Today, NATO allies will meet in Brussels under Article 4 of the NATO treaty to discuss the disintegrating conditions of the Syrian civil war. Turkey invoked Article 4 this week-end after Syria shot down one of their fighter jets in an open act of hostility. Article 4 is not a call to action, rather a call for all member countries to consult on the situation and discuss strategy going forward. Future stability of the Turkish-Syrian border continues to be at risk as 30,000+ Syrian refugees cross to escape the horrors and brutality imposed upon the Syrian people by their dictator Bashar al-Assad.
For over 16 months, the region has made numerous attempts at diplomatic solutions only to be met with increasing bloodshed imposed upon the Syrian citizens by their own government. However, the call for consultation should not be perceived as a call to intervene in Syria. Rather, the focus will be increased information sharing abilities, increased technological coordination, and continued diplomatic solutions even though many are silently worried that a boots-on-the-ground action may be inevitable.
All political parties in Turkey have agreed that action must be taken within the parameters of international law and diplomacy. MHP leader Davlet Bahçeli firmly, and wisely, warned the Turkish government to not “fall into a trap of intervention in Syria.” Bahçeli reportedly stated, “Some Western countries have put pressure on Turkey for an intervention in Syria. Turkey should not fall into this trap.”
Reaction from NATO member countries has also been swift and sharp. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius stated, “This plane was not carrying arms and was on a routine flight and was shot down ... There was no prior warning, therefore this is completely unacceptable.”
The EU also added another Syrian official and several more companies and government institutions to the EU’s sanctions list.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the act as, “brazen and unacceptable” and emphasized that the U.S. will work closely with the Turkish government to hold Syria accountable for their aggression against Turkey. White House spokesperson Jay Carny stood firm when he addressed the press pool aboard Air Force One by stating, "We stand in solidarity with Turkey, a key U.S. ally… We will work with Turkey, and other partners, to hold the Assad regime accountable."
The executive committee for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation also stepped up their pressure and is now recommending suspending Syria’s membership. The Arab League continues to denounce Russia’s weapons shipments to the Syrian government as Russia and China blocks every appeal to the UN for greater involvement continue to be vetoed by both countries.
In advance of the NATO talks there is some encouraging news as we continue to hear more Syrian military personal have defected including a reported 33 Army personnel, one general and two colonels as Assad continues to lose the support of his military members.
Yet, as this continues to unfold and the body count increases, we can’t help but think back to the beginning of the Syrian Spring revolution and the first thought that ran through the minds of many, “This is not going to end well,” and hope that today NATO will listen to the voice of experience from one of our longest standing partners, Turkey, and truely realize a diplomatic solution to end the terror in Syria in spite of the numerous blocks Russia and China have thrown in the Syrian citizen’s way.