Turkey Considers Deploying Missiles Near Syria

New York Times, By Tim Arango, November 7

Antakya, Turkey — Turkey raised publicly for the first time on Wednesday the idea of stationing Patriot missile batteries along its southern border with Syria. The move would effectively create a no-fly zone that could help safeguard refugees and give rebel fighters a portion of Syrian territory without fear of crippling airstrikes by Syrian forces.

In comments reported in the local news media here, the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, indicated that Turkey, a member of NATO, planned to request Patriot missiles from the alliance that would provide a defensive shield from incoming munitions from Syria. But the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet reported that Turkey had agreed with the United States on a plan to use the missiles in an offensive capacity to create safe zones in Syria.

In the weeks before the presidential election, a plan for limited no-fly zones in Syria circulated in Washington policy circles and won advocates in the State Department, a person briefed on the matter said. According to this plan, safe zones would be enforced by Patriot missile batteries under NATO authority and positioned in Turkey and Jordan.

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  • Syria conflict: Here come the weapons?

    New arms may be headed to Syria in coming months as Britain reviews legal options for supplying weapons to rebels and Turkey talks to NATO about Patriot interceptors

    CSM, By Arthur Bright

    The Syrian conflict could be set for an influx of arms in the coming months, as Britain is reviewing its legal options for supplying weapons to the Syrian rebels despite an EU arms embargo on the conflict, and Turkey is in discussions with NATO to deploy Patriot missile interceptors along its southern border.

    The Guardian reports that British Prime Minister David Cameron, recently returned from a trip to the Middle East that included a stop at a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan, has told government lawyers to investigate the legality of sending weapons to Syria’s rebels. Soon after the uprising began, the European Union enacted an arms embargo, forbidding shipments of lethal arms to either side of the conflict. But British officials say the embargo may include exceptions in the case of humanitarian disaster.

    The text of the EU embargo, agreed two months after the conflict began, says: “By way of derogation … the competent authorities in the member states … may authorise the sale, supply, transfer or export of equipment which might be used for internal repression, under such conditions as they deem appropriate, if they determine that such equipment is intended solely for humanitarian or protective use.”

    Cameron made clear he believes that stage may have been reached after he visited the refugee camp, where 110,000 Syrians are sheltering. “I think what I have seen and heard today is truly appalling,” said. “I think [with] a re-elected president [Obama] with a new mandate … it’s really important to discuss what more we can do to help resolve the situation.”

    The Guardian notes that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is reportedly being supplied with weapons by Russia and Iran, while the West has been bound to only supply non-lethal aid to the rebels under the embargo.

    More at the link

  • Although there was a notification back in ’09 that Turkey might buy a number of Patriot systems, I can find no indication that they actually went ahead with the purchase. By extension, this may mean that they are requesting the batteries, with NATO troops to operate them.

  • Syrian President Warns Against Foreign Intervention in Syria

    New York Times, By Neil MacFarquhar, November 8

    Doha, Qatar — The quarrelsome Syrian opposition was locked in extended bartering on Thursday over the creation of a more diverse yet unified umbrella organization that its foreign backers hope will become a credible alternative to the Damascus government.

    The basic goal is to create an executive body — with members within Syria and abroad — that can channel aid to nascent local governments in opposition controlled areas, bolstering their hold over territory wrested from the Syrian government.

    If it works, supporters say, the plan would help to both push back against the chaos in which jihadi organizations thrive, and to convince foreign governments — particularly a second Obama administration — to get invested more directly in the opposition’s success.

    “We have to find a way out of the cul-de-sac that we are in,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, a former confident of President Bashar al-Assad turned opposition activist. “We need to find a solution so that the Syrian opposition can deal with the international community through one executive body, rather than everyone with his own opinion, his own agenda and his own allies.”

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