World View: Turkey Invokes NATO Article 4 With ‘Territorial Integrity and Security’ Threatened

Political Parties Hold Rallies Ahead Of Turkish Parliamentary Election
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This morning’s key headlines from

  • Syria’s Bashar al-Assad admits that regime army is in decline
  • Al-Assad announces general amnesty for Syria’s army deserters
  • Turkey invokes Nato article 4 with ‘territorial integrity and security’ threatened

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad admits that regime army is in decline

Grim Bashar al-Assad gives national speech on Sunday (SANA/AP)
Grim Bashar al-Assad gives national speech on Sunday (SANA/AP)

As we have been reporting since April, the army of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad has been increasingly showing signs of collapse, losing one major city after another either to the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) or to the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front).

On Sunday, a clearly weakened Bashar al-Assad gave a nationally televised speech that was almost a speech of desperation. He said that there have been so many defections and desertions, that the army’s fighting strength has been cut deeply. As a result, the regime has had to retreat from some regions of the country in order to hold on to other regions of the country.

According to al-Assad:

If we thought we will be victorious in all the battles everywhere at the same time … this is unrealistic and impossible. We are forced to give up areas to move those forces to the areas that we want to hold onto. …

Are the Syrian armed forces able … to defend the homeland? Yes, it is certainly capable.

But the army in the first degree is a matter of manpower which would then utilize the weapons and ammunition. Everything is available but there is a lack of manpower.

The last sentence is presumably an allusion to the massive flows of heavy weapons that Russia is supplying to the genocidal dictator.

The question of what percentage of Syria the regime still controls was discussed by several analysts on the BBC. According to some reports, the regime controls only 25% of the country. That may be true, but much of the other 75% is most desert and far-flung rural areas where there are few people. Among the major cities and other strategic regions, the regime controls more than 25%, but less than 50%.

Right now, the regime controls Damascus, Homs and strongholds of Assad’s minority Alawite sect in coastal areas. If there are any further losses to ISIS or al-Nusra, then those will be very significant. So the question is: Was al-Assad admitting past losses, or was he preparing the public for future, more significant losses? That question is unanswered. Telegraph (London) and Reuters and ARA News (Syria) and LA Times

Al-Assad announces general amnesty for Syria’s army deserters

Sunday’s speech by Bashar al-Assad comes one day after state media announced, on Saturday, a decree for a general amnesty for military deserters who violated the country’s compulsory military conscription law. Deserters have two months to turn themselves in to take advantage of the amnesty.

It is not believed that this decree will result in a flood of defectors and deserters returning the army, if that is what al-Assad is hoping for. Daily Star (Beirut) and BBC

Turkey invokes Nato article 4 with ‘territorial integrity and security’ threatened

Citizens of Turkey are bewildered by the breathless speed of events. In less than a week, Turkey has turned from a country determined to avoid war into a country fighting two enemies in two countries. Turkey’s warplanes are bombing Kurdish PKK strongholds in northern Iraq and ISIS strongholds in northern Syria, with the threat of bombing Kurdish PYD strongholds in northern Syria, where they are fighting ISIS. In addition, security forces over the weekend arrested over 400 people in cities across the country, accusing them of been PKK militants, and a scheduled political rally in Istanbul in support of Kurdish rights was ordered cancelled in order to avoid violence.

On Sunday, Turkey invoked Nato’s Article 4, which allows member states to request a meeting if they feel their territorial integrity or security is under threat.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called a Nato meeting for Tuesday, to be attended by all 28 member nations. According to a statement by Stoltenberg:

Turkey requested the meeting in view of the seriousness of the situation after the heinous terrorist attacks in recent days, and also to inform Allies of the measures it is taking. NATO Allies follow developments very closely and stand in solidarity with Turkey.

Article 4 is less potent than Article 5, which recognizes an attack against one or more members as an attack against all. Today’s Zaman (Istanbul) and AP and Nato

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, Damascus, Homs, Turkey, Nato, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Democratic Union Party, PYD
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