News / Middle East

    NATO to Deploy Defensive Missiles to Turkey

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference ahead a two-day NATO foreign ministers at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, December 4, 2012.
    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference ahead a two-day NATO foreign ministers at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, December 4, 2012.
    Al Pessin
    NATO has authorized the deployment of a missile defense system to Turkey in response to the continuing violence in Syria and concern its government might resort to using chemical weapons. Alliance foreign ministers formalized the decision in Brussels on Tuesday. 
     
    Officials say three NATO countries will deploy American-made Patriot anti-missile batteries in southeastern Turkey during the next several weeks. Troops from the United States, the Netherlands and Germany are to set up and run the systems, which officials say will be loaded with non-explosive projectiles to intercept incoming short-range missiles. 
     
    The computer-controlled system usually has less than a minute-and-a-half to prevent a potentially deadly missile strike.
     
    Suspected Syrian Chemical Weapons

    Sarin
    • Man-made highly toxic odorless, tasteless, colorless nerve agent
    • Possibly used during Iraq-Iran war
    • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption; people can recover with treatment form mild or moderate exposure

    VX
    • Odorless, tasteless man-made nerve agent; most potent of all nerve agents
    • Slow to evaporate, can last for days on objects
    • Exposure can be through skin contact or inhalation; people can recover with treatment for mild or moderate exposure

    Mustard Gas
    • Chemical warfare agent that causes skin blisters and mucous membranes
    • Sometimes odorless, sometimes smells like garlic, onions or mustard
    • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact
    • Vapor released in the air can be carried long distances; exposure not usually fatal

    Source: CDC
    NATO member Turkey first asked for help after Syrian army shells landed on its side of the border in October, near rebel strongholds. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says concerns that Syria's beleaguered government might resort to using chemical weapons against the rebels added urgency to the issue. He called any use of chemical weapons “completely unacceptable,” and said it would cause “an immediate reaction.”
     
    NATO officials emphasize that the Patriot system will have no offensive capability, and there is no plan to intervene in the Syrian conflict. A statement issued Tuesday specifies that it is not a first step toward creating a no-fly zone in Syria, which some advocates have called for. 
     
    Still, Syria's ally, Russia, has expressed concerns about the deployment. Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the plan during a visit to Istanbul on Monday, saying the October strike was an accident and that Syria's government is in no position to attack its neighbors. 

    Secretary General Rasmussen says he and NATO ministers have tried to reassure Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who was in Brussels to meet with the NATO foreign ministers. Rasmussen says Russia should not be surprised that NATO is helping to defend an ally, and that the deployment of the anti-missile system could have a positive impact even if it is never used.
     
    “Actually, I do believe that a deployment of Patriot missiles will serve as an effective deterrent, and that way deescalate the situation along the Syrian-Turkish border," he said. 

    Related video report by Henry Ridgwell:
    But Foreign Minister Lavrov told reporters the risk to Turkey is overstated and that Russia has checked the various reports of possible Syrian preparations to use its chemical weapons, and believes they are not accurate. He said any use of chemical weapons would be “grave” and unacceptable. And he said Russia has offered to help set up direct communications between Turkey and Syria to reduce the possibility of any misunderstanding.
     
    As their meetings continue Tuesday and Wednesday, the NATO ministers are discussing the ongoing mission in Afghanistan. On Monday, the secretary general told visiting Afghan reporters the alliance's commitment to Afghanistan will continue even after its combat role ends in two years. But he said the Afghan government must also fulfill its commitments to the international community to improve governance, fight corruption, protect human rights, including women's rights, and to hold transparent and credible elections in 2014 and 2015.
     
    Secretary General Rasmussen said he expects the Afghan security forces to be able to take full responsibility for the country by the end of 2014 as planned, and he repeated that the NATO role will change to support and training only at that time. He said that will be a focus of the foreign ministers' meeting, along with ways to ensure continued foreign funding for the Afghan forces.

