Monday, July 27, 2015

Article 4, NATO, and Turkey

Turkey is turning the ratchet one more time - maybe;
NATO said Sunday that it would meet this week after Turkey called for special talks amid heightened concerns over its security.

Turkey made the request under Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows countries to ask for consultations when they believe their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.

It's only the fifth time in NATO history that members will meet under Article 4, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu told CNN.
The other times?
Since the Alliance’s creation in 1949, Article 4 has been invoked several times. Once by Poland on 3 March 2014 following increasing tensions in neighbouring Ukraine. On two occasions in 2012, Turkey requested that the North Atlantic Council (NAC) convene under Article 4: once on 22 June after one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian air defence forces and the second time on 3 October when five Turkish civilians were killed by Syrian shells. Following these incidents, on 21 November, Turkey requested the deployment of Patriot missiles. NATO agreed to this defensive measure so as to help Turkey defend its population and territory, and help de-escalate the crisis along the border.

Previously, on 10 February 2003, Turkey formally invoked Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty, asking for consultations in the NAC on defensive assistance from NATO in the event of a threat to its population or territory resulting from armed conflict in neighbouring Iraq. NATO agreed a package of defensive measures and conducted Operation Display Deterrence from end February to early May 2003.
Let's review:

- Turkey; 2003
- Turkey: 2012
- Turkey: 2012
- Poland: 2014
- Turkey: 2015


Besides seeming that your country has to have five letters, Turkey is producing more Article 4 issues than can be consumed locally.

What does Turkey want from NATO, now that she has decided that the medieval nightmare that is ISIS could rage on her doorstep for years, but only when the Kurds were getting strong, they needed to act?

There are a few things to keep in mind concerning this latest chain of events that hopefully will help the excessively optimistic to calm down.

We have always walked on eggshells when it came to the Turks – and they play that to best effect. Let me be a bit blunt having worked with and around the Turks a few times.

- First of all, the Turkish contributions to the alliance always look better on paper than they are useful in the field. From the Crimean War on, the then Ottomans and now Turks, relied on their Western allies to do the heavy lifting, or leaned on them to provide the edge to succeed in the field that they lack – NATO is just another iteration of this habit.

- They have a very large military, but it is more of an inwardly focused. Though they fought well in the Korean War, besides fighting their fellow NATO ally Greece and their Cypriot cohorts in the 70s, Turkey has at best a military built to … have a military. Look at what little they have done as an alliance member from the Balkans to their duck-n-cover participation in Afghanistan. The only alliance member that did less with less was the Greeks.

Even in the use of their bases – as we learned in 2003 of spotty reliability – it is for their interest, either because others are are doing their dirty work, or it is the minimum they can do in exchange for something else.

- Turkey is not going to move to eliminate the horror at their doorstep, ISIS. In some ways, the Turks have been playing both sides against the middle looking for their own needy advantage – for you Game of Thrones fans; consider the Turks the House Frey of NATO. They will make their token efforts, and will do what needs to be done to preserve their enclave around the tomb of Suleyman Shah. Taking care of eliminating medieval radical Sunni terrorists on their border is not the job of the Islamists Turkish government, dontchaknow. If it must be done, it should be done by their NATO Janissaries and various Arab fodder, though if pressed, they will be willing to provide staff elements or liaison officers..

- This is mostly about the Kurds. They are slowly gaining more territory and recognition. From the collapsing states of Syria and Iraq, they at last have a chance for forming a nation of their own. That example, from the Turkish government points in one direction; somewhere in the neighborhood of 18% of the Turkish population is Kurdish.

See that map at the top? That is where most of them are … and the percentages are a little more drastic. 79.1% Red (Southeastern Anatolia), 64.1% Light Red (Northeast Anatolia), 32.0% Pink: 14.8 - 4.9%.

The Kurds are many, and Istanbul is far away.

If you were a Turk – would you want an active, progressive, secular and newly energetic – flush with victory – Kurdish republic next to your majority Kurdish provinces?

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