Turkey in trouble for lying to NATO?
Turkey may have been less-than-honest with NATO regarding its F-4 reconnaissance jet that was downed by Syria, and it may yet suffer the consequences (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Confusion about what happened to a military jet that went missing off the Syrian coast on June 22 has already sparked criticism at home towards the government for the way it has handled its process of investigation. But the ramifications may not be solely domestic as the confusion also puts Turkey˘s international credibility, including within NATO -- which rushed to express solidarity with Ankara after the incident -- at stake.
In a statement on Wednesday, the military signaled revision in its version of the events, referring for the first time to the RF-4E Phantom that went missing as our aircraft that Syrian authorities have claimed to have downed. This means the plane may not have been downed by Syria at all and that it may have crashed into the water as a result of malfunction or piloting error or assuming that the Syrians did attack the plane faulty maneuvering while trying to escape from attack.
Soon after the jet went missing over the Mediterranean, Turkey said the aircraft was shot down by the Syrian forces with a missile in international airspace, calling it a hostile act. Ankara then summoned an emergency meeting of NATO under Article 4 of the alliance˘s charter, which allows a NATO ally to request such NATO consultation if it feels its territorial integrity or security has been threatened.
If it turns out that the Turks, who were among the first members of the North Atlantic Alliance, were less than honest with their NATO partners, it is going to put a major strain on the relations, wrote Steven A. Cook, a Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, although he said this cannot be the case because Turkey would never risk its status within the alliance.
But even in the event that there was no deliberate attempt to hide facts from NATO allies, the way the government has handled the process still raises questions of trustworthiness. Of course this risks Turkey˘s credibility, said Duygu Sezer, a professor of international relations at Dou University, commenting on the confusion that emerged after the military statement.
She said the Turkish authorities acted hastily and on incomplete information but also questioned the position of the United States, NATO˘s biggest power, which she said is very unlikely not to have detailed information on the incident because of its impressive naval presence in the region. It is out of the question for the US to not to have information on any incident unfolding in the Mediterranean, she said. I believe the Americans have all the information about the incident and find it confusing that they were completely silent when it was taken to NATO.
Speaking after NATO˘s emergency talks on June 26 in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen condemned Syria for shooting down the Turkish jet and declared that the alliance was in solidarity with Turkey.
They're starting to sound like the little boy that cried wolf aren't they? Heh.
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