Syria and Turkey are concerned. As I mentioned earlier, Turkey has a massive military superiority over Syria, and would be unlikely to require the assistance of a NATO force if it decided to cross the border.

The Turkish Prime Minister has made it quite clear that his country has no intention of initiating a conflict with Syria - we are still very much at the sword-rattling stage, and the Turkish parliament's vote was a part of all that. For Syria to deliberately provoke Turkey by a repetition of the recent incidents would be about the most foolhardy thing it could do.

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Woolwell

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Is it the Syrian government or the opposition that is provoking Turkey? It only needs one of the opposition to fire a mortar that appears to come from the government forces. It could be in the interests of the opposition to get Turkey to oppose the government by force.

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morddwyd

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"You seem to have missed my comment about NATO interventions being supported by UN resolutions"

No I didn't. I simply discounted it.

NATO is not a member of the UN, and the UN is not a member of NATO, though individual countries are, so the one can have no control over the other.

As I have posted before, NATO is supposed to be entirely defensive, pledged, and I emphasise pledged, to come to the aid of any member attacked by another state.

That was not the case in the Balkans (though I suppose Greece could have stretched the point), in Afghanistan or in Libya.

It is, however, entirely the case, albeit "accidentally", in Turkey, and if Turkey appeals for NATO intervention we, that is, all members, are bound, by international treaty, to respond.

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Forum Editor

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morddwyd

"No I didn't. I simply discounted it."

Well, perhaps you shouldn't have been in such a hurry to do that. NATO and the UN work closely together - they've been doing so for around 20 years.

I suggest you read this, taken from a NATO declaration on its role. Take special note of the comment about the UN providing a mandate:

*"UN Security Council resolutions have provided the mandate for NATO’s operations in the Western Balkans and in Afghanistan, and the framework for NATO’s training mission in Iraq. More recently, NATO’s operation to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack in Libya in 2011 was carried out in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1973. Over the years, NATO-UN cooperation has been extended beyond operations to include consultations on issues such as crisis assessment and management, civil-military cooperation, training and education, logistics, combating human trafficking, mine action, civilian capabilities, women and peace and security, arms control and non-proliferation, and the fight against terrorism. NATO and the UN agreed in 2008 to strengthen cooperation between their secretariats in order to better be able to address the complexity of today’s security challenges. This has led to regular exchanges and dialogue between staff at senior and working levels on political and operational issues, as well as the appointment of a NATO Civilian Liaison Officer to the UN Headquarters in New York."*

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Forum Editor

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"if Turkey appeals for NATO intervention we, that is, all members, are bound, by international treaty, to respond."

Yes, but Turkey hasn't made that appeal, and it will not make it, unless Syrian cross-border action escalates very considerably. The Turkish government has all it needs in the way of mandates for defensive action, and it is very capable of defending its territory against a Syrian attack without any outside help.

The one thing Turkey will avoid doing if it possibly can is ordering troops across the border. Once that happened all bets would be off, and the Turkish Prime Minister knows it. NATO is monitoring the situation, but as things stand that's all it is doing. If things go as they should there will be no further aggression by Syria. The UN Security Council has issued a condemnation of the Syrian action,and that is important. It was agreed to (after some haggling over wording) by Russia - one of Syria's allies.

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