9 Mart 2011 Çarşamba

Ankara opposes NATO action in Libya as pressure mounts for intervention

Emine Kart        Today's Zaman  

Despite increasing calls from the international community to intervene in the escalating civil war in Libya, Ankara has stood firm behind its objection against a possible NATO operation in the northern African country, cautioning that the equation which needs to be solved in Libya has multiple variables.
Earlier this week, although noting that NATO has no intention of intervening in Libya, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also stressed the need for UN authorization for a possible intervention.    “I can't imagine that the international community and the United Nations would stand idly by if Muammar Gaddafi and his regime continued to attack their own people,” he said. On Thursday, Brussels will host a meeting of NATO defense ministers where the issue of implementing a no-fly zone over Libya is likely to be addressed.

“We are still against any NATO intervention. Not much has changed since Mr. [Foreign Minister Ahmet] Davutoğlu stated Ankara’s position,” a senior diplomat told Today’s Zaman on Tuesday, referring to remarks by the foreign minister, who said last Wednesday that foreign countries should refrain from military intervention in Libya as opponents of Gaddafi’s rule do not want such interference. “Gaddafi is still in charge and conflicts are continuing. There is an unusual balance where none of the sides have yet been able to get the upper hand,” the same diplomat, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity, went on to say.

In Benghazi, Abdel Hafeez Goga, deputy chairman and spokesman for the National Libyan Council, the rebels’ provisional government, on Monday called on Turkey to “condemn” Libya for employing mercenaries to fight against its own people, the Anatolia news agency reported on Monday. A local leader in Benghazi, meanwhile, also told Anatolia on Monday that they want to hear Turkey saying it stands with them.
In Ankara, the same senior diplomat pointed out to complex diversity among opposition groups in Libya and how delicate it is to have to make a choice among them as counterparts.

“Moreover, if and when Gaddafi is ousted or gives up power of his own will, we may see fights among these opposition groups,” he said. “With this many unknown variables in place, there is a need to think big, taking the long run into consideration. We also need to think case by case; Libya is not Egypt. ‘One size fits all’ is not valid here.”

The US ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, on Monday said NATO defense ministers should be in a position to make a decision on a no-fly zone at a previously scheduled meeting set for this Thursday “if there is a consensus.” Yet, he also noted that governments are watching developments on the ground and that some have not made up their minds.

“All of us want a Security Council resolution for that eventuality. That’s a pretty clear requirement. … We would certainly seek one,” Daalder said, when asked about a UN Security Council resolution to mandate a no-fly zone. “There are obvious risks with the no-fly zone imposition. Let’s say that a NATO aircraft hit a Libyan aircraft or the opposite happened and a NATO soldier was taken hostage by the Libyan side. What will be the answer to this kind of situation?” the Turkish diplomat asked, reflecting Ankara’s reservations about the no-fly zone idea.

“If NATO eventually decides to take action, it has to be carried out under the UN umbrella, otherwise this action may backfire. On the other hand, if the UN Security Council agrees on a resolution, we will abide by it as we have abided by resolutions on Iran despite not having approved them,” he underlined.


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