June 26, 2012
On Tuesday, June 26 Belgium time the North Atlantic Council, the highest governing body of the U.S.-dominated North Atlantic Treaty Organization military bloc, will take up the issue of Syria under provisions of its founding document that in the past ten and a half years have resulted in military deployments preparatory to and the subsequent waging of full-scale wars.
The ambassadors of the alliance's 28 member states constitute the council, nations whose collective population is 900 million. Its founding members include three nuclear powers - the U.S., Britain and France - the first the self-proclaimed world's sole military superpower.
Until the day before the meeting NATO was to take up a request by member Turkey to hold consultations under the terms of the North Atlantic (Washington) Treaty's Article 4, which allows any member state to call on the entire alliance to respond to alleged threats to its territorial integrity and security.
On June 25, three days after a Turkish F-14 supersonic fighter-bomber was shot down over Syrian waters, Turkey announced that it was going to ask the military alliance to discuss its Article 5, which states that "an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all" and commits NATO allies to "assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force..."
Article 5 was invoked for the first and to date only time in October 2001 and is the basis for the deployment of troops from 28 NATO and 22 partner states to Afghanistan over the past decade.
Article 4 was first invoked on February 16, 2003, again by the North Atlantic Council and again in relation to Turkey, on the eve of the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq. So-called Operation Display Deterrence was launched as a result and five Patriot interceptor missile batteries, three Dutch and two American, and four Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance aircraft were deployed to Turkey in conjunction with NATO's Integrated and Extended Air Defence System.
NATO, in its own words, deployed "1000 technically advanced and highly capable forces" to run the operation.
The first AWACS aircraft arrived on February 26 and three weeks later the bombardment and invasion of Iraq began. Although Iraq at the time had a population of approximately 25 million and Turkey 70 million, and although Turkey had one of the most formidable militaries in the region while Iraq's had been weakened by the eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, the U.S. and allied bombing campaign of 1991 and in the interim, and twelve years of crushing sanctions, NATO afterward praised Operation Display Deterrence as having "tested and proved the success of NATO’s military to respond immediately and with appropriate defensive force to a rapidly developing threat against a member of the Alliance."
In what manner a fatally debilitated Iraq had presented Turkey with "a rapidly developing threat" was never specified.
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