Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Turkey and France in row over Nato’s Libya role

French Mirage 2000 jet fighters are prepared for a mission to Libya (AP)

Attempts to reach an international consensus on a new command structure for military operations in Libya stalled last night after a row between Turkey and France over Nato’s role in the coalition.

Under a draft plan being discussed by ambassadors in Brussels, Nato commanders would have been guided by a political committee featuring representatives from not just the West but also, crucially, the Arab world.

But the talks broke up after a third day of wrangling after a row between Turkey and France over the precise role Nato would play.

Turkey is keen for the Al

liance to have a more formal role and stated role in any coalition while France is eager on a looser coalition using Nato's military command structures.

“Frankly it's all about political ego,” said one source. Another Nato source said Turkey, a Muslim member of the Alliance with big business interests in Libya, wanted Western coalition countries to finish their air strikes before Nato took over command, so it was not blamed for any accidents.

Further talks to try and resolve out-standing differences are expected to continue today.

Last night government sources suggested other Arab countries were “close” to joining the coalition including Saudi Arabia, which is thought to be planning to contribute to operations financially. Kuwait and Jordan, David Cameron said yesterday, had agreed to provide “logistical support” to the operations.

“What we're still looking at is a Nato-plus command structure similar to the one we have with ISAF in Afghanistan,” said a Government source.

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