The conflict in Syria has been a running headline in the international news cycle for over a year. Beginning during the monumental Arab Spring that swept across the Middle East, the uprising of rebels within Syria have been fighting to overthrow the current Syrian al-Assad regime. The ongoing civil war that has gripped the Syrian people has left families bloodied, hungry, and homeless. Thousands of Syrians have been misplaced, and the al-Assad supporters have slaughtered tens-of-thousands of innocent civilians. So far other nations have not given military support other than weapons, but this may soon change.
Tensions are escalating between Syria and neighboring country Turkey after multiple conflicts between the two nations. Last week there were a number of conflicts between the two nations after Syrian artillery landed in a Turkish town close to the border. Syrian officials claim it was an accident, but after more shelling occurred Turkey responded with shelling of their own. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a hard-line stating Turkey will no sit by idly.
“”Those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake,” Erdogan said.
Turkish Military Chief Necdet Ozel followed the same line as his Prime Minister condemning the Syrian shelling of Turkish towns.
“We responded and if [the shelling] continues, we will respond with more force,” Ozel stated to the private Dogen news agency.
If Syrian officials didn’t take those comments seriously they should have. On October 10th the Turkish Military forced a commercial plane, en route from Russia to Syria, to land on suspicion it was smuggling military equipment. Turkey says that military intelligence equipment and missile parts were on board, why Syria refutes the claims. As tension between Turkey and Syria continue to rise, one has to wonder whether this will lead to US involvement.
Ok, so I may have lost you there. You are probably wondering what this has to do with the US at all. The North Atlantic Treaty Association, more commonly known as NATO, consists of 28 member nations which include Turkey, the US , and many of its allies. Part of this treaty is an agreement that a strike against one of the NATO members is a strike against all of its members. Should the Turkey-Syria tensions escalate to a point of open conflict, it is very reasonable to assume they will call other NATO members to their aid.
Now I’m not here to spout conspiracy theory or anything like that, just to show you that there is a possibility for US involvement in the Syria conflict. The United States has been highly critical of the Syrian regime and has supported sanctions against the government. US support for intervention has been blocked from security council members Russia and China, who have trading partner interest with the Syrian government. US troops are currently in Jordan training commandos to protect civilians from Syrian chemical attack. US officials maintain that they are merely “advisers not militants.”
The issue of whether the US should get themselves involved in the Syrian conflict is a hot button issue on American soil. Those who argue for intervention point to NATO involvement in Libya and Bosnia. Claims of favoritism, and questions over what it takes for Western nations to take notice have been raised. This isn’t the first time criticism has arisen over Western inaction in places of conflict. Darfur and Rwanda have been countries plagued by genocide for years, and they have received little help from Western nations.
Those against invasion point to the economic cost it would take for another conflict. There is also a fatigue in Western countries who want troops to return after nearly a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. These same opponents have most recently been point to the anti-American protests in many countries the US supported during their democratic movements. One thing is for certain, the Middle East will continue to remain in a center of attention throughout the world.