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BURAK BEKDİL > When burglar alarm annoys your neighbor

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The mini-missile defense architecture owned by NATO and deployed in southern Turkey, presumably to protect the Crescent and Star from the potential threat of Syrian chemical-biological attack, is now fully up and running. There is a slight problem, though. Six Patriot anti-missile batteries simply cannot protect a vast land and its 3.5 million inhabitants from ballistic missiles with quite unpleasant warheads.
 
In fact, the Patriot umbrella will not be protecting 3.5 million Turks, but a U.S.-owned, NATO-assigned radar deployed last year in Kürecik near Malatya province – and not from Syria, but primarily from Iranian ballistic missiles.
 
NATO’s New Year’s gift to Turkey is an early warning missile detection and tracking radar system that is now sitting at Kürecik and whose mission is to provide U.S. naval assets in the Mediterranean with early warning and tracking information in case of an Iranian missile launch targeting an ally or a friendly country, including Israel. This should explain the quiet U.S. encouragement for the deployment of the Patriots in areas near the NATO radar in Turkey. Anti-missile protection over Kurecik is essential for the alliance.
 
Never mind if Turkish and NATO officials claim that the location of the Patriot batteries (Adana, Gaziantep and Kahramanmaraş) and the radar at Kürecik makes any connection between the two impossible. A connection between the two is possible simply because the Patriot is a road mobile system: It takes minutes to dismantle a battery, say in Kahramanmaras, and re-deploy it closer to Kürecik in a matter of hours. This can be done quite discreetly (the distance between Kahramanmaras and Kurecik is about 200 kilometres).
 
Iran, and to a certain extent Russia, has not been deeply annoyed by the deployment of the Patriots because the Mullahs in Tehran –or the Kremlin– want 3.5 million Turks to die under Syrian chemical-biological warheads. Tehran and Moscow are deeply annoyed because they view both the radar at Kürecik and the Patriots that guard it as a threat to their own (offensive) missile capabilities, which the NATO assets now stationed in Turkey can theoretically – and probably practically too – neutralize (the only theoretical vulnerability is if Iran launched its Sejil missiles from a distance of 1,600 - 1,700 kilometers, but then the words “Iranian missile” and “precision” can hardly come together).
 
It was not a coincidence that Iran’s army chief of staff, Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, warned NATO in December that stationing the Patriot batteries in Turkey “was setting the stage for world war.” But calm down general, you are speaking of “a world war” like you are speaking of a “world news bulletin.” Patriots can be very un-patriotic for your holy Shia ambitions, but as you know very well they are not missiles to attack but assets to defend against missile attacks – potentially your missile attacks.
 
In other words, dear general, the Patriots will never be launched for defense unless you launch your missiles to attack. Or is your anger over early warning systems and defensive assets being deployed in neighboring Turkey betraying your intentions to attack? Think for a moment why do other countries in the region, including those with which Turkey has previously had hostile relations like Cyprus, Israel and Armenia not exhibit any sign of concern?
 
Iran’s unease over the deployment of the NATO radar and the mini missile defense architecture that will protect it from enemy fire looks like your neighbor protesting and threatening to fight just because you have installed burglar alarms at your home. Why should your neighbor go crazy because you now have a burglar alarm? Is he intending to rob your house? If not, why is he speaking of an all-out fight in the neighborhood just because you now have a burglar alarm at home?
 
Too hard to guess?

February/20/2013

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