First Published: 2017-05-18

NATO considers joining anti-IS coalition
NATO chief says some allies believe joining US-led coalition against jihadists in Iraq and Syria, without combat role, would send strong signal of support.
Middle East Online

Stoltenberg recalled that all 28 NATO member states had joined the coalition individually

BRUSSELS - Some NATO allies believe joining the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq could send a strong signal of support and that would not involve a combat role, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.

US President Donald Trump meets NATO leaders in Brussels next week with the issue top of the agenda as part of his efforts to get the allies to focus on the terrorist threat and take on more of the defence burden.

Stoltenberg recalled that all 28 NATO member states had joined the anti-IS coalition on an individual basis while the alliance itself had provided AWACS surveillance aircraft to help its operations.

"It is now (being) discussed whether NATO should join," he said as he went into a meeting with EU defence ministers on boosting cooperation.

"Allies who are arguing in favour... (say) that by joining the coalition, NATO could send a clear signal of political support for the coalition and (provide) a better platform for coordinating," he said.

"This is not about NATO engaging in any combat operation... there has been no request and no one wants NATO to go into combat operations in Syria and Iraq," he added.

Stoltenberg did not say if he himself supported the move, apparently reflecting the sensitivity of the issue just days ahead of Trump's arrival.

NATO's top brass meeting Wednesday in Brussels said they believed there was "some merit" in joining the anti-IS coalition.

Some NATO allies, including France and Italy, are said to have reservations that such a move could lead NATO into a ground war and undermine its public standing in Arab nations.

There are also concerns at NATO expanding its currently limited training mission in Iraq for fear it could lead to it assuming eventual command, taking over from US forces as it did in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has turned into NATO's longest military campaign and although it halted its combat mission at end-2014, it remains heavily committed to training and advising Afghan government forces to hold off a resurgent Taliban.

The top US military commander, General Joe Dunford, who attended the Brussels military meeting on Wednesday, later suggested NATO could expand its role.

"You might see NATO making a contribution to logistics, acquisitions, institutional capacity building, leadership schools, academies -- those kind of things," Dunford, who is Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.

"I don't think we are at the point now where we can envision or discuss NATO taking over" all missions of the anti-IS coalition in Iraq, he added.

 

Regime strikes in Syria enclave despite ceasefire call

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Egypt presidential race starts with Sisi likely to win

Christian leaders close Church of the Holy Sepulchre in tax dispute

Blatter supports Morocco bid for 2026 World Cup

Iraq condemns 15 Turkish women to death for belonging to IS

Thousands expected for radical Israeli rabbi's funeral

Syrian Kurd leader arrested in Prague

Philippine officials meet nationals in Kuwait amid labour row

Families of IS suspects in Iraq face 'collective punishment'

Iran's ex-intelligence minister slams handling of prison death

More strikes hit E. Ghouta as UN delays truce vote

Turkey says US embassy Jerusalem opening in May 'extremely worrying'

Lebanon says both suspects in Kuwait murder of Filipina maid held

38 dead in Mogadishu car bombings

Morocco police arrests prominent newspaper publisher

Syria regime continues to pound Ghouta as world stutters

UN rights commission wants S.Sudan war crimes charges

Iran grounds airline's ATR planes after crash

Turkey summons Dutch diplomat over Armenian 'genocide' vote

Turkey navy threatens to engage Italian drillship near Cyprus

Iran police shoving headscarf protester sparks social media storm

UN Security Council to vote Friday on Syria ceasefire

Dubai says Djibouti illegally seized African port

Dutch parliament recognises 1915 Armenian massacre as genocide

Heavily bombarded Eastern Ghouta awaits UN resolution

Russia says Syria rebels rejected offer to evacuate E. Ghouta

UN diplomats press for Syria ceasefire without Russia veto

Iranian minister’s presence at UN rights meeting angers critics

Iran warns it will leave nuke deal if banks cannot do business

Qatar to plant thousands of trees to ‘beautify’ World Cup venues

Pro-Kurdish party says Turkey lying about 'no civilian deaths' in Afrin

African migrants protest Israeli detention policy

Egypt sentences 21 to death for planning attacks

Israeli handball teams in Qatar spark furious outcry from locals

UN report highlights S.Sudan journalist treatment

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea