Tensions Rise Between France, Turkey Over Naval Encounter

Arms smuggling cargo ship at the core of dispute

NATO is continuing to try to cope with internal tensions, as two major member nations, France and Turkey, continue to fume over a June 10 incident near Libya. NATO is refusing to comment on the respective allegations, which is likely to add to the differences on both sides.

On June 10, a French Frigate tried to inspect a Tanzanian cargo ship near Libya. The cargo ship was accused to smuggling arms, and NATO ships are enforcing that ban. Three Turkish ships, however, intercepted the French ship, pointed weapons, and flashed radar lights at them while the cargo ship got away.

France is presenting this as Turkey helping the ship skirt arms embargoes, and intimidating a French ship. Turkey says the cargo ship was full of humanitarian aid, and accused France of aggression against the ship.

NATO promised more investigations, but seems to be hoping this thing goes away. France is arguing for EU sanctions on Turkey, which seems unlikely, but reflects lingering hostility.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.