In response to Syrian mortars killing five Turks on the Turkish side of their shared border, Turkey yesterday shelled a Syrian military installation and the shelling continues as of this morning. No one is more critical of the anti-Semites running Turkey than I am – but their response so far is measured and entirely reasonable.
While tensions have been high between the two neighbors for some time – including Syria shooting down a Turkish fighter jet in June – this is a potentially serious escalation. It forces us to wonder just who’s calling the shots in Damascus (why risk shelling a NATO ally?) or if each Syrian military installation is operating under its own rules of engagement; which would be, in technical military parlance, bad.
We’ve posted the views of various experts that the chaos that could follow the end of the Assad regime – an end that seems closer every day – could become a major destabilizing force in the region. This episode seems to be another example. Killing five Turks on Turkish soil seems like a pretty massive tactical error for a country already at war with itself. What other bad decisions are around the corner? Striking over the Israeli border? Using chemical weapons?