Syria as “the tinderbox of the Middle East”; Security Council press statement condemns Syria for shelling Turkish town—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #87 (October 5)

The U.N. Security Council issued a presidential statement on October 4 condemning the shelling of a Turkish town by Syrian forces. The statement has no legal force. The text of the press statement (U.N. Doc. SC/10783) is reproduced below:

4 October 2012
Security Council

Security Council Press Statement on Shelling of Turkish Town by Syrian Forces

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala):

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the shelling by the Syrian armed forces of the Turkish town of Akcakale, which resulted in the deaths of five civilians, all of whom were women and children, as well as a number of injuries. The members of the Security Council expressed their sincere condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Turkey.

The members of the Security Council underscored that this incident highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace and stability. The members of the Council demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated. The members of the Security Council called on the Syrian Government to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours.

The members of the Security Council called for restraint.


Syria as “the Tinderbox of the Middle East”, Turkey, and NATO

Should the attacks from Syria persist, or Turkey become embroiled in hostilities in which the cause can be characterized as “an armed attack” by Syria (by one or more large attacks, or possibly by a continuing series of lesser attacks), Turkey would be entitled to invoke the right of self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter in taking military action within Syria. It could also trigger the duty of NATO members to come to the assistance of Turkey in exercising the right of collective self-defense under the terms of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty (1949), which establishes:

Article 5

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Syria has become the tinderbox of the Middle East, in a situation in the region somewhat reminiscent of that existing in the Balkans in the summer of 1914.

See Raniah Salloum (Beirut), “Syrische Grenzkonflikte:
Angst vor dem Flächenbrand, Der Spiegel, 5 Oktober 2012.

A raging fire is burning in Syria, which despite the hopes of the United States and leading European powers, does not appear likely to burn itself out. The longer it burns, unchecked, the greater the likelihood that it will spread and produce a general conflagration in the region.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.