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Turkey wants Libya mission under United Nations umbrella
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 23 Mar 2011 Wed 10:22 am

Turkey wants Libya mission under United Nations umbrella

23 March 2011, Wednesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made it clear that Turkey will not send combat forces to fight Libyans and expressed his opposition to an ongoing military campaign by Western powers, saying foreign intervention in Libya should solely be a humanitarian one and under the UN umbrella.

“Turkey will never be a country pointing guns at Libyans,” Erdoğan told a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Parliament on Tuesday. "The umbrella for a solely humanitarian operation in Libya should be the United Nations," he also said. "The operation should be run on legitimate grounds."

Turkey is complaining that air strikes on forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi by France, the United States and Britain, have not complied with appropriate international procedures. Turkish officials are singling out French President Nicolas in their criticism, saying that a summit of 22 countries which he hosted in Paris on Saturday, went outside the UN framework. Air strikes on Gaddafi forces began within hours of the Paris summit, which excluded Turkey and was attended by the US and members of the European Union and Arab League.

“Of course, we are questioning and criticizing the Paris summit,” Erdoğan told his deputies. In earlier remarks, he directly criticized Sarkozy, accusing him of using the military campaign in Libya to boost his popularity at home ahead of elections slated for 2012, at a time when opinion polls show a decline in support for him. “Nobody told him to undertake such a role. He took this step on his own,” Erdoğan said of the Paris summit when speaking to a group of journalists aboard a plane while returning to Turkey from a visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday. “As far as we know, Sarkozy does not want NATO to step in. He wants the European Union to be in charge of the operation. He wants Turkey and the US out of the picture,” said Erdoğan.

France was the first country to attack Libya, initiating the international military operation in the country. The Turkish government, which has had a problematic relation with Sarkozy ever since he came to power due to his public opposition to Turkish membership in the EU, is frustrated by Sarkozy’s decision to exclude Turkey at the Paris summit. There are prospects that the Turkish criticism will win supporters in the international arena, given growing complaints over the chaotic structure in the command of the hastily formed international coalition.

The United States, which wants to pass command of Libyan military operations to allies within days, said on Tuesday that the implementation of the UN resolutions authorizing the use of force against Gaddafi requires broad international support. During a telephone conversation late on Monday, US President Barack Obama and Erdoğan reaffirmed their “full support” for the implementation of the UN resolutions 1970 and 1973.

“The leaders agreed that this will require a broad-based international effort, including Arab states, to implement and enforce the UN resolutions, based on national contributions and enabled by NATO’s unique multinational command and control capabilities to ensure maximum effectiveness,” a statement from the White House said. “They underscored their shared commitment to the goal of helping provide the Libyan people an opportunity to transform their country, by installing a democratic system that respects the people’s will.”

Turkey is also complaining that it had worked behind the scenes with both Gaddafi and the opposition to carve out a deal that would end the conflict between the two camps without resorting to foreign intervention. These efforts came to a halt when French warplanes began hitting Libyan targets on Saturday afternoon, when a Libyan opposition figure was still holding talks with Turkish authorities in Ankara on ways to end the crisis.

“We have been in touch with parties in Libya since the events first started. We were in touch with both sides. … We acted with maximum sensitivity to ensure that transition in Libya could be completed without bloodshed, just like it happened in Egypt and Tunisia. Unfortunately, this could not be achieved,” said Erdoğan.

The Turkish-French differences are blocking a deal in NATO, which has been trying to reach a deal on its involvement in the Libyan operation. Turkey is urging the alliance to review its plans to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya because it does not want NATO assets to be used to achieve the purposes of the current military coalition. France, on the other hand, does not want NATO to be in charge of the operation, arguing against US-led NATO’s political control over an operation in an Arab country.

So far, after weeks of deliberations, NATO ambassadors have been able to approve an operation plan for NATO to help enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya, but efforts to finalize plans for an alliance role in the no-fly zone had not yet succeeded as of Tuesday afternoon. NATO was meeting again on Tuesday in Brussels to find a way out of the impasse.

Erdoğan said Turkey would spell out its position regarding NATO’s role in Libya when NATO officials resumed talks on Tuesday. He also said he had spoken with the British and Dutch prime ministers on the telephone, in addition to US president, about the conflict in the oil-producing North African country.

