Turkey got full support on paper from its NATO allies against Syria’s shooting down a Turkish aeroplane that even it admits strayed into its neighbour’s territorial waters briefly.
Had Istanbul not hardened overtly its support for Syria’s strongman Bashar al Assad’s opponents, things might have turned out differently. But, the growing civil war in Syria has pushed Damascus to declare open warfare against rebels who want to overthrow him.
Turkey’s porous borders are a conduit to safe haven to fleeing Syrian refugees and high and low ranking military; they also are a passage way for more and more sophisticated military materiel from the US, Saudi Arabia, and other states in the Middle East.
Little wonder, Syria shot down the jet, which, rightly or wrongly perceived, as being on a reconnaissance mission or spying purposes. Damascus is jittery, to say the least.
Yet, it is important to note that Turkey didn’t evoke the clause in the NATO treaty that ‘an attack against one is an attack against all’. Truth be told, no NATO state has the stomach for open warfare against Syria, including the US in spite of the ravings of the Republicans.
Turkey got what it wanted a toothless condemnation.
Nonetheless, Turkey is vulnerable: stepped up pressure on Syria will embolden its own suppressed Kurds in the PKK to attack Istanbul, and were Turkey to strike out at Syria, well, intervention would open a two front war in Turkey and Syria….
Assad may fall in the end, but Turkey’s ‘democracy’ will also be a victim too. Istanbul is fronting for the US, and as such, is carrying a burden it is going to pay dearly for.