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News Analysis: Turkey looks for increased deterrence with missile defense

English.news.cn   2012-11-08 19:56:59            

ANKARA, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's recent move to raise the possibility of deploying NATO's Patriot missiles along the border with Syria aims to boost the alliance's deterrence capability and further its stakes in the Syrian crisis, Turkish analysts said.

"I think NATO is delivering a message to Syrian backers, mainly Russia and Iran, that it will not tolerate the Syrian crisis to pose a threat to the alliance's security," Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of Ankara's International Strategic and Security Research Center, told Xinhua over the phone.

"This is perfectly in line with the long-pursued goal of containment policy of NATO against Russia," he said, adding that Patriot missiles will neutralize the air defense capabilities in Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday in Brussels that NATO is preparing to deploy Patriot missiles on the Turkish side of the border with Syria as part of its contingency planning.

Diplomatic sources in the Turkish capital of Ankara also said the issue was discussed as part of the preparations and contingency planning on the security of NATO territories.

In fact, Turkey has not made any official request for the deployment of the missile defense system yet. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in Indonesia that "there has been no such request."

The Turkish prime minister's remarks were confirmed Wednesday by U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland. "We've been working within NATO and with Turkey to look at what other defensive support Turkey might require. My understanding is that as of today, we haven't had a formal request of NATO," the spokesperson said in a daily press briefing Wednesday.


However, some Turkish analysts believe that Turkey will place the request in NATO when it feels threatened by the Syrian crisis, most specifically by the chemical and biological arsenal Syria possesses.

"There are some red lines that Turkey may feel propelled to act against Syria, like the deployment of chemical weapons," Idris Gursoy, a veteran political analyst, told Xinhua.

"To neutralize threats like these, you need to have strong deterrence capability like Patriot missile defense systems," he added.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned Thursday that Turkey needs to prepare for all eventualities in Syria. "It has been known that Syria has chemical weapons. And we need to take all the precautions," he underlined.

NATO deployed Patriot missile defense systems in Turkey twice in the past, responding to Turkish requests for protection in the course of the Iraqi war.

There are unconfirmed reports by Turkish press that Turkey and its NATO allies have discussed the possibility of using Patriot missiles to protect civilians in a safe zone inside war-torn Syria. The reports said using missiles is one of a number of scenarios being considered as a way to stop the Syrian government forces' attacks on the opposition.

Turkey officially asked NATO for consultations under Article 4 of the alliance's charter when five Turkish civilians were killed last month by a mortar shell fired across the border from Syria. However, Ankara did not invoke Article 5, the collective defense clause.


In addition to the possible NATO deployment of missile defense systems in Turkey, Ankara is also in talks with different countries to purchase its own missile defense system.

Emre Soncan, a security expert, said Turkey will speed up the purchase of a long-range air defense system worth 4 billion U.S dollars in an attempt to beef up its defense capabilities.

"If the purchase goes ahead as planned, Turkey will acquire 13 missile batteries and 72 missiles," he said. The decision is expected to be taken in a December meeting led by the Turkish prime minister.

Turkey does not have long-range air defense system currently and relies on NATO capabilities. Turkey hosts an X-band radar system at a military base in the eastern town of Kurecik, as part of a NATO-backed missile shield designed to protect NATO's European members from growing threats of ballistic missiles.

Editor: znz
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