En route to attend the NATO Council meeting in Brussels where the announcement was made that Patriots will be supplied to Turkey, Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made a series of critical remarks regarding the level of threat from Syria and the measures to prevent it.
Explaining that Turkey is aware of both the number of missiles Assad has to operate with as well as the location where they are being kept, Davutoğlu says that they have devised a "probability plan," especially geared towards protecting against risks derived from uncontrolled smaller groups. Referring to the Baghdad-Erbil line as "critical," Davutoğlu states, "We are just as concerned for Iraq as we are for Syria."
En route to Brussels, Davutoğlu relayed the following remarks:
700 MISSILES: "The situation in Syria has gone beyond the psychological threshold. In the past there was the fear that if the regime remains in power they will seek revenge. Now, everyone's concerns are, 'what we will do if the regime goes?' There is an unraveling. The reason that we are taking on the Patriot measure is due to the potential actions of uncontrolled groups. A number of efforts have been made to bring Turkey on as an intervening party. We have consistently acted with deliberateness. Right now we know where those missiles are, how they are being stored and whose hands they are in. Assad has approximately 700 missiles. In fact, there are even some that are long-range."
THREE DIMENSIONAL SECURITY: "The issue of deploying Patriots has been discussed entirely within a military necessity framework. Turkey has certain needs and the NATO Patriots have that capacity. Efforts are to find the optimum solutions between the two. 'How can we ensure maximum protection?' That is the question being worked on. When it comes to numbers, the issue is not a deviation of views. Quite the contrary, efforts are being finalized to establish, 'How many Patriot missiles can be supplied and where they will be positioned.' A plan has been devised in accordance to the priorities dictated by the General Staff.
NATO says, 'Turkey's request will be fulfilled.' This does not solely mean the Patriot system. There are three levels. The short-range being the Patriot, the mid-range being the THAD (Terminal High Altitude Air Defense), while the AEGIS system in the Mediterranean responds to missiles which have exceeded the atmosphere. The framework for an integrated system to provide Turkey with maximum security is being drafted."
WE ARE NOT ALONE: "Up until now we have been asked if we were acting alone. NATO's ruling is a reflection of the collective stance. This is important for us. There have also been attempts at turning this whole process into a 'Turkey-Syria' issue. However, we have always acted with deliberateness. We responded when our plane was brought down by Syria and to the Akçakale incident. However, we have never turned this into a bipartite problem. The change in the rules of engagement is directly related to the violation of Turkey's border. We will do whatever necessary in response to what we perceive as being a threat."
A NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM IS CRUCIAL: "The Patriot is a defense system. We have been working closely with the General Staff to conduct risk analyses. When it comes to conventional threats, Turkey has a strong capacity of national defense. However, there is a lack of a sufficient system in place for missile threats. The very nature of threats has begun to change. A missile threat does not necessarily solely come from a nation. A group would also obtain missiles. Turkey needs to update its missile defense system both within NATO as well as on a national capacity."
SEEKING A FORMULA WITH RUSSIA: "We say, 'If there is going to be change, then this is a sign of an Assad-free era." We say, 'Assad should resign and let a transitional administration be formed.' Russia on the other hand states, 'Let a transitional government be formed, however Assad should leave according to the normal duration of his duty.' There is a consensus on the overall objective. It is the method that needs to be determined. A series of formulas that can act as a compromise between these differing views could be established.
Seven months ago, we relayed a formula to Syria via Iran; however they refused to accept it. Now, they are ready for that very same formula. That formula involved granting the transitional government full authority while allowing for the process to go forward with this government. As the opposition gains strength, they say, 'we are not willing to adhere to interim formulas after suffering this extent of a massacre.' What is important is for Russia to effectively enter this process. Russia's stance in the U.N. is a further determinant than even Iranian support. The entire situation will change the moment Russia is willing to reassess the situation."
THE BAGHDAD-ERBIL LINE
"The relations between Baghdad and Erbil are extremely dangerous. Six months ago, Maliki was going to go, however the Talabani obstructed it. Now, why has the divide between Talabani and Maliki increased? It's because Maliki has begun to use his presidential authority. Relations are now on a critical plane. At present, we are closely following the situation in Iraq. We are just as considered with Iraq as we are with Syria. Because basically we are talking about two organized and armed groups going up against one another."
This is a translation of an article originally written by Okan Müderrisoğlu.