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NATO holding rare emergency meeting at Turkey’s request

San Jose City Council District 4 runoff candidate Manh Nguyen and his campaign co-field director, Mason Aguirre, talk while visiting potential voters on May 21, 2015 in San Jose. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

Brussels: For just the fifth time in its 66-year history, NATO ambassadors will meet in emergency session tomorrow to gauge the threat the Islamic State extremist group poses to Turkey, and the debated actions Turkish authorities are taking in response.

The extraordinary meeting at NATO headquarters was requested by Turkey under Article 4 of the treaty that founded the US-led alliance, which empowers its 28 member states to seek such consultations when they consider their “territorial integrity, political independence or security” to be in jeopardy.

It comes as Turkey’s security situation “has deteriorated dramatically,” Bruno Lete, senior officer for foreign and security policy at the German Marshall Fund, a Brussels think tank, said.

“The rise of Islamic State in northern Iraq, in northern Syria, has effectively destabilized the southern border of Turkey. But also domestically, the threat of terrorism has become very real,” Lete told The Associated Press.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who will chair the closed-door session, said Turkey requested it following recent “heinous terrorist attacks,” which included an IS suicide bombing near Turkey’s border with Syria that left 32 people dead and an IS attack on Turkish forces, which killed a soldier.

“NATO allies follow developments very closely and stand in solidarity with Turkey,” Stoltenberg said in announcing tomorrow’s meeting of the alliance’s main political decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.

According to official NATO records, there have been only four other so-called Article 4 meetings since the U.S.-led alliance was created in 1949.

Most recently, NATO ambassadors convened in March 2014 at Poland’s request following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

After months of reluctance, Turkish warplanes last week started striking militant targets in Syria and entered a long-awaited agreement which allows the US to launch its own strikes from Turkey’s strategically located Incirlik Air Base.