Turkey is justified in retaliating against shelling of its territory from Syria, and Canada, as a fellow member of NATO, must be seriously concerned.
The persistence of the shelling through six days in a row makes it hardly plausible that it is only a matter of accidental overshooting. On one day last week, five Turks were killed in the town of Akcakale, and many others were injured.
In June, the Turkish government acted with restraint when Syria shot a Turkish military aircraft flying in international air space, killing all of its crew.
Quite properly, on Tuesday, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Secretary-General of NATO, disclosed that it has made plans “to protect and defend Turkey,” if need be.
Similarly, John Baird, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said last week, “We stand with Turkey and our other regional partners.” He was also right to say that President Bashar al-Assad is “drawing the region into his self-inflicted conflict.”
Turkey is fully justified in accepting Syrian refugees, many of whom have been wounded in the civil war. At the same time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister, does not want to launch military operations on Syrian soil.
Turkey is inevitably affected by civil war in a neighbouring country. The Turkish government is not simply neutral on Syrian politics, but its criticisms of the tyrannical and violent al-Assad regime are well founded. Indeed, Syria’s and Turkey’s relations were actually improving only two years ago, according to a report.
It is characteristic of the Assad regime that on Monday the Minister of Information, Omran al-Zoubi, insultingly claimed that “confused, blundering” Turkish policy was an expression of a delusion that the Ottoman Empire is still in existence; he mockingly pointed out that the Turkish Foreign Ministry no longer “names custodians in Damascus, Mecca, Cairo and Jerusalem.”
The NATO treaty obliges its members to deliberate on what ought to be done, when the territorial integrity and security of any of its members is threatened. Canada can be expected to do its part.
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