Now the conflict in Syria has been going on for months and, at the moment, there seems to be no hope in sight for the end of the conflict. Having began only an uprising against an authoritative government, the situation quickly turned into the ethnic conflict that we are witnessing today. The UN, divided within itself and hence unable to unanimously agree to a permanent or even temporary solution to end the conflict, has been unable to intervene and bring an end to the daily slaughter of civilians; which has led to the death of very young children and women. Additionally, there have been reports of women and young girls being sexually abused by members of both the government forces and the rebels.
Recently we have seen the conflict somehow spill into neighbouring Turkey. Over the past few weeks, Turkey has become increasingly agitated with the Syrian regime. As the fighting intensifies inside the Syrian border, mortar shells have landed into the Turkish territory on several occasions and caused death of Turkish civilians. Following this, Turkey has made clear it’s position on it’s relationship with its neighbour and has joined other voices calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down and give way to another more ‘human rights sound’ regime.
Turkey, being a member of the NATO alliance, has turned over it’s frustration to the alliance and appealed for assistance to have its border protected from the fighting in Syria. Turkey has argued that its border is under threat from Syria and consequently requested that NATO deploys Patriot anti-missile systems in order to protect its border. NATO has wasted no time at all and has said that it will consider the request forthwith. This response immediately communicates to the world not only the concern of the alliance over the Syrian violent conflict situation, but also the unity of the alliance. A clear warning to the Syrian regime to take charge of its own matters and avoid disturbing the peace of its neighbours. The alliance has shown that it is ready and willing to deal with Syria in a manner that the UN has not been able to, in order to maintain international peace and security. NATO’s involvement in the Turkey-Syria issue has certain implications for the conflict in Syria. Should the Syrian regime fail to take control of the conflict situation by avoiding the conflict from spilling over the border into Turkey, NATO will not hesitate to retaliate, on behalf of Turkey. This will either worsen the situation inside of Syria by causing more deaths and displacements, or will finally spell an end of the conflict in Syria if NATO takes a tough stance against the Syrian regime and takes it upon itself to forcefully remove Bashar’s regime.
However, how capable is the Syrian regime of avoiding conflict from spilling over into Turkey. The Syrian regime is currently embroiled in fierce fighting with rebel forces whose only objective is to remove President Bashar and install another regime. The two parties are working hard to take over and control key cities within the state. To the Syrian regime, stopping the conflict from spilling over into Turkey is not a key priority at the moment. They are only able to handle external issues once they have effectively dealt with the issues at home. As long as there’s fire at home, the neighbours will have to wait for the fire to be quenched and that whatever can be salvaged from the flames has been safely situated away from the fire. The neighbours in this situation are required to patiently put up with the consequences of the fire. That is, any dialogue between Syria and Turkey to stop any shelling, accidental or intentional, of Turkey’s border towns could prove futile.
On the other hand, how far would NATO be willing to get involved in the Syrian conflict in order to protect the Turkish borders? Getting involved in the Syrian conflict in any extent, will require the investment of resources. Whether the alliance will stop after providing the defence missile systems or after taking out Bashar, a lot of financial and human resources will be required. Majority of the NATO member countries are going through tough economic times and are having to cut down their budgets heavily in order to get their heads out of the waters. With the tough economic decisions that are having to be made at home, will there be any countries that will be willing that more money be spent on dealing with the Syrian conflict? It will be political suicide for any head of state whose government has put in place austerity measures to contribute finances towards efforts to deal with Syria. On the other hand, this is the perfect situation with which to derail a populace from the sinister economic crisis around them. With the current poor economic situation, removing President Bashar from power might prove a worthy cause. This is also an opportunity to showcase the unity and might of the alliance.