The reaction from Washington was long overdue. More than a month after " the case of the Courbet ", in which a French frigate was taken for target, according to Paris, by a building Turkish military that was escorting a vessel suspected of violating the embargo on export of weapons in Libya, the american advisor to the national security, Robert O'brien, brought a support, measured at the France. "France is an ally that is very special and we want to support it whenever we can," pointed out Wednesday, Robert O'brien during a meeting in Paris with journalists, including those from the Point.
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" In these circumstances, it is not good to use a radar fire control against a Nato ally ", he added, without designating the name of the Turkey, nor to take sides for one or the other version of the facts. "Nato allies should not turn against each other. This is not good [...] We sympathize with the concerns of france. If one of our ships was "enlightened" by another country, we would not be very happy ".
No u.s. official had expressed since the incident between the marines, French and Turkish. Last June 10, the Cirkin, a merchant ship flying the flag of tanzania, is detected by the French army in the south-west of Crete. Escorted by three frigates of the Turkish navy using the area codes of the Nato, the boat, part of the port of istanbul to Haydarpasa, on June 7 to win the Tunisia, abruptly changes course to go to Libya. "This ship already had a pedigree ", says one to the ministry of the Armed forces. "He had already tampered with its identity, changed its markings to hull and changed its name to go to Libya. "
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In Paris, we are convinced that the Cirkin carries in fact of arms, in violation of the embargo decreed by the UN. False, responds Ankara, to which he makes only the transport of medical equipment. After the first two unsuccessful attempts of the marines, the Greek and the Italian, the French frigate Courbet, which participates in the mission of surveillance of the operation Sea Guardian of the Nato, approaches to turn the ship to control it. It is then that the buildings of the Turkish interposes, and " illuminates the Courbet three times with her radar fire control ", explains the ministry of the Armed forces. The final step before firing.
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Furious, the France bears the" case of Courbet " in Nato. But in Brussels, Paris finds himself very much alone. Seized by the permanent representation of the French, the secretary general of the north Atlantic treaty, Jens Stoltenberg, will first try to minimize the incident. It is only a "disagreement between allies," he says, all that the alliance does not provide for any mechanism to sanction or exclusion against its members. Worse, only eight countries, all european, of the thirty members of the Nato alliance, support France in its approach. Under the pressure of Europeans, Jens Stoltenberg ends all the same by authorizing the opening of an investigation. Classified secret-defense, it hardly seems to have given reason to the French part.
Turkey untouchable Nato
"The Nato report says clearly that, having regard to the information available to it, the organization is not able to establish responsibility in this case," says the diplomatic source in turkey. In Paris, we are chomping at the bit. "When our embassy in writing that the report has not established the facts, it may be that Nato was reluctant to conduct a survey in a clear manner so that all of the factual elements were reported," insists-t-on, before you insert the nail : "there may be a certain habit of nonchalance in relation to the conduct of Turkey ". Somewhat irritated by the case, France was temporarily removed of the monitoring mission of Nato in the Mediterranean.
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The episode shows the status of untouchable enjoyed by Turkey in the north Atlantic Alliance. Second largest army in Nato behind the United States, Turkey also houses on its land base of Incirlik, which is essential to the organization for its operations in the middle East. "The problem with Nato is that it is a machine that the u.s. has a habit of putting all the problems under the carpet, in order not to lose loyal ally turkey," said a diplomatic source in French. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also playing at the wonder of its proximity with Donald Trump, who confesses himself to be "a great fan of the president' in Turkish. The Turkish president is also the head of the foreign State that the resident of the White House would call the most, according to the confidences of the former american advisor to the national security, John Bolton in his book, The Room Where It Happened.
Trump mediator ?
" The president Trump has a good relationship with president Erdogan, and excellent relations with the president Macron, a true friendship ", pointed out Wednesday, the american advisor to the national security, believing that the resident of the White House could serve as a mediator between the two countries. "It can help to ensure that our friends and our allies, especially the French State, are safe and treated according to the rules on any incident in the sea. "
But for France, it already seems too late. Emmanuel Macron said on June 22 : the case of the Courbet is "one of the most beautiful demonstrations that are "of the" brain death to Nato ".