Dutch Parliament supports cancellation of NATO Article 5 for Turkey as a consequence of the Turkish invasion in Syria

On 17 October, The Dutch Parliament supported the cancellation of NATO Article 5 for Turkey as a consequence of the Turkish invasion in Syria. The intention behind the Parliament decision is to deny Turkey any right to call the mutual defense clause of NATO (Article 5) as long as Turkey is still in North-East Syria. Essentially, the Dutch Parliament says that The Netherlands will not help Turkey even if the conflict goes back across the border into Turkey effectively freezing out Turkey of the key clause of NATO. 

The Dutch lawmakers approved two motions (tabled by Christian Union and the Socialist Party): one rejected any NATO Article 5 request from Turkey as a consequence of its invasion in Syria and the other calls for continuing cooperation with the SDF.

A potential attack on Turkey by the Syrian army of allied actors in the conflict could lead to Turkey invoking NATO’s Article 5 – collective self-defence. Under Article 5, an attack against a NATO member is considered an attack against all, and so far, has only been utilised once in the Treaty’s history (after 9/11)“, writes Thomas O. Falk on Inside Over.

Erdogan said “We are a NATO ally. Please note that these countries are all NATO countries.” He added “Whose side should they be on, according to Article 5?”

What does the article 5 say?

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.

Why Dutch Parliament does’t want to apply article 5?

There isn’t a case of an attack against Turkey. Turkey started an attack against the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces after another NATO member- the US – abandoned the SDF and created the opportunity for the Turkish attack, in the north and east Syria. In no way this attack could be seen as provoked by SDF. Another reason that could have pushed the Dutch lawmakers to approve the motion is that they consider inconceivable that an European NATO Member States will send forces to Turkey as long as Turkey is fighting in cooperation with jihadists in parts of Syria, including Idlib.

Basically, there hasn’t been an attack on Turkey. Turkey wasn’t occupying the territory of Northern Syria when the treaty entered into service. So it’s not the case that Treaty Article 5 can be invoked if a country is invading someone else territory and then comes under attack of a foreign country.

Dutch Prime Minister Rutte says Turkey is still indispensable NATO ally

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pointed out during the debate about the Turkish invasion that the cancellation of Article 5 is not possible for one Member State. Removing a member from the alliance is also not possible. According to Rutte, Turkey is a difficult ally, but it is a strong and indispensable one, De Telegraaf reported. His party (VVD) voted against the motion. At the same time the majority of the coalition voted for the motion, making it very unlikely that The Netherlands would respond positively at a NATO Article 5 request from Turkey if the conflict would enter that stage.

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