NATO has temporarily suspended its role in naval mission and security operations after France became embroiled in a major conflict with Turkey.
The country’s defense ministry says France will no longer take part in NATO’s maritime security operation, Operation Sea Guardian because Turkey has violated arms embargoes against Libya. But, a few weeks ago, France complained that Turkish ships have aimed their weapons at French warships in the Mediterranean, which Turkey has denied. There is disagreement among NATO allies over whether to support those involved in Libya’s civil war.
NATO-backed forces in 2011, the oil-rich country has been embroiled in violence since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was ousted. Meanwhile, Libya has become a major transit country for migrants from Africa to Europe.
The UN-backed government in Libya is currently fighting the forces of rebel leader General Khalifa Haftar. Much of eastern and southern Libya is currently under the control of Khalifa Haftar’s forces.
Turkey’s relations with France have deteriorated in recent months over the crisis in Libya, Turkey’s role in northern Syria, and oil extraction in the Eastern Mediterranean. But, there relations big crack about them on June 10th, When the French warship Kurbe goes to visit the Tanzanian flagged cargo ship Sarkin off the coast of Libya. Kurbe’s goal was to see if Sarkin was smuggling weapons.
The objectives of NATO’s ‘Operation Sea Guardian’ are to monitor maritime freedom and protect shipping from the threat of terrorist attacks. At the time of the controversy, the French ship Kurbe NATO was taking part in the operation.
The French Defense Ministry says the Turkish ship was guarding the Sarkin at the time. Turkey said the ship was carrying medical supplies. But at that time the Turkish ships were aggressive towards their frigate warship Kurbe. France has accused Turkey of targeting Kurbe three times.
Turkey has denied the allegations, saying the talks were friendly. France has called on NATO to investigate the incident.
On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said France was playing a “devastating” role in the North African country. He accused France of trying to “increase Russia’s presence in Libya”. On Thursday, he added that France should apologize for making such allegations about the Kurbe warship.
It is known from the faithful source that, “NATO is an ally,” a French defense official said after France withdrew from Operation Sea Guardian.
There is international support behind the two sides involved in the Libyan civil war. Turkey, Italy, and Qatar are in power in Tripoli at the moment and the Government of National Accord (GNA) is supporting them. On the other hand, Russia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates support General Haftar. France is also thought to be a supporter of General Haftar, although the French government has repeatedly denied this.
The UN arms embargo does not allow troops to be deployed in Libya and does not allow arms shipments. But it has been less effective. Turkey signed a military agreement with the GNA government in 2019 and deployed troops to the country in January.
Last month, GNA forces finally regained full control of Tripoli, largely because of Turkish cooperation. General Haftar is reported to have withdrawn his troops from the outskirts of the city.