Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Is Turkey Stifling NATO Action in Libya?

France and Britain have today been complaining about NATO's lack of effectiveness in Libya. French Foreign Minister Juppé told France Info radio, "It's not enough."

He said NATO must stop Gaddafi shelling civilians and take out heavy weapons bombarding Misrata. In a barbed reference to the alliance command of the operation, Juppe added: "NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations, we accepted that."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said NATO must intensify attacks, calling on other alliance countries to match London's supply of extra ground attack aircraft in Libya.


The Libyan rebels are in no doubt about who is to blame for NATO's lack of effectiveness: Turkey.

Earlier this week, the rebels turned back a Turkish ship carrying food and medical aid to Benghazi, and on Wednesday they physically attacked the Turkish Consulate in the eastern city.

“Turkey is blocking NATO attacks” on Col. Gadhafi’s forces, Guma el-Gamaty, coordinator for the rebels’ Interim National Transitional Council in Britain, told The Washington Times in a phone interview from London.

“We believe the reason why NATO attacks have come down in the last four or five days is because Turkey is vetoing a lot of them,” Mr. el-Gamaty said.


There is intense anger among the rebels about Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's perceived friendliness towards Gaddafi.

...hundreds of protestors took to the streets in Benghazi last week chanting slogans against him and protesting Turkey’s position on Libya.

Judging by what is coming out of that city – where the provisional National Council is based – many members of the anti-Gadhafi opposition feel that Erdoğan and Turkey are indirectly supporting the Gadhafi regime and prolonging its life.

Erdogan has absurdly insinuated that France was behind these protests:

Erdoğan was quick, of course, to blame outside agitators for the demonstrations in Benghazi against himself and Turkey. “We have noted who is behind this,” he said in a loaded manner, in what many interpreted as a dig at France whose flag was seen during the demonstrations.

This is paranoia worthy of a third world despot. It seems Turkey may not even get its expected financial reward from Libya as the Libyan government has sent letters to Turkish contractors who have quit the country, demanding that they resume work immediately, which, of course, they will not do. This has been interpreted as a prelude to a refusal of payment.

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