Could Turkey invoke NATO clause over Israeli attack on flotilla? [updated]
June 1, 2010 5 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
IntelNews hears there is some speculation in diplomatic circles that the government of Turkey may try to involve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in its dispute with Israel, which began after Israeli commandos killed several Turkish citizens in international waters yesterday. Up to 19 civilians are thought to have been killed during an early dawn raid by Israeli Defense Forces commandos on a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in defiance of the four-year-old Israeli blockade. The fact that the deadly raid took place in international waters prompted Ankara to call for an emergency meeting of NATO’s 28 member states. A NATO spokesperson confirmed that ambassadors from all 28 member states, Turkey included, will be attending an emergency meeting today in Brussels, Belgium. Considering that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Israeli commando raid an act of “state terrorism”, some observers wonder whether Turkey might call on fellow NATO members to act in accordance with Article 5 of the Organization’s constitution, which describes a military attack on one NATO member as an attack on the entire alliance. However, an unnamed diplomat speaking to international news agencies cautioned that Turkey has “has not invoked article five”, and that “NATO does not really have instruments with which to deal with the follow-up from this type of affair”. Yesterday another NATO member, Greece, canceled a planned joint air force exercise with Israel, and there was speculation that it too could follow Turkey’s example in severing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
[01 June 2010 16:55 GMT Update] Following the NATO emergency meeting, which ended a few minutes ago, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Israel “as a matter of urgency” to immediately release the over 600 activists it detained and to promptly open an impartial probe on Monday’s bloody raid. The secretary general said the “debate” between the Organization’s 28 member-state ambassadors involved an “extensive exchange of views” and covered “all aspects” of the incident, but he provided no further details. He also refused to comment on Israel’s decision to storm the flotilla in international waters and fire on the activists with live munitions.