This is pretty much what I expected when violence from Syria moved across the border to Turkey. I mentioned that Turkey was a NATO member. And now the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is hinting at NATO member obligations:
“We have many options. A country has rights born out of international law against border violations,” Erdogan was quoted as saying by Hurriyet daily and other newspapers.
“Also, NATO has responsibilities to do with Turkey’s borders, according to Article 5,” added Erdogan, whose country is a NATO member.
Uh-oh. Article 5 is, as Think Progress explains, the linchpin for the alliance. It says explicitly 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, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence.” In other words, more cross-border attacks by Syria against targets inside Turkey would necessarily force the US, France, Britain and the rest of the NATO alliance to come to Turkey’s aid militarily.
In order to pre-empt this at a time when refugees still sit on the border between Syria and Turkey, the State Department wants to create a buffer zone between the two countries. That would create something to police and also a red line that would have to be crossed for any expansion of activities. But this is what it means to be pulled into a conflict. For some of the more warlike factions in Washington, you don’t have to do all that much pulling.
I’d like to say that the cease-fire which began today in Syria supersedes all this, and now peace and calm and reconciliation will predominate. But I don’t want you all to laugh at me. The situation remains precarious, and Turkey will apparently not hesitate to invoke their rights as a NATO member should things turn more deadly.