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“Patriot” Mission: “defense of Turkey” or aggression against Syria?

28.01.2013 09:22

Stanislav Ivanov

The decision to deploy NATO's Patriot surface-to-air missile systems in the south-east of Turkey, adopted at the end of 2012 at a meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels, can be considered not only as yet another threat to Bashar al-Assad's government, but also as preparation of the North Atlantic Alliance for military intervention in Syria's internal affairs. Along the Turkish-Syrian border by early February it is planned to deploy six Patriot surface-to-air missile systems – the two will come from the U.S., and two from each Germany and the Netherlands.

Each of the above NATO countries will send to Turkey about 400 militaries as crew and service personnel (Turkey itself has not similar complexes so far).

This decision was taken by the NATO Council allegedly at the request of Ankara, which is concerned about the possible use of Damascus ballistic missiles in response to the military support of the Syrian opposition from Turkish territory. A hypothetical possibility of the use by Syrians of missiles with chemical warheads causes particular concern of Turkey.

Ankara authorities also advance baseless claims against the neighbors about supporting “terrorists” from the Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Recep Erdogan expresses concerns about the fact that the Kurdish regions of Syria will acquire the status of autonomy or federation subject - by the example of Iraq, and then the PKK will be able to use the Syrian territory as a springboard for a more active struggle against the Turkish authorities. According to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, Erdogan officially spoke out against the creation of the autonomous Kurdish region in Syria, fearing that it may eventually lead to the unification of the Kurds of Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and the creation of an independent Kurdish state. He believes that such a course of events could be prevented by a quick seizure of power by the Syrian opposition, mostly by the Sunni Arabs, similar by their views to the Turkish Islamists represented by the ruling Justice and Development Party.

However, this scenario can not be implemented so far; the civil war in Syria becomes protracted; the opposition, despite strong support from abroad, is still fragmented and unable to inflict a decisive defeat on the ruling regime. Moreover, more than 2 million Syrian Kurds still remain neutral in this war, although they come into collisions with opposition fighters while they attempt to invade the Kurdish areas.

Turkey did not confine itself to the reception of refugees and the provision of financial and material assistance to anti-government forces in Syria, but allowed to deploy in the border areas military camps and bases of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA). Volunteers and mercenaries from other Arab and Islamic countries are being transferred here, to take military training, knock together units and afterwards to fight invading the Syrian neighboring territory.

As an example, we can cite the outbreak of violence in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain bordering Turkey, largely populated by Kurds. Several thousand fighters in cars, armed with submachine and heavy machine guns, by night violated the Turkish-Syrian border and tried to solidify in these areas, using violence against civilians and pillaging. The convoy was blocked by the government forces and the Kurdish United Self-Defense Forces (people's volunteerss). During fierce fighting the gangs of oppositionists had to retreat to Turkey, among the dead and captured were al-Qaeda militants from Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

After provoking large-scale armed clashes along the Turkish-Syrian border, the Turkish authorities used the facts of freakish hits of artillery and mortar shells into their territory to justify the subsequent shelling of Syria's border areas. Moreover, the Turkish parliament authorized a large-scale use if necessary of armed force against Syria. Turkey has rapidly deployed groups of its Naval, Air Force and air defense along the whole Turkish-Syrian border. Military strategists from Ankara together with their colleagues in Washington are considering the feasibility of creating a so-called safety, no-fly zone for Syrian aircraft. According to their plans, it will be controlled by Patriot systems and additional antiaircraft defenses and Turkish air forces F-16 fighters.

“NATO is ready to do everything necessary to ensure the safety of one of its members - Turkey,” said the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Prague on November 12 last year. “We have prepared a plan that will ensure the defense of Turkey,” he stressed. It is clear that the term “Turkish defense” means aggression against Syria. It's worth remembering how the NATO operation in Libya started under the guise of creating a “no-fly zone” and soon passed to massive missile and bomb strikes on Libyan military and civilian targets, brought numerous victims and ended in the brutal murder of the head of state. Such a scenario for Syria appears to be prepared in the offices of NATO, in case of failure to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad with the help of their regional partners in the name of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Since there are not so many those who whish to war in these rich Arab countries, and indeed they are not able to do this, it is necessary to recruit fighters of al-Qaeda, Taliban, Wahhabis, etc., to which the war had allegedly been long ago declared by the U.S. and its allies.

Syria, Iran and Russia came out against the deployment of NATO's Patriot missiles in Turkey. The Russian Foreign Ministry, expressing concern about the plans to deploy NATO Air Defense Group on the Turkish-Syrian border, indicate that this move will increase the risks of further destabilization in the region. Tehran saw in this decision a direct threat to its national security, and the head of the Armed Forces General Command Headquarters of Iran, Firuzabadi even said that “missile defense system deployment on the Turkish-Syrian border may lead to the world war”. The Western media have issued predictions on the possible rupture of diplomatic relations between Iran and Turkey. Several other countries expressed concern that the deployment of a new group of NATO forces in this explosive region may provoke international conflict.

Thus, the deployment of NATO's ABM systems in Turkey can be seen as another lever of pressure on the Syrian government and steps towards a possible escalation of the conflict in Syria, up to direct intervention in the country's internal affairs.