Not long after news broke that a senior Syrian military commander had defected with his plane to Turkey, it has come to light that a Turkish F-4 jet ‘vanished’ near the Syrian border. While many news sources merely describe the plane as disappearing, Reuters quoted Lebanon’s Hezbollah-owned television station, Al-Manar, who reported that the aircraft had been shot down by Syrian defences, quoting sources in Syria.
If this story is true it could trigger an international backlash. An attack on Turkey, a NATO member state, would be considered, as per NATO’s code, an attack on all member states. While the UN has not yet intervened in Syria, up until now wracked by internal violence, the possibility of Syria as a threat to others might well change the situation. While the UN is unlikely to ask NATO to go to war over the incident surrounding the F-4 Jet, it will not make them any more willing to compromise over their demands of President Bashar Al-Assad.
Turkey had, up until the recent violence in Syria, held good relations with the middle eastern state, but this friendship has been strained as of late. Their relationship will not have improved after Turkey began sheltering Syrian refugees, with numbers thought to be as high as 32,000.
It is clear that, more and more, President Assad’s failure to comply with peace demands is testing the patience of the UN. Countries calling for a stronger stance on the situation are becoming more and more vocal, with only the vetos of Russia and China preventing a possible intervention. And with the uprising in Libya for comparison, it may well be that, as in March 2011, Russia and China agree to abstain on a future vote on military intervention, allowing it to pass.
It is clear that the Syrian government continues to flout human rights laws and relentlessly pursues an increasingly violent program to try and hold on to power. How the international community will react is uncertain, however it seems clear that there will be a reaction. With the recent massacres of civilians and now the potential of Syria as a threat to other countries becoming apparent, the UN will be forced to act. As always, keep an eye on the news.