Perhaps predictably given Erdogan’s increased threats and foreign adventurism, cracks loom in the NATO alliance over Libya, leading to an official probe by Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
It started last week after France complained that Turkey is still breaking a UN arms embargo in effect on war-torn Libya. When a French frigate attempted to intercept a Turkish vessel suspected of running arms into Tripoli on June 10, it was reportedly “engaged” via radar, as if a missile strike was impending. The AP details, based on French defense sources:
According to a French defense official, the frigate Courbet was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking. The Courbet backed off after being targeted.
The French vessel was part of NATO’s naval operation in the Mediterranean, Sea Guardian, at the time of the June 10 incident.
Being “lit up” is is in reference to alleged Turkish radar targeting three times, suggesting an attack was imminent.
The civilian cargo ship suspected by the French navy of breaking the UN arms embargo was reportedly being escorted by no less than three Turkish warships.
Paris declared it a “hostile act” – something which Ankara denies. The French Foreign Ministry further accused the Turkish ships of “extremely aggressive” intervention against a NATO ally.
“We have made sure that NATO military authorities are investigating the incident to bring full clarity into what happened,” Stoltenberg told reporters Thursday, announcing the official probe.
Starting last year Turkey very publicly ramped up military support to Tripoli’s UN-recognized government, which had long been under assault by Gen. Khalifa Haftar and his LNA forces. Haftar forces weeks ago pulled back, finally ending the offensive, which many analysts attributed to superior Turkish military hardware and assistance.
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