NATO in crisis against Trump and Erdogan

Divided and weakened by the American withdrawal from Syria, the Atlantic Alliance sees its fundamental principles questioned.

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Protected militia on 23 October in Ras al-Ain, northeastern Syria. UGUR CAN / REUTERS

The usual formatted speech by the Secretary General of NATO has not deceived anyone. It was not just a discussion "Open and honest", as Jens Stoltenberg said on the first day of the Alliance's 29 defense ministers' meeting in Brussels on Thursday 24 October. But a deep, virulent debate provoked by the withdrawal of the United States from the struggle against the Islamic State (IS) organization in the north-east of Syria, and the consecutive offensive of Turkey against the Kurds.

A "Major debate" opened, confirms a diplomat. It illustrates one of the most serious crises experienced by NATO, already strongly shaken since the arrival of Donald Trump in power. And this, six weeks of a summit of heads of state supposed to celebrate, in the United Kingdom, the 70 years of the politico-military organization.

The United States has flouted the rule they themselves hammered out: "We come together, we go out together"

In an attempt to calm and reassure, Mr. Stoltenberg stated from the outset that the organization was going to "Continue to support an international coalition against terrorism", including continuing to train the Iraqi army. But the Secretary-General downplayed the Turkish coup in the name of "The country's legitimate concerns for its security". "For Stoltenberg, it's a reflex of survival, it puts the cohesion of the Alliance first and foremost", decodes an Otan source.

This cohesion is in danger, well beyond the usual divergences put on the account of the healthy democratic contradictions of the Western world. The United States has indeed flouted the rule that they themselves hammered, in order to mobilize and then hold the military coalitions they lead in Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and Syria: "We go in together, we go out together. "

"Unusual" discussion

France, in particular, expressed its deep concern. "IS is reforming itself. Who will prevent it? Where are the Americans? We need a strategic discussion with our allies. We must reinvent a business model " said the entourage of Minister Florence Parly. However, it appeared impossible to unite the anti-IS coalition demanded by Paris. A three-way conference (France, Germany, United Kingdom), Thursday night, could only have a vague enough willingness to act in the face of the UN Security Council blockade on the Syrian file.


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