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    Comments
         
    by: Cesar Vazquez from: Paramount CA
    December 05, 2012 8:11 PM
    The Patriot System is only a means. Not a decisive action. The "end" or objective is for Turkey's "defending" allies to be in a position that will bring victory in the event that circumstances escalate. Just as Syria is preparing its rockets to be used as as a means to Syria's own end. All dictators rule with an Iron Fist, or else they would not be dictators. President Bashar Assad's only recourse is to do the only thing he knows to do. Inevitably we all know where this story is headed. Well, at least I do.

    by: Noah Olatunde from: Lagos,Nigeria
    December 05, 2012 7:27 AM
    NATO needs to emply every military means to stop president Assad from using chemical weapons against his people and not unecessary deploying patroit missiles across Turkeish border because it is more or less like inciting syria/Turkey crisis.since Turkey border is widely open for syrian civilian refugee.if Nn DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS failed because of economic interested UNSC is tryin to protect in syria.i do not xpect any things diplomatically possible from UN and NAto

    by: Act Before Assad Can Act! from: Dallas
    December 05, 2012 6:36 AM
    Bravo NATO!
    You act really like what you pronounced in defending your allies!
    Hopefully, in the near future, NATO, The USA and Free World will not only defend your allies, but also defend all wretched persons in the dictatorial regimes the world over.
    This will make our Planet more and more meaningful!
    Be careful with Assad!
    He is landing in the worst impasse, so he can quite become daring dangerously.
    He can use chemical weapons directly, or indirectly by other bad people.
    This will make not only Syria, but also The Middle East and the whole world dangerous extremely.
    We should try to act before the worst thing can happen anytime, as soon as possible.
    We should be always active in oder to break up all Asssad’s dangerous actions in the battle before he can really act.
    It's not necessary to respect Putin any longer, he is a very cruel person.
    History will never forgive him, if he goes on supporting all serious crimes of Assad!

    by: new_york_loner from: new york
    December 04, 2012 9:05 AM
    Rule Number One at what claims to be, "the voice of America":

    1. We do not seek to limit your expression of ideas, but material that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, indecent, abusive, violent, pornographic, threatening, harassing, discriminatory or that constitutes hate speech or is illegal is not allowed and may be deleted at the discretion of the site management. (End quote)

    I wonder how the Founders of this secular, pluralistic, constitutional and democratic republic would feel about these arbitrary ground rules.

    The British crown considered the American Declaration of Independence to be libelous, defamatory, obscene, indecent, abusive, violent, pornographic, threatening, harassing, discriminatory, hate speech and thoroughly illegal.

    The voice of America has been considerably stifled since then.

    by: new_york_loner from: new york
    December 04, 2012 8:09 AM
    I think that the US has enough Holy War on its plate for the time being....if NATO wants to go in and take out the Assad regime's chemical weapons facilities, that's one thing; but a unilateral US strike on Syria's chemical WMD capability is not a good idea, IMO.

    The US and Israel have never given a rodent's rectum about the Syrian people before this civil war erupted; our sudden humanitarian interests in Syria are very suspicious.

    The real reasons for our concerns about Syrian chemical weapons is the security of the Jewish State in Palestine...we certainly don't want any Jews to be gassed by chemical weapons....when the Kurds got gassed, the US did nothing....if Syrians get gassed, we will howl and protest; but, unless an Israeli or two gets gassed, we will probably just make humanitarian noises from the sidelines.

    Americans are very selective with their compassion and sympathy....we have extremely little sympathy for Muslims and Arabs these days....seems like all of our sympathy is reserved for the Jews in Israel.
    In Response

    by: Glenn Jed from: Rochester, NY
    December 05, 2012 7:22 PM
    People like you find every excuse to be hatefull. You also seem to have a short memory of who the US has helped in the past 20 to 30 years. It was the US and NATO in the 90's that came to the rescue of the muslim minority when they were being systematically irradicated by Molosavich military machine. Only a year ago, the US, France and Britain intervened hours before Ghadafi and his forces entered Benghazi. Ghadafi had openly professed that he would go door to door and kill the inhabitants of that city. These are actions the West didnt have to do... but we did because it was the right thing to do! So do your homework before leaving hatefull messages.

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