News / Middle East

NATO to Hold Urgent Meeting on Syria

NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (file photo) NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (file photo)
x
NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (file photo)
NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium (file photo)
Al Pessin
LONDON - Turkey is asking its NATO allies for a tough response to Syria's downing of one of its aircraft on Friday. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc says that at a hastily-arranged NATO meeting Tuesday, his country will ask that the shootdown be considered an attack on the entire alliance. That conclusion could trigger a joint military response. But experts do not expect Tuesday's meeting to actually lead to war.
 
Turkey requested the meeting under NATO's Article Four, which empowers any member to call a meeting if its “territorial integrity, political independence or security” is threatened.  But the Turkish prime minister said Monday his country will ask NATO to consider the downing of its aircraft under Article 5 - as an attack on all of NATO, opening the door to a joint military response.
 
Still, Turkey and Europe expert Fadi Hakura at London’s Chatham House research center says the Turkish government wants to be seen as taking tough action and garnering the support of its allies, without actually starting a war.
 
“Article 4 is not like Article 5," said Hakura. "Article 4 is essentially a form of consultation between the NATO allies.  And that’s what Turkey really is looking for at this stage.  What I don’t think Turkey is contemplating is any kind of direct military confrontation between Turkey and Syria.  It’s more of a public relations exercise rather than a substantive discussion or a substantive response.”
 
At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg involving many of the countries that will attend Tuesday’s NATO meeting in Brussels, the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for a limited response to the shootdown.
 
“I spoke with the Turkish foreign minister specifically about this," said Ashton. "We are very concerned about what’s happened.  And we will be obviously looking to Turkey to be restrained in its response.”
 
At the same meeting, European Union foreign ministers condemned the shootdown and agreed on a slight increase on economic sanctions against Syria.
 
But British Foreign Secretary William Hague downplayed talk of a military response, saying that his country and others will be seeking more EU and United Nations sanctions on Syria in the coming weeks.
 
“I don’t think it illustrates a different phase in the Syrian crisis," said Hague. "I think we continue to be in a great danger of a collapse, of intensifying conflict.  So it’s very important that we increase the pressure on the [Bashar al-]Assad regime with additional sanctions.”
 
Turkey reported on Monday that several more senior Syrian military officers had entered its territory and defected to the opposition’s military force.
 
But at Britain’s Maplecroft risk assessment company, Senior Analyst Anthony Skinner says this is not a major turning point in the crisis.
 
“If you think about the strategic considerations on the ground, nothing has changed," said Skinner. "If there’s an initiative, and I doubt this initiative would exist, to actually drive for intervention in Syria, the implications of such an intervention would be very severe.  So this is just part of an overall response, a political response.”
 
Analysts say it would be impossible to get China and Russia to agree at the U.N. Security Council to authorize the use of force, and that any military action could still trigger a regional conflict potentially involving Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel.  They say that these are among the reasons NATO has not launched a Syria military operation since the uprising there began more than a year ago.
 
But experts say the shootdown of the Turkish plane could affect the conflict by persuading Turkey and other countries to provide more help to the Syrian opposition, possibly including intelligence and weapons.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid