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June 24, 2012 12:46 am

Thoughts on the Syrian Downing of a Turkish Warplane

avatar by Daniel Pipes

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A Turkish F-4.

There appears to be agreement on the basic facts: a Turkish F-4 violated Syrian airspace and the Syrian military shot it down over its territorial waters. Further, there is no dispute that the AKP-led Turkish government has for months offered sanctuary and armed the Syrian opposition forces in what amounts to a civil war in Syria between a hideous, brutal tyranny and an increasingly Islamist opposition. The Turkish leadership, even while accepting that its plane violated Syrian airspace, is growling about retaliation. The Syrian government has done its best to tamp down Turkish anger.

How should Western states respond to this crisis between Ankara and Damascus, one which has the potential to grow into a war between two states? More specifically, what if the Republic of Turkey invokes Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which in the case of “an armed attack against one or more of them … 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 … such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force”?

Because both sides in the Syrian conflict represent hideous alternatives, I argue that Western governments should stay out. I repeat that, with all the greater urgency, during this crisis. The West has no interest in supporting an aggressive Turkish government; quite the contrary, it needs to send Erdoğan & Co. a clear signal rejecting their bellicose and quasi-rogue foreign policy. As for Article 5, it’s clearly inoperative here, what with the recent history of Turkish aggression against Syria, culminating in the warplane’s intrusion. Again, stay out. (June 23, 2012)

Originally posted on National Review.

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  • Braham Finestone

    Personally I feel the time has arrived where Syria has to be reigned in on attacking its neighbours with such force. Admittedly the Turkish jet invaded Syrian airspace for a very short time and had no intention to create any havoc, it immediately turned back and was in no mansland when it was shot down. This is surely an act of war and Turkey has every right to invoke Article 5. Remember Turkey is (or was) neutral until she was dragged in to this dispute and whatever any other country thinks her neighbours on both sides represent a severe threat to Turkey.
    The Greeks want to find an excuse, albeit by minority extremists to lay claim once again to Istanbul and the Syrians would be happy to drag Turkey in to its Civil war and make even more of a catastrophe on Israels borders. To say that other NATO allies should stand by and watch is by any other word, negligent.

  • Braham Finestone

    Personally I feel the time has arrived where Syria has to be reigned in on attacking its neighbours with such force. Admittedly the Turkish jet invaded Syrian airspace for a very short time and had no intention to create any havoc, it immediately turned back and was in no mansland when it was shot down. This is surely an act of war and Turkey has every right to invoke Article 5. Remember Turkey is (or was) neutral until she was dragged in to this dispute and whatever any other country thinksher neighbours on both sides represent a severe threat to Turkey.
    The Greeks want to find an excuse, albeit by minority extremists to lay claim once again to Istanbul and the Syrians would be happy to drag Turkey in to its Civil war and make even more of a catastrophe on Israels borders. To say that other NATO allies should stand by and watch is by any other word, negligent.

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