Turkish protesters want Patriots out

Turkish people hold an anti-NATO rally in Ankara on January 20, 2013.

Turkish people have once again protested against the presence of NATO forces and its Patriot missile batteries in Turkey, expressing solidarity with the people of Syria.

Anti-capitalist Muslim groups and activists took to the streets of Istanbul on Saturday and chanted anti-NATO slogans.

The protesters say they do not want Turkey to be a NATO member state. They are also opposed to a war in neighboring Syria.

The demonstration in Istanbul came a day after anti-US protesters outside the Turkish prime minister’s office in Ankara rallied against the official visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in the country to coordinate plans to support militants fighting the Syrian government.

In November 2012, NATO announced a plan to deploy six Patriot missile batteries to “protect Turkey” from potential Syrian missile strikes. The Patriots are deployed by the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands, and they became operational in the southern cities of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, and Adana in February.

The Western alliance says the missiles are to avoid dangers caused by the crisis in Syria. However, countries like Iran, Russia and China have repeatedly voiced their opposition to the deployment. They say the move will only increase regional tensions.

DB/HSN/MA