Turkey has requested an urgent meeting of the NATO alliance to discuss the recent shootdown of one of their fighters and Syria's firing on a second aircraft today.
Turkey is asking its NATO allies for a tough response to Syria's downing of one of its aircraft on Friday. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc says that at a hastily-arranged NATO meeting Tuesday, his country will ask that the shootdown be considered an attack on the entire alliance. That conclusion could trigger a joint military response. But experts do not expect Tuesday's meeting to actually lead to war.
Turkey requested the meeting under NATO's Article Four, which empowers any member to call a meeting if its "territorial integrity, political independence or security" is threatened. But the Turkish prime minister said Monday his country will ask NATO to consider the downing of its aircraft under Article 5 - as an attack on all of NATO, opening the door to a joint military response.
Still, Turkey and Europe expert Fadi Hakura at London's Chatham House research center says the Turkish government wants to be seen as taking tough action and garnering the support of its allies, without actually starting a war.
"Article 4 is not like Article 5," said Hakura. "Article 4 is essentially a form of consultation between the NATO allies. And that's what Turkey really is looking for at this stage. What I don't think Turkey is contemplating is any kind of direct military confrontation between Turkey and Syria. It's more of a public relations exercise rather than a substantive discussion or a substantive response."
At a European Union meeting in Luxembourg involving many of the countries that will attend Tuesday's NATO meeting in Brussels, the EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton called for a limited response to the shootdown.
So far, Turkey has kept its cool, only saying that Syria would be "punished" for shooting down one of their planes in international air space. But the second incident might raise Prime Minister Erdogan's blood pressure a bit. If Syria is deliberately trying to draw Turkey into its civil war or, perhaps attempting to embarrass NATO to forestall intervention by showing their impotence, Turkey will need to continue to be cautious in its response considering the powder keg that Middle East is becoming.