Saturday, 26 March 2011

Turkey-NATO Quarrel Still Unresolved

Reading around the papers today, it becomes obvious that there is still no definitive agreement on the extent of NATO control of the military campaign in Libya to be assumed next week. Discussions are ongoing.

What seems clear, however, is that NATO will have full control of the no-fly zone and the sea embargo. This is uncontroversial mainly because there is nothing really to be done there. Libya no longer has any significant functional military aircraft and the prospect of Gaddafi getting weapons shipments by sea is remote.

The question of whether NATO will have full control of the bombing of ground targets in Libya has not been resolved, however. It looks as though Sarkozy is pushing for decision-making authority to remain in the hands of a smaller group of nations who are actively participating in the strikes. This would exclude Turkey because it is taking no part in the bombing campaign and opposes it in principle.

As I suspected in a previous post, therefore, what looked at first sight like a complete victory for Turkey, in gaining veto power over the strikes, is in fact not so, because of the authority being claimed for this smaller group of nations which will be making the final decisions, supposedly taking the views of other NATO countries (and perhaps a few Arab countries too) into account.

As before, Turkey's motivation seems to be a mixture of religious bigotry - expressed in the form of opposition to bombs that could killed civilians in "a Muslim country" - and a desire to spite France for having been excluded from the original meeting.

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