MURAT YETKİN > Turkish government upgrades military readiness

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The Turkish government has put its armed forces into a “high state of readiness” because of the tension along the border with Syria, a high-ranking official told the Hürriyet Daily News. The source, who asked not to be named, said the government decision was based on the authority given by Parliament on Oct. 5 after a shell fired from civil war-hit Syria killed 5 civilians in the Turkish border town of Akçakale the night of Oct. 3.

That explains the recent Turkish military buildup along the 910-kilometer joint border with Syria. It’s not only the land forces; the pictures of heavy artillery, tank and air defense units have been all over the Turkish media for days. But the Diyarbakır air base in southeast Turkey is reinforced with F-16 wings from the bases in western Anatolia and the navy has put the word out that fully equipped warships have sailed to the Mediterranean Sea; all of this implies pressure on Syria. Moreover, Gen. Necdet Özel, the chief of Turkish General Staff, has been inspecting the border positions, town by town, post by post since Oct. 8, Monday evening. Besides being unusually long for such practices, it unusually turned into a publicity event. Gen. Özel has visited the house which was hit by the Syrian shell, talked to the father who lost his wife and kids there, promised him that if that was repeated a stronger response would be given and talked to young people on streets and raised his right fist with “We’ll show them”-type words to convince them that the military was ready to protect them. To repeat, this is unusually public even for the Turkish army.

It appears that the general with his brass has started this tour following a government order to upgrade the Turkish Armed Forces’ state of readiness for war to a higher level; higher than the one imposed by changing the rules of engagement along the border after Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 reconnaissance plane with two pilots in June. Earlier on Oct. 8 there was a Cabinet meeting, and President Abdullah Gül said the worst case scenario is happening in Syria and both he and the government were in close contact with the chief of General Staff to assess the threat situation from Syria.

The Daily News source said that before the shell incident the government had already formulated the “threats to national security stemming from the situation in Syria.” Those are, in the order of importance, the threat of terrorism because of the border becoming highly vulnerable due to the civil war in Syria, the flood of refugees exceeding 99,000 officially with some 30,000 estimated more unofficially and the possibility that the crisis in Syria might spread to neighboring countries.

An interesting point here is the “terrorist threat” becoming more important than the “flood of refugees,” which was number one, up until a month ago. Security sources point out that increased activities of both groups affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria and al-Qaeda and affiliated groups taking advantage of the power vacuum there played a role in this new assessment.

“We neither want war, nor escalation of tension,” the high-ranking source underlines. “But we want to give a strong message to the Syrian regime that Turkey is determined to protect its borders and people and ready to do whatever necessary; that is the meaning of a high level of readiness.”


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mara mcglothin

10/12/2012 12:13:36 AM

And the boogeyman is hiding around every corner. If they truly want to "upgrade" the military then they should let the generals out of jail! USOBSERVER I wish we could practice what Jefferson said. Where would the World be if we did?

Mark Tak

10/11/2012 5:17:53 PM

We have witnessed this during the past week. The Turkish government is permitting the Islamists from outside Syria, organized by the CIA and Israel, to attack Syria from Turkish territory. On several occasions a mortar shell has, according to news reports if you believe them, fallen just inside the Turkey border. The Turkish military has used the excuse to launch artillery barrages into Syria

Blue Dotterel

10/11/2012 5:02:21 PM

@ US observer, To bad the US has ignored Jefferson's words.

Blue Dotterel

10/11/2012 2:51:04 PM

Its a given that Turkey and NATO want war since they have been arming the mercenaries in Syria, indeed flying them in and ushering them across Turkey's border with Syria, since the beginning. They are not interested in who fired the mortar from Syria, if it even was fired from Syria. This reeks of a false flag. If a war occurs between Turkey and Syria, NATO will have its cue to enter. This has been the obvious objective from the beginning - destroying Syria

Geoge McGregor

10/11/2012 2:36:19 PM

It is about time that Turkey is taking an active role protecting Turkey’s interests. Readiness of the arm forces will send a message to Syria Iran El Kayida and to the Kurds. It even may help to stop the PKK and the Syrian army forces from shelling the border. Peace by force always works.

US Observer

10/11/2012 2:22:14 PM

Well Alex, Turkey has a jet downed, civilians killed, and artillery shells fired on its soil. Syria, with Russias backing, have not exactly tried to help their situation in regard to Turkey. "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none. – Thomas Jefferson"

Alex Kader

10/11/2012 9:06:50 AM

"Turkish government upgrades military readiness”, Ready for what! To beat up one poor country which is suffering from a fabricated civil war designed by the close neighbour? Poor Syrian citizens, They did not know it was a bad-luck to have borders with Turkey. Even Israel is not as hostile as Turkish government against Syria. I believe that Turkish government try to cover up the things such as PKK problem, failed economy, wounded democracy and the lack of freedoms.
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