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Libya Crisis Poses Challenge for Turkey's Foreign Policy

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TEHRAN, April 23 (ICANA) – The crisis shaking Libya and new developments in that country has toughly challenged Turkey's foreign policy in the region intensifying the view that Turkish diplomacy is centered on profiteering.
Saturday, April 23, 2011 10:33:55 PM
Libya Crisis Poses Challenge for Turkey's Foreign Policy

The stance Turkey took up on the ongoing turmoil in Libya was considerably different from the approach it adopted toward other countries faced with popular uprising. Concerned for its interests in Libya, Turkey has made statements on the crisis which are based on commercialism. It should be noted that Turkey has hugely invested in Libya (almost 27 billion dollar) and numerous Turkish entrepreneurs and contractors, technicians and workers are busy on working there.

Before the recent resolution [1973, authorizing all necessary measures to protect civilians] of the United Nations Security Council against Libyan regime was passed and the West powers launch air strikes against the army of Gaddafi, Turkish officials were opposing any military intervention in the country.

As the crisis in Libya was rising and Gaddafi began to massacre the people of his country finally in March Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that Turkey is both against the slaughter of Libyan people and foreign intervention. Moreover Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan stressed that military intervention by NATO in Libya or any other country would be totally counter-productive, which helps to explain the twisting policy shifts of Turkey's government.

The statements made by Turkish top officials and their foreign policy chief in particular indicate this fact that Turkey's position is rather in favor of Colonel Gaddafi and his backers than protesters and his opponents. But when the United Nations Security Council belatedly passed resolution 1973 which condemns the measures taken by Gaddafi in killing Libyan people and approved non-fly zone over Libya, Turkey was forced to back a resolution.

As NATO's operations and air strikes continued against Gaddafi forces, Turkey adopted an ambivalent position toward the issue of Libya, although it was mostly tended to Gaddafi advocates. Such stance led NATO members to increasingly censure the positions taken by Turkey on their military operations against Libyan army. They believe due to having economic interests in Libya and in order to augment its political influence in North Africa, Turkey is implicitly Stonewalling actions taken by NATO in Libya.

But rejecting such view, Ahmet Davutoglu believes a psychological war is waged against Turkey aimed to reduce the influence of this country in the North Africa. He insisted that Turkey has not prevented the operations for saving the lives of civilians and does not oppose the resolution of the UN Security Council on the issue of Libya's conflict, but it's simply against the military method adopted by NATO in the North African country.

Some analysts believe that the two latest NATO moves in Libya which caused the death of the civilians provided a pretext for Turkish officials to escalate their criticisms against the NATO-led operations which may end in the killing of noncombatants.

However one must bear in mind that by saying this, Turkish officials also refer to the massacre of civilians in the cities controlled by Gaddafi allies, as they announced their readiness for accepting 300 wounded people for medication to Turkey as a sign of support of Libyan civilians.  Regardless of minor disagreements between Turkey and NATO over the issue of Libya, Turkey relies on strengthening its diplomacy in resolving the crisis in that country. 

On the other hand, during the last two months, as the crisis in Libya is intensifying, Turkey is increasingly tended to play the role of a mediator trying to resolve the crisis. Within this framework when NATO's military operations against Gaddafi backers has elongated while they are still continuously resisting, Turkish officials have become more interested to arbitrate in the conflict as Turkey's government invited both Gaddafi opponents and his supporters for a visit to Turkey to settle their dispute.

It was an intermediary way which Davutoglu and his colleagues were seeking. To finalize Turkey's plan for ending the war and crisis in Libya Ankara gave the proposal which was based on an immediate cease-fire, to lift the blockade of the cities, retreat of Gaddafi forces, sending humanitarian aids to both Gaddafi adversaries and advocates, creating safe humane zones in Libya as well as preparing the ground for a democratic process to enable people to decide on their future.

Although Erdogan and his colleagues in Turkey's administration dauntlessly strive to extend their political influence to even remote areas in North Africa, but it's not clear to what extent their double position (toward people, Gaddafi opponents and backers) would benefit their country. One could say Libya poses a real challenge for Turkish foreign policy.

In the meantime perhaps the smart planners of Turkish foreign policy have neglected the fact that popular uprising in Libya is the result of the social and democratic demands piled up during several consecutive years in the country and Gaddafi opponents may find the approach adopted by some countries including Turkey against their own objectives, a problem which can seriously shake or threaten Turkey's status in the public opinion of the people living in the North African region. (khabaronline.ir)

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