A Syrian Arab Airlines passenger jet departed Moscow, Russia Wednesday night bound for Aleppo, Syria. However, before it landed safely within Syria’s borders, Turkish F-16 fighter jets forced it to land at Ankara Airport in Turkey, heightening tensions between the two countries.
Authorities on the ground carried out a “thorough search” of the aircraft after the Turkish government received reports that the plane was carrying weapons, missile parts, and military communications devices. Although details of exactly what was seized remain foggy at this point, 35 passengers bound for Syria are still being held at Ankara while the Turkish government approves the flight’s departure.
The plane was destined for Aleppo, Syria—an area that has been locked in bitter sectarian violence between Pro-Assad and Anti-Government forces. As Syrian in-fighting begins to spill over its borders into Turkey, the international community is forced to sit and watch as thousands of civilians are killed and stability in the region deteriorates. On Monday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said the situation between Syria and Turkey had become extremely dangerous and urged the international community to stop the flow of arms into the region—the Turkish government has taken Moon’s words to heart.
Moon also added that the current situation was causing serious risk to the stability of Syria and its neighbors. Such statements seem to indicate that the UN may be setting into motion the steps necessary to initiate a General Assembly Referral. This move could ultimately lead to charges from the International Criminal Court.
Article 39 of the United Nations charter states: “[t]he Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken . . . to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
Has the United Nations already taken too long in showing international leadership? Shouldn’t this issue have been addressed nearly a year ago when Pro-Government forces in Syria began their crackdown on opposition forces instead of waiting for the violence to spill over to Turkey? Should the United States have taken a more active role in simmering tensions or committing resources to stop the violence?