10/04/2012, 00.00
TURKEY - SYRIA
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Turkish reprisals on Syrian border. Push for NATO intervention

by Nat da Polis
Representatives from Ankara warn the UN and seek military intervention of the NATO member countries. But there are those who suspect that the bombs were thrown by anti-Assad rebels to provoke war in the region.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Late yesterday afternoon the Turkish Armed Forces bombed some Syrian stations near the Turkish-Syrian border. The retaliation took place in response for the killing of five persons of Turkish nationality, a mother and her 4 children. A howitzer based in Syrian territory, hit their house in the town of Urfa Akcakale, just one kilometer from the border.

Recently, the citadel of Akcakale has frequently been hit by shells and stray bullets in gun battles between forces loyal to Assad and anti Assad rebels. But it is the first time that casualties have been registered among Turkish citizens.

Ankara's reaction has been immediate. Through its Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey informed the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who advised moderation. Davutoglu also informed the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, calling for an immediate meeting of the Council of NATO members in Brussels, invoking Article 4 of the Statute, to discuss what occurred.

Article 4 of the NATO Statute takes into account the fact that if a member state is attacked by a third country putting its integrity into jeopardy, they can count on the political and military support of member countries.

Turkey's Vice-President Bulent Arinc has said that the response of Ankara is legitimate and in accordance with international law. Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the episode is an attempt to drag and engage Turkey on the Syrian front and that Syria will have to account for their actions before the international community.

In Ankara, Erdogan has called an extraordinary meeting of his government, to consider the situation amid rumors of large deployment of Turkish troops to the Syrian border.

Various interpretations and comments from yesterday are circulating in diplomatic circles in Istanbul

On the one hand, it is said that Ankara has constantly been tempted to get involved in that area which is of increasing strategic importance for its geopolitical aspirations in the region. At the same time, through this incident, it is seeking NATO's backing for its ambitions in order to legitimize any military act. In Istanbul environments it is said that this is why Turkey has long been attempting to activate Article 4 of the NATO Statute when conjunctures allow it.

In fact, at Ankara's request, a special meeting of its permanent members was convened last night in Brussels, to study whether the situation should lead to activating Article 4.

On the other hand, there are some in Turkey who are calling for caution and ask that the origin and manufacture of the bullets and shells be carefully examined. In this way, Turkey would have to distance itself from the Syrian liberation forces. But this would lead Ankara to make yet another about face, which is very common in Turkish history, and also led to some disappointment among the anti Assad rebels.

In any case, the Turkish-Syrian border is becoming increasingly incandescent and its developments unpredictable.

 

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