Turkey has called a meeting of NATO member states to discuss their response as one of Turkey’s jets was downed by Syria.
What to expect fromm NATO? The article 5 will be hardly invoked, bur can we expect some escalation or not, and why?
Joshua Walker, Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States
I think the fact Turkey called a meeting of NATO is to be expected since it did not want to deal with the situation by itself and internationalizing the incident as soon as possible fits with the government’s approach to Syria in general. I think there will be a lot more rhetoric from NATO about the incident, similar to Clinton’s condemnation of the firing, but not much more action like you said invoking Article 5 seems unlikely. It is more precautionary at this point. My sense is that Ankara wants to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. The details of the F4 crossing into Syrian territory are hazy at best, so I think at this point Turkey would like an apology and to use this as a chance to be a mediator again whereas some NATO countries if they had political will might want to use this to push for a larger role, but there doesn’t seem to be any international appetite anywhere for this. So I don’t expect an escalation of action, but rather of rhetoric. However there are always unintended consequences so lets see what happens and how the international community acts.
Bill Park, Senior Lecturer, Department of Defence Studies, King’s College, London University
It is a difficult issue for Turkey to deal with. There seems no doubt that the plane was in Syrian airspace. This happens regularly, across all borders – not least Turkey’s, which experiences many such ‘violations’. So it need not have created a crisis. Either the plane was doing something it should not have been doing, which I think is unlikely but one never knows. Or, the Syrian air defences acted in a trigger happy and unprofessional way, which I think is far more likely than any deliberate challenge to Turkey unless the Turkish plane was doing something it should not have been.
In normal circumstances, if such an incident were to happen at all, the Syrians would apologise and/or the Turks would claim compensation. there would also be – and there will be in this instance – an investigations.
Turkey’s rhetoric has been rather typically fierce, but in fact it has not acted hot-headedly and, in taking the issue to NATO and the UN, it is pursuing a diplomatic or delaying route. The NATO discussion will be based on Article 4 not 5, that is ‘consultation’ not ‘action’. Much depends on whether Turkey, and others in NATO, want to use the incident to more openly intervene in Syria. Its clear that in other ways -training the Syrian opposition fighters, facilitating their arming, providing refuge – Turkey is already involved, along with Saudi Arabia and others, probably the US. If they want to use this as a basis to make this involvement more open, or to escalate it, they will. But it seems to me that Turkey might also seek the ‘compensation’ and ‘apology’ route – Iran and perhaps Russia might try to encourage this.