Erdoğan had said earlier that he could support the NATO effort -- but only if it does not turn into an occupation. “NATO should only enter Libya to determine that Libya belongs to Libyans and not to distribute its natural resources and wealth to others,” Erdoğan said during a visit to Saudi Arabia on Monday. He also insisted that the operation should not result in a division of Libya and that military strikes should be concluded as soon as possible so that the Libyan people could decide their own future.

Erdoğan has offered clues as to what role Turkey might play in Libya. Rejecting any combat role, Erdoğan said that Turkey could contribute by securing the airport in Benghazi, the stronghold of anti-Gaddafi rebels; securing the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Libya; or deploying ships in the Mediterranean, between Crete island and Benghazi, apparently to help implement an arms embargo on Libya.

Sarkozy wanted to boost his popularity at home and for the elections.

2.       tunci
7149 posts
 23 Mar 2011 Wed 10:39 am

Gaddafi attacks rebel towns, US plane down

23 March 2011, Wednesday / REUTERS/AP, TRIPOLI

People look at a US Air Force F-15E fighter jet after it crashed near the eastern city of Benghazi. The fighter jet crashed in Libya overnight after apparent mechanical failure but its crew was safe.

Muammar Gaddafi´s forces attacked two west Libyan towns, killing dozens while rebels were pinned down in the east and NATO tried to resolve a heated row over who should lead the Western air campaign.

With anti-Gaddafi rebels struggling to create a command structure than can capitalize on the air strikes against Libyan tanks and air defenses, Western nations have still to decide who will take over command once Washington pulls back. The United States will cede control in days, President Barack Obama said, even as divisions in Europe fuelled speculation that Washington would be forced to retain leadership of air patrols that will replace the initial bombardment. "We anticipate this transition to take place in a matter of days and not in a matter of weeks,” Obama, facing questions at home about the US military getting bogged down in a third Muslim country, told a news conference on a visit to Chile.

In the first apparent air force casualty of the campaign, a US F-15E crashed in Libya overnight and its two crew members were rescued, the US military said. The crash was likely caused by mechanical failure and not hostile fire, it said.

In the latest fighting on Tuesday, Gaddafi’s tanks shelled the rebel-held western city of Misrata and casualties included four children killed when their car was hit, residents said, adding the death toll for Monday had reached 40. “The bombardment is focused on the town centre, and what is going on in Misrata is a massacre,” Saadoun, a spokesman for the rebels in Misrata, told Al Jazeera. “The bombardment continues.” “The situation here is very bad. Tanks started shelling the town this morning,” a resident, called Mohammed, told Reuters by telephone from outside the city’s hospital, adding: “Snipers are taking part in the operation too. A civilian car was destroyed killing four children on board, the oldest is aged 13 years.”

Rebels pinned down in east

Al Jazeera news network said Gaddafi forces were trying to seize the western rebel-held town of Zintan near the Tunisian border in an attack using heavy weapons. Residents had already fled the town center to seek shelter in mountain caves.

Rebels in east Libya were positioned just outside Ajdabiyah on Tuesday, making no further advance on the strategic town despite a third night of Western air strikes on the North African oil-producing state. At the frontline in the desert scrub about 5 kilometers (3 miles) outside the town located at the gateway to the rebel-held east, rebels said air strikes were helping cripple Gaddafi’s heavy armor. But there was no sign of a swift drive forward.

When asked why rebel units had not advanced toward their objective, which is the eventual taking of Tripoli, Ahmed al-Aroufi, a rebel fighter at the frontline, told Reuters: “Gaddafi has tanks and trucks with missiles.” Commenting on the air campaign to protect civilians in this uprising against Gaddafi’s 41-year rule, Aroufi said:

”We don’t depend on anyone but God, not France or America. We started this revolution without them through the sweat of our own brow, and that is how we will finish it.”

Echoing rebel opposition to any intervention by foreign ground forces, he said: “We need the no-fly zone for them to strike the heavy armor. But if they bring land forces we will leave Gaddafi alone and they will be our new target.” Washington, wary of being drawn into another war after long campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, has ruled out specific action to overthrow Gaddafi, though France said on Monday it hoped the Libyan government would collapse from within. Obama did not spell out which nation or organization would take charge of the campaign, but Britain and France took a lead role in pushing for air strikes in Libya which have already destroyed much of its air defen-ses.


3.       tunci
7149 posts
 23 Mar 2011 Wed 06:47 pm

Turkey offers five ships, submarine for Libya

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