Turkey's gun-running into Libya more evidence to support reconsidering its membership in NATO

Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron said Turkey was playing a "dangerous game" in Libya, citing it as further evidence of the "brain death" of NATO.  For some time now, Turkey has been working counter to the interests of its NATO allies, fomenting unrest and instability in global hotspots such as Syria, Iraq, and more recently Libya, whilst cozying up to Iran.  They have become a major threat to the organization's very reason for being, contradicting its one for all and all for one ethos. 

NATO was founded as an organization to instill military cooperation and stability in a world fractured and broken by war.  Theoretically, its members are bound by a common pursuit of a peaceful resolution of disputes and seeking to avoid the exacerbation of conflicts through reckless, unilateral action.  Turkey in recent years, under the authoritarian and increasingly anti-Western rule of Muslim Brother Erdoğan, has taken military and foreign policy steps that stand in stark contrast to these basic NATO principles.

Only last month, France and Turkey were involved in an incident in the Eastern Mediterranean, where attempts by the former to determine whether the latter's frigates were smuggling arms to Libya, in violation of a U.N. embargo, was met with hostility, aggression, and a lack of cooperation.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively minor incident; however, it is symptomatic of Turkey's increasingly belligerent view toward its NATO allies and points to the increasingly hostile role it is playing in Libya.

In January of this year, Turkey, along with other foreign powers, signed up to a U.N. agreement to cease sending arms into Libya at a much-heralded conference in Berlin.  Yet a BBC Africa investigation found that a Turkish ship, the Bana, had delivered military escorted arms shipments to the port of Tripoli mere days later.  This reveals an insincerity in Ankara's commitment to de-escalate the conflict that is staggering even by its own duplicitous foreign policy standards. 

The Berlin agreement was driven by many of NATO's key members, such as France and Italy, reflecting the organization's recognition that an influx of arms benefits no one except the patchwork of extremist militias and smugglers propping up the Tripoli-based government.  Turkey now appears to be using the leverage gained from sustained, illegal arms shipments to embed itself in Libya's economic future, with reports suggesting they've made direct threats to Italy's gas supply as part of that process. 

Ankara calculates that tipping the tide in favor of Fayez el-Sarraj's Government of National Accord will see it wield unprecedented economic influence in post-conflict Libya, whatever the cost in blood and treasure.  This strategy not only is rendering it complicit in the continuing destruction and loss of life the civil war brings, but sees it trampling over and acting in direct contradiction of its NATO allies, particularly Italy and France. 

Beyond Libya, Turkey has increasingly aligned with NATO's principal adversaries, in the form of Iran and Russia, forming an unholy triumvirate that seeks to loosen the rules-based international system.  At the start of the year, President Trump rightly called on NATO to take a more proactive role in facing down the network of terror and destabilization Tehran has built across the Middle East.  Before COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, the rest of the organization was increasingly falling in behind President Trump's tougher stance. 

Yet Turkey has spent years working counter to these efforts, instead cozying up to Iran, weakening NATO's stance in the process.  This has allowed Tehran to see an organization divided, rather than a united front willing to take on its destructive influence.  This, combined with their increasingly reckless actions around Libya, shows a Turkey that holds no regard for NATO's interests and priority.

Turkey has spent millions on questionable lobbying campaigns — sometimes on behalf of the government, sometimes on behalf of quasi-state institutions — all aimed at diverting attention and hiding its duplicity.  Increasingly, thanks to investigations such as that tied to Michael Flynn, or Turkey's attempts to exert control over Libya, Turkey's duplicitous behavior toward the U.S. is coming to light: it poses no strategic value if it undercuts U.S. interests at every turn.

Turkey, like other countries which actively work against the strategic aims of NATO and its honorable members, need to be called out.  NATO has long, and rightly, known that it has a Turkey problem.

Graphic credit: Pixabay.

Last week, French president Emmanuel Macron said Turkey was playing a "dangerous game" in Libya, citing it as further evidence of the "brain death" of NATO.  For some time now, Turkey has been working counter to the interests of its NATO allies, fomenting unrest and instability in global hotspots such as Syria, Iraq, and more recently Libya, whilst cozying up to Iran.  They have become a major threat to the organization's very reason for being, contradicting its one for all and all for one ethos. 

NATO was founded as an organization to instill military cooperation and stability in a world fractured and broken by war.  Theoretically, its members are bound by a common pursuit of a peaceful resolution of disputes and seeking to avoid the exacerbation of conflicts through reckless, unilateral action.  Turkey in recent years, under the authoritarian and increasingly anti-Western rule of Muslim Brother Erdoğan, has taken military and foreign policy steps that stand in stark contrast to these basic NATO principles.

Only last month, France and Turkey were involved in an incident in the Eastern Mediterranean, where attempts by the former to determine whether the latter's frigates were smuggling arms to Libya, in violation of a U.N. embargo, was met with hostility, aggression, and a lack of cooperation.  In the grand scheme of things, this is a relatively minor incident; however, it is symptomatic of Turkey's increasingly belligerent view toward its NATO allies and points to the increasingly hostile role it is playing in Libya.

In January of this year, Turkey, along with other foreign powers, signed up to a U.N. agreement to cease sending arms into Libya at a much-heralded conference in Berlin.  Yet a BBC Africa investigation found that a Turkish ship, the Bana, had delivered military escorted arms shipments to the port of Tripoli mere days later.  This reveals an insincerity in Ankara's commitment to de-escalate the conflict that is staggering even by its own duplicitous foreign policy standards. 

The Berlin agreement was driven by many of NATO's key members, such as France and Italy, reflecting the organization's recognition that an influx of arms benefits no one except the patchwork of extremist militias and smugglers propping up the Tripoli-based government.  Turkey now appears to be using the leverage gained from sustained, illegal arms shipments to embed itself in Libya's economic future, with reports suggesting they've made direct threats to Italy's gas supply as part of that process. 

Ankara calculates that tipping the tide in favor of Fayez el-Sarraj's Government of National Accord will see it wield unprecedented economic influence in post-conflict Libya, whatever the cost in blood and treasure.  This strategy not only is rendering it complicit in the continuing destruction and loss of life the civil war brings, but sees it trampling over and acting in direct contradiction of its NATO allies, particularly Italy and France. 

Beyond Libya, Turkey has increasingly aligned with NATO's principal adversaries, in the form of Iran and Russia, forming an unholy triumvirate that seeks to loosen the rules-based international system.  At the start of the year, President Trump rightly called on NATO to take a more proactive role in facing down the network of terror and destabilization Tehran has built across the Middle East.  Before COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill, the rest of the organization was increasingly falling in behind President Trump's tougher stance. 

Yet Turkey has spent years working counter to these efforts, instead cozying up to Iran, weakening NATO's stance in the process.  This has allowed Tehran to see an organization divided, rather than a united front willing to take on its destructive influence.  This, combined with their increasingly reckless actions around Libya, shows a Turkey that holds no regard for NATO's interests and priority.

Turkey has spent millions on questionable lobbying campaigns — sometimes on behalf of the government, sometimes on behalf of quasi-state institutions — all aimed at diverting attention and hiding its duplicity.  Increasingly, thanks to investigations such as that tied to Michael Flynn, or Turkey's attempts to exert control over Libya, Turkey's duplicitous behavior toward the U.S. is coming to light: it poses no strategic value if it undercuts U.S. interests at every turn.

Turkey, like other countries which actively work against the strategic aims of NATO and its honorable members, need to be called out.  NATO has long, and rightly, known that it has a Turkey problem.

Graphic credit: Pixabay.