Turkey is expected to request that NATO defense systems be placed on its border to defend against Syrian missile attacks. Only Germany, the Netherlands and the United States field the appropriate surface to air missile system within the alliance.
“I expect that there will be a request from the Turkish government today to NATO to deploy Patriot missiles to the Turkish border,” Thomas de Maizière, the German defense minister, told reporters in Brussels on the sidelines of a meeting of European defense ministers.
The opposition in Germany is skeptical, fearing that the deployment of missile systems to Turkey will draw the country into Syria’s civil war which has raged for eighteen months. While Turkey has backed the largely Sunni rebels in the country, its European allies have shrunk from involving themselves in the conflict.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, insisted in an interview with the Bild newspaper that the government seek parliamentary approval for the deployment of missiles and support troops. The ruling Christian Democrat and liberal parties don’t think that’s necessary. “I am ashamed of my parliamentary colleagues,” Philipp Mißfelder, the conservatives’ foreign affairs spokesmen, told Der Spiegel. “To deny a NATO partner that feels threatened military support makes me blush with shame.”
The liberal party’s chairman in the European Parliament, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, told the same weekly that the deployment of Patriot missiles will not exacerbate the situation in Syria. “It’s a mystery to me how the erection of defensive weapons systems in the Turkish border region will deepen the conflict.”
Newly appointed Dutch defense minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert also expressed support for Turkey, telling reporters in Brussels, “NATO is there for a reason.” Her ruling liberal party is probably sympathetic to Ankara’s request but their Labor Party coalition partners may be reluctant to meet it.
Opposition parties in the Netherlands are in favor of deployment — “There is no question that Turkey deserves our allied support,” said Socialist Party lawmaker Harry van Bommel on Monday — although they do not with to be drawn into enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria.
The alliance deployed Patriot missiles to Turkey during the Gulf Wars of 1991 and 2003. In both cases, they were provided by the Netherlands.