NATO's test with PYD - YASIN AKTAY

NATO's test with PYD

Last week, new developments came through which could create a confidence crisis between Turkey and the U.S. The reason for this crisis was Turkey being uncomfortable with the U.S.'s support for the PYD-YPG, which is an organization that is a threat to Turkey's security. The U.S. Foreign Ministry Spokesman, John Kirby, said in a press conference that it did not recognize the YPG as a terror organization, thus proving Turkey's concern right.

When asked, “Turkey recognizes YPG as a terrorist organization whilst the U.S. doesn't, yet how will the two countries cooperate against ISIL despite this dissidence?”, Kirby said that they didn't consider the YPG as a terrorist organization, but still they were successful in cooperatively fighting against ISIL, stressing that coalition partners didn't have to think the same on all issues.

Oddly enough, Kirby was unaware when asked during the same press conference, whether the YPG, which was successful against ISIL, was ruining the demographic structure of Syria (as disclosed in a report prepared by the U.N. organs). Kirby stated that he had not seen such a report; therefore it would be improper for him to comment on such an issue.

It was claimed that the NATO General Secretary made another comment around the same time as Kirby. According to the claim, Stoltenberg had said during a broadcast that, “I don't believe Turkey will contribute to the international coalition formed to battle ISIL.” Furthermore, according to this claim, it was argued that the General Secretary said that Turkey had a strong military, thus it didn't need the support of NATO to protect itself. According to this news, that excited certain circles, Turkey acted way beyond “defense measures” against the blood thirsty PKK, that this was unacceptable, and this was blocking the way for peaceful and diplomatic agreements.

When I read the news, I thought that either the person who made this statement wasn't the NATO General Secretary, or that he wasn't aware of the founding principles of NATO, or that such a statement wasn't made at all.

Because the founding purpose of NATO was defense. Countries that are parties to the NATO agreement have the right to self-defense, either alone or all together, under the U.N statute. In other words, NATO (although the opposite can be argued) is an organization who is responsible to protect its member countries against the attacker, install international peace, and contribute to international security.

The founding agreement of NATO is rather short and concise. The North Atlantic Agreement's most important articles are articles 4 and 5. Article 4 requires that in the case of a member country experiencing a threat to its territorial integrity or security, the other members of the Agreement have to assemble for consultation, whereas article 5 (NATO's real characteristic) necessitates that in the case of a member country being under threat all other members are obligated to automatically help.

To put it differently, if any of the North Atlantic countries are under a threat, then the NATO countries are obliged to help that country. Since the establishment of the NATO Agreement, article 5 was applied only once, and that was after the September 11 attack.

Being attacked by a terrorist organization, not a country, the U.S. applied article 5 and thus the NATO abiding countries had to support the U.S.

Wars changing form nowadays and the U.S. applying article 5 after being attacked by a terrorist organization seems compatible with NATO changing its roles and responsibilities after the Cold War. As, straight after the Cold War ended, NATO stated in its summits that international terrorism was a factor that was to be included as a threat to NATO countries and world security.

Within this scope, it should be possible for Turkey to call the NATO to duty as it is under threat of terrorism originating from Syria and Iraq. In such a case, it cannot be possible for NATO to refuse to attend Turkey, just as it was claimed that the General Secretary said, “Turkey does not need NATO to ensure its security.”

Hence, in July this year, Turkey called NATO for a meeting based on article 4, and NATO confirmed that Turkey was not alone in its fight against terrorism and that NATO was supporting this fight. While this was the case, I couldn't deem Stoltenberg's comments as real. Thus, NATO made a statement rejecting that Stoltenberg made such a statement.

This false news in some way acted like a litmus paper. Stoltenberg's so-called statement coming at the same time as Kirby's statement, made an excitement and an interesting U.S.-NATO favor coming about in the pro-PKK and socialist circles of Turkey (these groups see their U.S. opposition as a distinguishing attribute about themselves.)

Bragging about their opposition to Turkey's NATO membership ever since this issue came up, regarding NATO as an organization of imperialism, and seeing Turkey as an imperialisms station, these circles suddenly changed their attitude and favored the U.S.-NATO. This sudden change can be regarded as a suppressed love situation of a schizophrenic. Obviously these circles are not troubled with NATO, but a NATO, which has Turkey as a member.

From time to time, confidence crises were experienced in regards to the Turkey-U.S. and Turkey-NATO relationships. The first thing that comes to mind is the breakaway point in the Turkey- U.S. relationship after Turkey's intervention in Cyprus. Other issues that come to mind are the crises experienced within Turkey and NATO as part of the European Defense and Security identity discussions or the Turkey- EU relationships.

However, Turkey's relationship with all three organizations has strategic and historical ties. Going through depressed times at certain stages; the ties have never broken off and instead have been restored.

On the contrary to Kirby's statements, what should be done is; allies should hold the same views on all issues, especially terrorism. If Germany didn't consider ISIL a terrorist organization while the U.S. did, this would not fit into ally law, just as it wouldn't fit, if the U.S. didn't recognize the YPG and its political extension as a terrorist organization despite Turkey regarding it so. The contrary cannot be true for allies. The confidence crisis in the U.S.-Turkey relationship can only be mended with a positive step taken by the U.S.


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