prevail. But the balance o conventional orces does not tellthe whole story. urkish planners must also be concernedwith Syria’s signicant arsenal o Scud missiles capable o reaching urkish population centers, including Iskenderunand Adana. In a serious urkish-Syrian conict, NAO’snascent missile deense architecture could ace a dramatictest. Any signicant threat to urkish territory rom thisquarter will be a key test o solidarity within NAO. Anactual attack would rightly constitute an Article V contin-gency or NAO.
High Stakes in Syria
But the risk o a large-scale military clash is perhaps theleast likely contingency acing urkey across the Syrianborder. urkey is already dealing with a large inux o reugees rom the ghting in Syria. Looking ahead, themost troubling scenario or urkey may also be the mostlikely one: protracted chaos and sectarian conict, leavinga security vacuum across the border, with an ongoing risk o spillovers aecting urkish security. Under these condi-tions, Ankara will be most concerned about the potentialor the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) to reestablishitsel and to conduct operations inside urkey rom Syrianbases. Tis would mirror the circumstances prevailing inthe 1990s, when the Assad regime hosted the PKK leader,Abdullah Ocalan, in Damascus and allowed the PKK tooperate rom Syrian sae havens. urkey came close to warwith Syria in 1998 over precisely this issue, and it remainsthe most serious ashpoint in urkish-Syrian relations.o the extent that Ankara deepens its support or armedopposition groups in Syria, Damascus may once again betempted to play the PKK card. Ankara could well respondby establishing a security zone on Syrian territory along theborder. Te potential or escalation is all too real.urkish stakes in the Syrian crisis go well beyond therisk o conventional and proxy war and the exposure o urkish territory to Syrian missile attacks. Even in theabsence o direct spillovers, Ankara must be concernedabout the consequences o the Syrian conict or regionalbalances and the broader geopolitical competition. Overthe last decade, Ankara has developed a stable and at timeshighly cooperative relationship with ehran. Tis era may be coming to an end. Even beore the steep escalation intension with Syria, urkish strategists and policymakers hadbegun to take a more wary attitude toward Iran. Ankaramay appear relatively relaxed about Iran in comparison toits NAO allies, but on the question o Iran’s nuclear ambi-tions, there are clear signs o a tougher stance. Certainly,urkey is seeking to hedge against the possible emergenceo a new nuclear armed state on its borders, includingthrough participation in NAO’s new missile deensearchitecture (also useul vis-à-vis Syria, o course). Anembattled Syrian regime that is even more dependent onits alliance with Iran, together with the prospect o growingIranian inuence in Iraq, reinorces the potential or astrategic competition along sectarian lines. For all o theAKP government’s afnity or Sunni regimes and politicalmovements, Ankara’s essentially conservative, status quoapproach to international policy will not benet rom thiskind o regional uture.
European and Transatlantic Implications
Over the last decade, urkey’s regional policy has beendriven substantially by commercial motives, supportedby multiple détentes with traditionally difcult neigh-bors. urkey and the region have beneted rom this shiin Ankara’s relations with neighboring states, and theemergence o urkey as a prominent so power rom theBalkans to the Black Sea, and beyond. oday, the unn-ished revolutions across the Middle East and North Aricaconront urkey with a tougher set o challenges, and somepotentially uncomortable strategic choices. Tis is notan environment that lends itsel to unilateral policies. Inimportant respects, it harks back to the Cold War era, inwhich Ankara relied heavily on its NAO allies or reas-surance and deterrence vis-à-vis hard security risks. Teserisks now emanate rom a dierent quarter. urkey aces theprospect o a prolonged period o chaos in Syria, a loominggeopolitical competition with Iran, and the conundrum o an Egyptian state dominated by the Muslim Brotherhoodthat may pursue a destabilizing oreign policy and may, ulti-mately, come to resent urkish inuence in the region. othis, one can add an unstable relationship with Israel, and amounting competition over energy resources in the EasternMediterranean.Te economic crisis in southern Europe is also part o theequation. At rst glance, weakness in Cyprus and Greecemight not pose a threat to urkish interests. But the possi-