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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Turkey seeks assurances Israel won't be a beneficiary of NATO missile defense system

Turkey is conditioning its participation in a NATO missile defense system on Israel not receiving intelligence data from the system and on Iran not being designated an enemy against whom the missile system is meant to defend (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Long-time NATO member Turkey has been holding discussions with the US over the proposed missile defense system. Although Turkey has not publicly rejected US requests to take part in the system, it is concerned that a possible deployment of anti-missile elements in its territory could harm its relations with Iran, which has drastically improved its economic and security ties with Turkey in recent years.

US officials have said on more than one occasion that the missile defense system is meant to address a growing missile threat from Iran, a statement that rattles Turkey, which insists Iran should not be mentioned as a threat in the proposed Europe-wide anti-missile system. The clock is ticking for a final deal as NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen presses for a NATO decision on the matter during the alliance’s upcoming Lisbon summit on Nov. 19-20.

Turkey says it is not against establishment of a missile defense system for NATO’s European allies but insists in talks with the US that the project should be built for defensive, not offensive, purposes. Any clear reference to Iran or any other neighboring country as a threat in the proposed missile defense system runs counter to Ankara’s chief foreign policy objective: “zero problems” with neighbors. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is convinced that there is no need to mention any country as a source of threat as threats keep changing fast in today’s highly unpredictable world. Thus, dealing with the threat as it emerges is the practical choice. Sources said the Turkish argument looks reasonable to US authorities. Naming countries a source of threat is difficult in a practical sense, too, because NATO operates by principle of unanimity and it is not possible to classify a non-ally as threat if one of the allies is opposed. But the level of understanding permeating the ongoing negotiations is not enough to say what the final agreement will look like when the Lisbon summit convenes. Sources say even though there might be no formal reference to Iran in any written document, US officials may do so verbally in press statements during the summit.


The missile defense system plans again put Turkey in a foreign policy dilemma over its ties with Iran. Western experts say Turkish refusal to join the proposed system would deepen concerns over an “axis shift” in the Turkish foreign policy, while participation in a system openly targeting Iran would disrupt Turkey’s zero-problem with neighbors policy and undermine its regional role. Many in Turkey believe that protecting Israel from a possible missile attack by Iranians is the secret purpose of the US-pioneered missile defense system. But Israel is not a NATO member and thus cannot receive protection from a NATO system. Israel also does not need protection from NATO as it already has its own national missile defense system that could counter threats from Iran or other possible enemies.

In fact, given the unpredictability of the security situation across the globe, it is possible that the missile defense system could even be used against Israel some day in the future. NATO is an organization that operates on the principle of collective defense and an attack on an ally is considered an attack on the entire alliance.
What could go wrong?


At 5:44 PM, Blogger Hutzpan said...

it is possible that the missile defense system could even be used against Israel some day in the future.

Do they intend to accept Iran into NATO as well???


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