Iraqi PM Warns Turkey Not to Try to Drag NATO into Syria Conflict

Turkey's ongoing artillery firing into Syrian territory is seen by many as an attempt to provoke a wider outbreak of war

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned Turkey on Wednesday against escalating its tensions with Syria and thereby dragging NATO into the conflict.

Maliki, a close ally of Iran, said Syria was not threatening Turkey, and criticized Ankara’s response to errant Syrian shelling that landed in a Turkish town last week, killing 5 civilians, suggesting they were trying to incite a NATO war in Syria.

“Turkey is being presumptuous, you could say, as if it were taking responsibility for solving the Syrian conflict instead of the Syrian people and wants to impose its own solution. For this reason the international community needs to stop Turkey from intervening,” he said.

For much of the mortar fire coming into Turkey from Syria, according to the New York Times, “It has not been clear whether the Syrian mortar is deliberate or the result of inaccurate fire in clashes between government forces and rebels seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.”

Still, Turkey has kept up its “retaliation,” in what many see as unnecessary escalation of the conflict. As Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote of Turkey’s recent actions, Ankara may be trying to “[provoke] an incident in an attempt to force events and invocation of Article 5,” NATO’s provision that obligates member states to come to the defense of another member.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday that NATO would back Turkey in case of a more substantial break-out of war. But at the same time he urged the two sides to avoid escalation, in a sign of the West’s remaining unease with getting involved in anything more than a proxy war in Syria.

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