Turkey's NATO Card

There was an apparently small detail during Erdogan's histrionic efforts to distract the world from the defeat to Turkey, delivered in the UN's Palmer Report.

Erdogan has slipped in an approval for a NATO radar early warning station to be located in Turkey.

This early warning station, as part of a NATO missile defence system, is aimed at countering an Iranian ballistic missile threat against Europe/NATO.

By approving the station, Erdogan risks evoking the ire of Iran, a nation with which Erdogan has lately invested considerable resource in creating a warm relationship.

So I am puzzled why Erdogan approved the new station, particularly in the context of his belligerent campaign against Israel….

Here's my theory – what do you think?

Turkey is clearly heading towards a military confrontation with Israel.

Turkey can either sail in, and start shooting.

Or, Turkey can try to goad Israel into firing the first shot. (Such as Israel's pre-emptive strike in the Six Day War).

In such a case, Turkey's membership of NATO may give Turkey protection against Israel, if Israel is deemed an "aggressor" – as according to NATO rules, an attack upon one member, is considered an attack against all members.

This clause was invoked (for the only time) ten years ago, when Al-Qaida attacked the New York Twin Towers. NATO jumped into action, participating in the Afghan campaign, to "defend" the USA.

However, leading NATO members, such as the USA, UK, Germany, et al, are most unlikely to leap into an armed conflict with Israel, on Turkey's say-so.

So these members could tell their NATO ally, Turkey, to go jump – even literally throw them out of the NATO alliance, of which Turkey is a pretty ineffective and junior member (eg. Turkey solely managed to send some hospital ships to Libya in the NATO support role of the rebels – and that was primarily to evacuate the thousands of Turkish subjects working for Kaddafi's regime).

Indeed, the NATO members would have every reason to cry "foul" to Turkey, including referring to Clause 1 of the NATO Charter:

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

I therefore suggest that the purpose of Erdogan's announcement about the radar early warning station which  sacrificed Turkey's hitherto good relations with Iran, is in order to shore up Turkey's credentials with NATO.

By upgrading Turkey from an expendable NATO member, to a key ally, Turkey can goad Israel into a first strike, and then call upon NATO to 'protect' Turkey.

Even the prospect of Israel facing NATO in combat, is a strategic asset for Turkey.


  1. Turkey is clearly goading Israel into attacking them first so they can claim victim status and even ensure that NATO not interfere with either side.
    Israel's best strategy at this point is to appear sincere and beg reconciliation without offering to do anything to speed that process along. The more Turkey screams bloody murder the more Israel should trumpet the eternal bonds of friendship between the two nations. It'll drive Erdogan mad!

  2. There is a simpler explanation. Erdogan sees Turkey as a major player in the mid-East He simultaneously opposes Israel and is a rival of Iran.

  3. David, not to be rude here, but how do you justify selling electronic warfare products to a country you believe is heading towards war with your country?

  4. Hi Erich

    It's not rude - it's a good question, and very much on my mind!

    Many years ago, my father-in-law's main market (chemicals) was Iran, in the days of the shah.

    Overnight, the Ayatollahs took over, and there was no possibility of continuing this business.

    Business is like that - markets come, markets go.

    The Turkish/Israeli defence business, has moved from booming for a decade, to the current dire situation, very quickly.

    Up until just a few months ago, Israel was still providing the Turkish military with advanced IAI Heron UAVs.

    As recently as July 2011, Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak was talking up the possibility for further Israeli defence sales to Turkey.

    If predictions of open hostilities between Turkey and Israel are accurate, then I can not have further dealings with Turkey.

    As you can imagine, I'm hastily re-focusing on other markets.

    Any ideas, contacts would be appreciated!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Marrying a Soloveitchik