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France quits NATO mission over Turkey’s intervention in Libyan crisis

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After raising a series of warning against Turkey’s military intrusion in Libyan crisis, France decided to quit NATO naval mission on temporary basis. French Ambassador to NATO Muriel Domenach informed about the country’s decision to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in a letter on Tuesday. She told him that France would be suspending its support to Operation Sea Guardian, a NATO navy mission meant to enforce an arms embargo on Libya.

France’s decision came after a clash was reported between French and Turkish warships in mid-June. French officials claimed that Turkish frigates attacked a French warship last month when the latter was trying to inspect a cargo ship suspected of carrying weapons to Libya. Though Ankara denied French allegations.

On Wednesday, Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, in a French parliamentary hearing said that he would take the matter to European Union and would meet his EU counterparts on July 13 to discuss possible ways of preventing Turkey’s militarisation of the region. As per the reports, new sanctions could be imposed on Ankara. These would be add on to the sanctions or preventive measures the bloc levied to stop Turkey’s drilling for hydrocarbons in Cyprus waters, an EU member.

The current move is believed to have further intensified friction between the NATO allies, France and Turkey. Besides, last month French President Emmanuel Macron, disappointed of the transatlantic military alliance’s efforts against Turkey, called NATO “brain dead” as the military alliance remained unresponsive to Erdogan’s invasion of northern Syria last year, and Libya this year.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who officially joined Libyan civil war in January, entered a military agreement with UN-recognised Government of National Accord, led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj to support it in terms of training, weapons and manpower in order to combat the rival forces of Libyan National Army. Erdogan has been accused of taking advantage of the African country’s vulnerability just as he did incase of Syria. Turkey deployed its military forces and Syrian militias in Libya to support GNA. Recent Turkish militarisation of the GNA and foreign fighters led to acceleration of the conflict between the warring factions of warlord General Khalifa Haftar and Sarraj’s.

Last month, French presidential office in its statement, said that “foreign interference, in particular the intensification of Turkish support”, including military assistance and stationing foreign fighters in Libya, which directly came in violation of the arms embargo, was preventing international efforts to secure a ceasefire in the war-torn country.

“These interferences are becoming very problematic and, despite our efforts, the situation is getting bogged down. This increasingly aggressive posture is not acceptable… Turkey is supposed to be a NATO partner, so this cannot continue,” the statement added.

Besides, Turkey has also been accused of blackmailing Europe and threatening it with the sparking of refugee crisis, as reported by Greece last month and trying to empower the Islamist extremists to set up lobbies in Europe and America

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