Turkey’s Syria aggression signals NATO brain death - Macron

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has been experiencing a “brain death” due to weakening planning and coordination in the alliance, and Turkey’s aggression in Syria has clearly shown this, French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published in the Economist on Thursday.

Macron was one of several European leaders who harshly criticised Ankara for launching military offensive in northern Syria last month against Kurdish militias which formed the backbone of the U.S.-led coalition forces fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS). 

“You have an uncoordinated aggressive action by another NATO ally, Turkey, in an area where our interests are at stake. There has been no NATO planning, nor any coordination,” the French president said. 

“If the Bashar al-Assad regime decides to retaliate against Turkey, will we commit ourselves under (Article 5)?” Macron asked, referring to the requirement which states an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members.

Both U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops in northern Syria and the Turkish offensive meant sacrificing the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which spearheaded the ground offensives against ISIS, Macron said. 

He said pushing Turkey out was not in NATO’s interest, adding that perhaps the alliance should consider redefining itself.

“I think that, in the current context, it’s more in our interest to try to keep Turkey within the framework, and in a responsible mindset, but that also means that given the way NATO operates today, NATO’s ultimate guarantee must be clear with regards to Turkey,” Macron said. 

“What we have seen, why I spoke about ‘brain death’, is that NATO as a system doesn’t regulate its members. So as soon as you have a member who feels they have a right to head off on their own, granted by the United States of America, they do it. And that’s what happened,” he said referring to Turkey’s nine-day military offensive last month.