- “We will be obviously looking to Turkey to be restrained in its response” —Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief.
- “Military intervention in Syria is out of the question” —Uri Rosenthal, Dutch foreign minister.
The US and UK used stronger language to condemn Syria, but words are not missiles:
- “The Assad regime will be held to account for its behavior” —William Hague, UK foreign minister.
- “The United States condemns this brazen and unacceptable act in the strongest possible terms” —Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State.
These reactions reinforce the Via Meadia view that military action is not forthcoming, yet. There is little enthusiasm among NATO nations for putting boots on the ground in Syria, and the meeting currently underway in Turkey will probably result in strong language but little visible action. The loud barks are intended in part to distract attention from the lack of intention to bite. Turkey and others will probably continue to escalate assistance for Syria’s rebels behind the scenes: the community of deserting soldiers and officers is growing in Turkey, which helps to deepen contacts with rebel forces fighting in Syria.Public and official opinion in the U.S., the EU, and Turkey is nowhere near ready for war. Expect more reports of bloodshed and fighting, not NATO bombing raids, from Syria over the coming days. With news of high level desertions and rising casualties among Assad’s security forces, the anti-Assad coalition hopes that measures well short of war will bring regime change to Damascus.