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.

 

At least 235 killed in Egypt mosque attack

Saudi Crown Prince calls Iran supreme leader 'new Hitler'

Syrian opposition agrees to send united delegation to Geneva talks

Saudi-led coalition clears passenger flights to Sanaa

Baghdad's Shabandar cafe marks century since opening

Turkey says Trump pledged to stop arming Kurds

Turkey president sues main opposition party leader

Lebanon's Hariri brings status quo back with him

Activists say 'everybody knew' about Libya slave trade

Erdogan says no contact 'at the moment' with Assad

Lebanon's Jumblatt criticises Saudi Arabia, Iran

China says it will make efforts on Syria reconstruction

Turkey to detain 79 former teachers in post-coup probe

Hezbollah hails PM's suspension of resignation

Syrian opposition aims for unity at talks in Riyadh

Egypt police kill 3 Islamists in shootout

Turkey unsure if Assad to be part of Syria political transition

Migrant arrivals from Libya down since EU deal

Palestinian factions leave Cairo talks with little progress

Sudan’s Bashir looks to Putin for ‘protection’ from US aggression

China, Djibouti forge 'strategic' ties

IS propaganda channels fall quiet in 'unprecedented' hiatus

Kremlin to create Syria congress despite Turkey ‘reservations’

Netanyahu berates deputy minister for 'offensive' remarks on US Jews

Egypt PM heads to Germany for medical treatment

Egypt destroys 10 SUVs carrying arms on Libya border

Outrage in Iraq over 'child marriage' bill

Iraq launches operation to clear last IS holdouts from desert

Saudi-led coalition to reopen Yemen airport, port to aid

Turkey court rules to keep Amnesty chief in jail

France calls for UN meeting on Libya slave-trading

Egypt detains 29 for allegedly spying for Turkey

WTO panel to hear Qatar’s complaint against UAE blockade

Three dead as diphtheria spreads in Yemen

Lebanon’s Hariri suspends resignation

Israel seizes explosive material at Gaza border

Activists call for release of UK journalist held by IS

Bahrain upholds jail sentence for activist

Iraq attacks at lowest since 2014

Turkey continues crackdown in post-coup probe

Hariri back in Lebanon

Putin to hold Syria peace talks with Erdogan, Rouhani

US carries out air strikes against IS in Libya

Divided Syria opposition meets in Riyadh

Lebanon's Hariri in Egypt ahead of return home