Speaking to the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations on the quartet meeting of heads of state of Turkey, Germany, France and Britain, Ali Rezvanpour added that the Turkish invasion of northern Syria raised concerns among NATO member states and the security zone created by Turkey on its southern border with Syria does not have the support of NATO. That is why we have witnessed a war of words between Erdogan and Macron on this matter.
No Consensus on Definition of Terrorism in NATO
Another notable point of the recent meeting of the four countries was lack of consensus among NATO members on the definition of terrorism and its evidences, he said. For example, France has called the PKK and groups fighting directly against Turkey terrorists, but has not taken a clear stance on its support for the Kurds in northern Syria and has stated that he does not equate the different political and military groups with each other and openly disagrees with Ankara in this respect.
Rezvanpour noted: “Even after this meeting, Macron made it clear that France disagreed with Turkey over the definition of the term terrorism and its application to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, and there was no theoretical consensus between the two sides.”
He stated that the European Union could not take a common stance in condemning the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. He added: “Under Article Five of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), collective defense has been emphasized, but in practice we saw that although Turkish troops penetrated 30 km deep inside Syria no party resorted to Article Five.
NATO Does Not Support Turkey
Referring to Turkey’s plan submitted to NATO, he said according to Turkey’s defense plan considering that NATO is required to show reaction to any attack launched from north of Syria on Turkish territory Ankara has asked NATO to declare the Kurdish militias in northern Syria a threat against Turkey and designate them as terrorists.
After the United States withdrew its support for the plan followed by several other countries, Ankara announced that if the Turkish scheme is not approved Ankara will not support other defense schemes such as the Baltic and Polish defense plans.
Noting that there is division between Turkey and NATO leaders on Syria, Rezvanpour said: “We need to keep in mind that NATO needs Turkey because it acts as a defense shield to prevent terrorists from leaving Syria. Therefore, NATO members have to interact in their dealings with the Erdogan government on issues that have occurred in northern Syria, and to adapt to policies pursued to prevent terrorism from penetrating European soil.
NATO’s Internal Differences
He added: “Despite European concerns about Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria, the NATO secretary general said at a news conference that NATO leaders had not talked about the militias of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, which is a terrorist organization in Turkey’s view.”
Rezvanpour emphasized that the German Chancellor at the end of the meeting also referred to the differences between the member states regarding the issues with Turkey, adding that the heads of the four countries, Britain, France, Germany and Turkey only stressed the need to stop all attacks on Syrian civilians, including residents of Idlib. In fact, Europe wants Turkey to refrain from attacking civilians and the city of Idlib and to provide a suitable platform for displaced refugees in Europe to allow for the voluntary and gradual return of Syrian refugees to their country, but from their point of view none of them have yet been fully realized.
At the same time, he said, Turkey feels that as a defense shield against penetration of terrorism into Europe for years, it may emerge as the main loser. This in fact was the main reason for Turkey’s attack on Syria.
Europe’s Attempt to Appease Turkey
The international analyst, referring to the satisfaction of the negotiators at the four-nation summit on Syria, added: France did not refer to its criticism of Turkey at the end of the meeting, only stating that “we want to fight ISIS and we want to work together and have no conflict.”Turkey is a barrier to terrorism’s penetration into Europe and we must cooperate with it.” France seems to be lagging behind and wants to interact with Turkey.
Referring to NATO’s criticism of Turkey for purchasing S-400 missiles from Russia, Macron said, everyone has a responsibility vis-à-vis European security, and has some awareness of that. Turkey is a great country and it has a respectable culture and we need to work with Turkey.” Here Macron is actually trying to temper the atmosphere created between Ankara and Paris.
NATO’s Silence against US Looting
Concerning European countries’ silence on US looting of at least $45 million in Syrian oil resources, he said: “Because of lack of a joint decision-making structure among NATO members, the outcome of these meetings is not very tangible.”
“They did not mention this. The contradiction, division and disagreement among the members are quite clear.
Rezvanpour added: The EU is an economic giant, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has in practice shown to be a political dwarf.
NATO, with EU states being members of the alliance has virtually failed to deliver a positive and acceptable performance on tensions along its borders, the expert said. NATO is inconsistent in adopting a common approach on addressing these threats, and has adopted the same policy on Syria. The alliance has not even mentioned Trump’s pledge to plunder Syria’s oil because the United States has not allowed the EU to take an independent initiative on Syria.