Turkish Deputy PM Escalates War of Words Against Syria

Turkey to Demand 'Article 5' NATO Response to Warplane Downing

In some of the most belligerent comments yet to come out of the nation, Turkish Vice PM Bulent Arinc opened by saying that Turkey has “no intention of going at war with anyone,” then spent the bulk of his comments vowing a path of escalation that would end with NATO declaring war on Syria.

Arinc said that Turkey considered the loss of its warplane, shot down after it violated Syrian airspace, a threat to its territorial integrity, and would “no doubt” demand Article 5 responses from NATO, which would oblige NATO to treat the lost plane as an attack on every single member nation, and would proscribe a retaliatory war.

The details of the downing of the plane are still very much in doubt, with Turkey’s story simply making no sense, as despite claiming that their plane had sped out of Syrian airspace 15 minutes before it was downed, they maintain that the plane was shot down just 1 mile outside of the airspace, lingering it seems. And they still haven’t found the debris despite claiming certainty over where it went down. Syria, for its part, says that the plane went down not that far away, but inside their airspace.

Syria is also saying that they had no idea what the plane was but attacked it in “self defense” because it was speeding toward the Latakia Province at very low altitude. They have also warned NATO against using it as a pretext for escalation.

Which is exactly what some NATO member nations, notably Britain, seem keen to do. British FM William Hague insisted that the loss of the Turkish warplane “proved” the need for regime change in Syria. Britain and France have been pushing for a NATO-imposed regime change for months, and are eager for any excuse that would allow them to avoid the UN imprimatur (which Russia will block) and claim rather that it is Syria who attacked NATO.

Turkey has been hosting Syria’s various rebels for over a year now, and today at least 33 more members of the Syrian military defected to Turkey today, including a general. They will likely join the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as well.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.