Turkey reiterates its commitment to NATO despite drill incident

Protestors wave flags and carry a banner during a demonstration against NATO military exercises on Nov. 18, 2017 in Ankara. (AFP / ADEM ALTAN)
Updated 20 November 2017
0

Turkey reiterates its commitment to NATO despite drill incident

ANKARA: Turkey remains committed to NATO membership despite withdrawing its troops from the alliance's drill in Norway on Nov. 17, the country's chief of general staff has said.

Turkey withdrew from the drill after the name and picture of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the founding leader of the Turkish republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, were used in an “enemy chart.”

Anti-NATO protests erupted in several Turkish cities of Turkey and a hashtag #NATOdanÇıkalım (Lets Exit NATO) pioneered by the Eurasianist Vatan (Homeland) Party trended on Twitter.

But Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar said: “Turkey’s alliance with NATO should not be undermined, and NATO is the most successful and most effective military organization that has existed throughout history.”

Speaking about the drill incident while attending the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada on Nov. 18, he said: “NATO administrators responded timely and appropriately. We should not allow anyone to undermine our alliance and our solidarity.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg immediately apologized to Turkey verbally and in writing to Akar during the meeting in Canada.

A NATO member since 1952, Turkey is one of the key members of the Alliance contributing with the highest number of troops and supporting 14 missions in 11 countries.

The presence of Turkey in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, with its Muslim identity, reinforces the alliance’s mission. With the deployment of 659 soldiers for peacekeeping, Turkey is among the Top 10 contributor nations in Afghanistan, while two Turkish diplomats, Hikmet Cetin and Ismail Aramaz, served respectively in 2003-2006 and 2015-2016 as NATO’s top civilian representatives in Afghanistan.

Retired Brig. Gen. Haldun Solmazturk, who spent many years serving with NATO, does not think that the drill incident will cause problems. The incident occupied the domestic agenda for populist and political reasons, he said. He hoped that relations between Turkey and NATO would be strengthened.

“Although the strongest military alliance where Turkey takes part is NATO, the relations between both sides have never been so warm,” Solmazturk told Arab News. “As a member who has equal rights and powers under the Alliance, Turkey should take appropriate steps to render its ties with the Alliance much more effective.”

According to Solmazturk, Turkey should assign specialized experts to the missions within NATO, and support its membership with a political will.

“For instance, each year NATO organizes summits where presidents as well as defense ministers and chiefs of staff attend. I would suggest that Turkey should make public its positions regarding the critical decisions taken during those summits, but so far it has not been the case,” he said.

However, Nursin Atesoglu Guney, dean of the faculty of economics, administrative and social sciences at Bahcesehir Cyprus University, said the drill incident did not target only the Turkish president but also its founder leader Ataturk.

“The intensity of social and political reactions that were given afterward are mainly grounded on the fact that this incident was aimed at the Turkish republic’s existence,” Guney told Arab News.

“The exit of Turkey from NATO would weaken the alliance to a great extent, especially in terms of Turkey’s successful peacekeeping contributions to NATO operations in Muslim countries like Afghanistan,” she added. “Even the withdrawal of 40 soldiers from the drill resulted in the failure of the drill scenario of NATO.”

According to Guney, given the increase of geopolitical uncertainties in its region along with the threats of non-state actors and the rising capacities of some regional countries to develop weapons of mass destruction, Turkey’s identity as a NATO member country is a powerful deterrence against present and emerging threats.


Yemeni PM: Funds from Saudi Arabia, UAE should be managed to achieve intended goals

Updated 17 December 2018
0

Yemeni PM: Funds from Saudi Arabia, UAE should be managed to achieve intended goals

  • The prime minister told the Saudi Press Agency that “Yemen has received large funds from Saudi Arabia and the UAE"
  • He also said any upcoming funds in 2019 should focus on supporting the economy and paying as many salaries as possible

JEDDAH: Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdul Malek stressed on the importance of managing funds to Yemen from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to achieve the intended goals.
He said the main challenge facing the Yemeni government lies in its ability to continue paying the salaries of its employees, and “this is what the government is working on through allocating financial funds in this field as it's priority.”
The prime minister told the Saudi Press Agency that “Yemen has received large funds from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the latest of which was the $500 million supply initiative, stressing the need to coordinate with international organizations working in Yemen to deliver aid.”
He also added that any upcoming funds in 2019 should focus on supporting the economy and paying as many salaries as possible, which will help the budget significantly.
“The challenges that will face Yemenis next year are big. We should not think of aid only, it is also necessary to think about helping the Yemeni economy and protecting it from further deterioration,” he said.
This, he added, also requires guarantees that contribute to the arrival of food aid, as well as looking into the activities and programs related to foreign organizations, with the aim of directing them to the areas in dire need of humanitarian and relief assistance.
The prime minister also pointed to the humanitarian impact that will result from the project of rehabilitation of the Al-Dalea road, which comes within the comprehensive humanitarian operations plan in Yemen and through the Isnad Center for Comprehensive Humanitarian Aid.