Afghanistan, the crisis in Ukraine, the threat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the future structure of the NATO alliance as well as its response capabilities to crises and military conflicts are the main issues on the summit agenda
The NATO summit was held in Wales on Sept. 4-5 and comes at a time of pressing challenges and ongoing crises in the north and south of the alliance. How NATO responds to these crises will also determine the future abilities and direction of the most powerful military alliance in the world.
As a prominent member of NATO, Turkey was represented by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the summit joined by foreign and defense ministers. As leaders of the 28 NATO countries gathered with more than two-dozen other countries and international organizations, the current security challenges facing the world as a whole became the focus of the NATO summit. But NATO's response to the current crisis in Ukraine and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) threat is what will test the alliance's unity and strength.Four main issues topped the summit's agenda. The first was Afghanistan where NATO's International Assistance Force (ISAF) program is coming to a close at the end of this year. Afghanistan continues to face serious political, security and economic challenges. The recent election is a hopeful development but the political process is still fraught with problems.Everyone expects the election results to be announced very soon and the new president elected officially. Turkey will continue to play an active role by providing non-combatant assistance to the Afghan government.
The second main issue of the summit was the crisis in Ukraine. As expected, Russia's aggressive posturing in Ukraine dominated the debate with serious implications for the alliance's eastern borders, but also its future capability to manage emerging crises. The NATO attitude is clear on Russian aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, but everybody admits that there is more work to be done than just giving fine speeches.
The third main issue is the threat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the alliance members, including Turkey, have all condemned its barbaric acts of beheadings, summary executions and oppression. The problem is how to deal with this monster now that it has left its cage and wreaking carnage everywhere it goes. It is clear that one cannot defeat ISIS without establishing a sustainable political and security structure in Iraq and Syria. ISIS filled the security vacuum in Iraq thanks to the sectarian and exclusivity policies of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Bashar Assad regime also helped prepare the conditions that created ISIS and made it a powerful organization with weapons, men and money.
Iraq is working on establishing a new government. An inclusive and functional government will be key for a new political and security architecture in that country.But Syria remains the main source of the current chaos and carnage in the southeastern border of the alliance. A successful strategy against ISIS requires a serious focus on removing the Assad regime.
The fourth and final topic of the NATO summit was the future structure of the alliance and its response capabilities to crises and military conflicts. There is no disagreement on the importance of the alliance for regional and global security.The problem is the existence or absence of a common strategy accepted by all NATO members and what it involves for each member. Burden and intelligence-sharing, coordination and partnership are among the problems that the allies face in groups and as individuals.
These four issues have important implications for regional and global security. As we face the prospect of a new Cold War setting with the Ukrainian crisis, the global security architecture is likely to undergo revisions on various levels to respond to the current challenges and future crises.
As a member of NATO, Turkey has raised a number of key issues in regard to the security problems in both the south and north of the alliance. Erdoğan has raised concerns about the deteriorating situation in Iraq and Syria over the last three years.Unfortunately, much of the world ignored Turkey's warnings about Maliki's sectarian policies in Iraq and Assad's brutal war in Syria. Recent developments have only confirmed Turkey's concerns.
A comprehensive political and security strategy is needed to deal with the current crises and wars in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and beyond. This can materialize only when global security is considered as an integrated
About the author
Presidential spokesperson for the Republic of Turkey