Nato offers armada for Libya arms embargo | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 24, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 24, 2011

Nato offers armada for Libya arms embargo

Nato nations yesterday offered an armada of ships and submarines to enforce an arms embargo against Libya, as Western allies sought to settle a row over the organisation's role in a no-fly zone.
Six nations agreed to contribute up to 16 vessels to prevent Muammar Gaddafi from bringing in weapons from the Mediterranean, with Turkey offering five warhips and a submarine despite its reservations about the military campaign.
The Nato mission will have the means to intercept and board suspicious ships, and the authority to fire a warning shot across the bow of vessels trying to slip away, a Nato official said on condition of anonymity.
But the 28-nation alliance was still undecided over its possible role in a no-fly zone.
France has resisted giving Nato command of the international campaign, saying operations led under the flag of the Western alliance could alienate Arab nations that it wants to bring into the action.
After days of sometimes heated debate, Nato ambassadors were holding new talks yesterday on the question. "Discussions are continuing at Nato in a positive spirit," Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said.
Eager to hand over the lead for the mission, the United States said Tuesday that the United States, France and Britain all agreed Nato should play a "key role" in the future command structure.
An arrangement proposed by France would give a special committee of foreign ministers from the international coalition political control of the mission, with Arab participation.
A French diplomatic source said the no-fly mandate could be run out of Nato's naval base in Naples, Italy, now serving as the command base for the arms embargo.
"Those who are members of Nato want to see a role for Nato," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. "But we also want to integrate our other partners."
The Western coalition wants Arab nations to join the operation.
Kuwait and Jordan have agreed to provide a logistical contribution to the international coalition.
"The French are right to warn that the symbolic and political weight of Nato in political control of this campaign would be very badly seen in the Arab world," French security analyst Heisbourg said.
"Nato is the institutional incarnation of the West," Heisbourg said. "There's nothing more Western than Nato."

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