Turkey recently launched Operation Claw-Sword against Kurdish separatists that they say are responsible for the Istanbul bombing on 13 November. It is a solo operation however. Why doesn't Turkey trigger NATO's collective defense article to get the rest of NATO to join the operation? After all, the September 11 attacks demonstrated that terrorist activity counts for NATO article 5.

Turkey has apparently threatened to trigger the clause twice a decade ago, but doesn't seem to have done it for this attack.

  • "to get the rest of NATO to join the operation" It's noteworthy that the collective defense clause mentioned doesn't mean that they have to join any operation. Maybe they wouldn't. Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 15:37
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    On the face of it, a reasonable Q to ask, reasonably formulated. No great need for DVs. Though I also agree with the reasons given by the answers, which are somewhat obvious. Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 21:15

2 Answers 2


Probably for the same reasons Spain never tried to invoke it against the ETA bombing campaigns: it is an internal political issue, not an invasion by a third country.

While it is true that the US triggered the article 5 of NATO after the 11S, it was by then clear that it had been an attack orquestrated "against the West" by an international terrorist organization. The USA hasn't invoked it against the Proud Boys or other organizations linked to the storming of Capitol.

Although I don't think there is an impediment to trigger the article 5 against internal enemies, rather than external, if you do so you're signaling that a) you're unable to manage your own bussiness, and b) you surrender your local policy to that decided by NATO - and you may not like their decisions: in the example of Turkey, a lot of NATO country members could be quite sympathetic to the plight of the Kurdish people rather than blindly obeying Turkey's orders of wiping them out.

  • The US and other NATO countries have cooperated with many countries to combat terrorism in the middle east, without any formal mutual-defense treaty; but this isn't always popular or successful. A cynic would also point out that the Kurds have more oil than the Turks, which may explain why the US and Turkey are sympathetic.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Nov 29, 2022 at 14:19

"Triggering" article 5 would mean that NATO members, individually and collectively, evaluate what armed force is required to restore the security of Turkey from outside attack.

There is significant tension between Turkey and some other NATO members about how Turkey is exercising domestic police powers in ethnic Kurdish parts of Turkey. (Or is it more like "conducting counterinsurgency operations"?) While Turkey would like NATO members to stop supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria, among other things, I've seen no indication that Turkey would want to turn their anti-Kurdish operations over to a NATO headquarters.

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    Turkey probably doesn't want other countries' troops involved in their operations against the Kurds, as there is a substantial risk they would uncover some Geneva convention and human rights violations. Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 15:43

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