Is the attitude of the Turkish navy in the Mediterranean a threat to Europe and NATO?

For more than a year, Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey has given massive support to the GNA, the government of Libyan national unity which militarily opposes Marshal Haftar's National Liberation Army (see our two-part dossier on Turkish involvement in Libya). In a few months, the human and material reinforcements conveyed by Turkey and Qatar succeeded in reversing the tactical situation in the region of Tripoli, hitherto besieged by the ANL and its allies. In recent weeks, however, Turkish support for the GNA has pushed Ankara into playing a particularly dangerous game vis-à-vis the European Union and NATO, which the navies seek to enforce. several UN decisions aimed at preventing the illegal import of arms into Libya.

However, since the end of May, French and Greek ships under EU and NATO flags have been prevented from carrying out their maritime control missions by Turkish frigates also displaying NATO call signs! On June 10, the French frigate Courbet was even illuminated by Turkish guidance radars, what Paris usually considers an act of war. An explosive, unprecedented situation between members of the same alliance, which isolates Ankara a little more and threatens the integrity of NATO, against a backdrop of dangerous wait-and-see attitude on the part of Europe.

military alliances | Defense Analysis | Cyprus
The Courbet frigate is used to escort and maritime control missions. This stealth frigate was reportedly illuminated three times, at close range, by Turkish fire control radars.

The strange journeys of the Çirkin cargo ship

The tensions between the Turkish navy and several European navies in the Mediterranean Sea all revolve around strange round trips of the Tanzanian freighter Çirkin. Built in 1980, the Çirkin is a 103m long ro-ro ship capable of carrying a load of around 6000 tonnes of various materials. Registered in Tanzania, the ship has been making numerous trips for several months between Turkish ports and North Africa. While it is still supposed to be heading for Tunisia, the Çirkin systematically ends up in Libya, and more specifically in Misrata, in the stronghold of the GNA. Better still, the building generally cuts its AIS identification system, and has been escorted for several weeks by Turkish combat ships and fighter planes, including in violation of Greek airspace.


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