US State Department press briefing - Turkish involvement in Libya

Posted: 03/27/2011
US Department of State
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QUESTION: So just going back to Libya for a second --
MR. TONER: Yes.
QUESTION: -- what is your understanding of where things stand at NATO right now?
MR. TONER: Sure. Many of you, I think, got greater clarity – we did a background call last night on this topic.
QUESTION: I think --
QUESTION: I think there was less clarity.
QUESTION: Yeah. I think there would be a lot of people who would say --
QUESTION: Opacity. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: -- clarity was not forthcoming.
MR. TONER: Well, I’ll take a stab. (Laughter.)
Essentially, what NATO agreed to was to assume command and control of the no-fly zone from the coalition, starting immediately, and has already assumed – and I’m sorry, had already previously assumed responsibility for enforcing the arms embargo. And obviously, yesterday’s agreement to assume command and control is a big step forward for us.
What also happened was that the 28 allies also authorized military authorities to develop an operations plan for NATO to take on the broader civilian protection mission under UNSCR 1973. And this decision to go forward with the planning reflects an agreement in principle by allies that this mission should be integrated into NATO’s command and control role, but it will not be formally agreed until allies approve the plan, which will take place likely Sunday or Monday – Sunday March 27th or Monday March 28th.
So essentially, there was an agreement in principle. It’s now over to the – you understand – obviously, you all know the political side and the military side – it’s been handed over to military planners on the broader civilian protection mission. Once they get that plan back, they’ll --
QUESTION: Well, why not do it all in one fell swoop?
MR. TONER: It’s partly the process that occurs at NATO. It’s the – like any international body, it’s got its own standard procedures.
QUESTION: Well, could you be a little bit more specific about what the problem was?
MR. TONER: As I said, there was – there’s agreement for allies, or for the military committee to begin planning, and for military authorities to develop an operations plan regarding the civilian protection side of it. Once the North Atlantic Council gets that, then they’ll reach a decision.
QUESTION: Well, as of quarter to 6:00 – 5:30 yesterday – this building was under the impression that NATO would announce the whole thing all at once.
MR. TONER: Right.
QUESTION: That did not happen.
MR. TONER: Again --
QUESTION: Why did it not happen?
MR. TONER: Again, it was an agreement in principle. But now it shifts to the military committee to develop a plan of action. They already had the plan in train for the no-fly zone. But they’re looking at – and they’re going to decide Sunday or Monday.
QUESTION: Well, I guess, why wasn’t the plan for the civilian protection --
MR. TONER: You’ll have to ask NATO about that. I don’t know.
QUESTION: Well, but you know. Why aren’t you telling us?
MR. TONER: (Laughter.) I don’t. I mean, I --
QUESTION: There are certain countries, or a country, who are members of – who are – that is a member of NATO that have problems with this. Why can’t you say --
MR. TONER: I’m sorry, your question again? There were certain countries --
QUESTION: Yeah. I’m just – I just want – trying to tease out on the record what most of us or if not all of us, know to be the case about the Turks.
MR. TONER: Well, again, I mean, look, what – the dialogue and consensus building that takes place in the North Atlantic Council takes place in there and is confidential. You’ll have to ask the Turkish Government if you want an answer on their stance and their position. What I can tell you is what was agreed on yesterday, which is a decision to move forward with command and control of the no-fly zone and a decision to begin planning for the other broader civilian protection aspects of it. They’ll make a decision on Sunday or Monday.