Rearmament despite Dissentions

NATO Increases Operational Readiness and Targets China

BERLIN/BRUSSELS | | chinatuerkei

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - In spite of fierce internal conflicts, NATO is enhancing its operational readiness, is preparing its next expansion and is setting its sights on China as a new "challenge." These are the main results of the war alliance's anniversary summit, which ended in London yesterday, with the participation of the heads of states and governments of the member countries. As early as next year, NATO will be able deploy 30 army, air force and naval units in a war within a 30 day maximum. At the London summit, North Macedonia, which is about to join the Alliance, was represented for the first time. In the future, NATO will extensively concern itself with China, however not exclusively confrontational, as Washington would have wanted. The conflict with Turkey did not escalate, even though the dissentions between Ankara and various other allied states, by no means, had been resolved. In fact, the Turkish government has implicitly been given a blank check for its heavily criticized activities in the occupation of Northern Syria.

Enhanced Operational Readiness

Whereas, in the run-up to its anniversary summit meeting which ended in London yesterday, some experts had not ruled out an escalation of NATO’s growing internal conflicts, it did not end in an open éclat. NATO even succeeded in achieving some success, for example, in its so-called Readiness Initiative. Beginning next year, the allies will be capable of deploying 30 army, air force and naval units in a war within a maximum of 30 days - 25,000 soldiers, 300 military aircraft and 30 warships, as was reported in Brussels.[1] According to reports, Germany's contribution will be 7000 troops, 50 airplanes and helicopters and three ships. Alongside France and Great Britain, Germany will thus be one of the major troop providers. In addition to the enhancement of operational readiness, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev represented North Macedonia for the first time at the London summit. The country is about to be formally admitted into the Alliance, as soon as the Spanish parliament gives its approval. The procedure had been delayed because of Spanish parliamentary elections.

Talks with Erdoğan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a positive assessment of her talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the anniversary summit in London. Leading up to the summit, particularly the fierce dispute between Macron and Erdoğan had made headlines. Macron hat sharply criticized Turkey's invasion of areas of Northern Syria without consulting NATO allies, other than the USA. Erdoğan on the other hand, had sought to persuade NATO to declare Syria's Kurdish YPG a "terror organization," and threatened, otherwise to block NATO's defense plan for Poland and the Baltic countries. However, he relented in London. It is uncertain, whether - and if so - what kind of concessions he had received in his meetings with Merkel, Macron and Johnson on Tuesday. After the meeting it was merely stated that they want to jointly create "conditions for a safe, voluntary, and sustainable return of the refugees" to Syria. Further details were not provided. Ankara wants to settle large numbers of Syrian Arab refugees - the talk is of millions - in those areas of the country under its occupation, and thus permanently remove the basis for Kurdish autonomy. After her talks on Tuesday, Merkel only declared that a return of the refugees must be coordinated with the UNHCR. The quadripartite talks will be continued next year.

Blank Check for Ankara

In fact, over the past few days, the most serious accusations repeatedly have been raised against the Arab militias, receiving military and political support from Ankara, which already back in October, had occupied a wide expanse of northern Syrian territory, stretching between Tell Sabi Abyad and Ras al-Ayn and have been in control ever since - in close coordination with the NATO partner Turkey. Since the beginning of the October 9 invasion, hundreds of thousands of Kurdish-speaking Syrians have been forced out of the area. Human Rights organizations not only have documented the systematic shelling of civilian residential areas, but also Kurdish homes and businesses being unlawfully confiscated by the Arab-speaking occupiers, as well as widespread looting and the killing of at least 7 Kurdish-speaking prisoners and civilian activists.[2] Human Rights Watch has noted that Ankara's cronies have "failed to account for" aid workers who disappeared while working in the area under occupation.[3] Turkish authorities have begun to repatriate Arab Syrian refugees to the area under occupation, from which Syrian Kurds had been systematically expelled.[4] Countermeasures had not been decided during the London meeting, constituting, in essence, a blank check for the Turkish government.

Contradictory Interests

In its anniversary summit's final document, NATO explicitly mentions China for the first time, particularly under pressure from Washington. Already at the occasion of NATO's 70th Anniversary, in April, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo had explicitly classified China a "threat" and exhorted the war alliance to "confront" this threat.[5] However, not all of the alliance members agree with this position. Several south European NATO countries are cooperating quite closely with Beijing, among them, Greece, Italy and Portugal.[6] Even though it sends its warships to occasionally patrol the South China Seas, Great Britain is also looking forward to economic cooperation with China - particularly, in light of Brexit. Since a relevant government decision in October 2013, the City of London has become the second most significant Chinese currency trading center. It transacted, in fact, already 44.5 percent of the Renminbl global trade in the second quarter of 2019. The United Kingdom is Chinese companies’ most important investment site in Europe. Their investments already total €46.9 billion - more than in any other EU country. And finally, London has stubbornly persisted in refusing Washington's call to boycott Huawei, the Chinese company that had invested £2.2 billion in Great Britain from 2012 to 2017 alone, and in 2018 was considering another £3 billion.

China Targeted

In Germany, as well, the interests are contradictory. Although, since some time particularly the transatlantic forces have been pushing for a sharper confrontational policy toward China - under the assumption that, in the long term, the People's Republic of China would become overpowering, and its rise should be stopped as soon as possible. Just recently, a commentary alleged that there can be no "peaceful coexistence” with Beijing.[7] On the other hand, a growing portion of Germany's economy - including the powerful automotive industry, such as VW - is existentially dependent on cooperation with China. A poll taken among top executives in German enterprises and business associations recently revealed that, even though more than three-fourths of those queried, fear "coming under more future pressure" from the United States and the People's Republic of China "to chose" between one of the two, a third of the top management in business, nevertheless, answered, in such a case, they would opt for China. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8]) At NATO's anniversary summit, Washington was unsuccessful in imposing an exclusively confrontational policy toward Beijing. The final document, for example, declares, "We acknowledge that China's growing influence and the international policy offers hopes [!] and challenges that we must confront together as an alliance.[9] The alliance also refused to ban the Huawei company from the elaboration of 5G networks in NATO countries - as the Trump administration demands.

 

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[1] Nato-Staaten erhöhen Einsatzbereitschaft von Truppen. sueddeutsche.de 04.12.2019.

[2] Richard Hall: "When they come, they will kill you": Ethnic cleansing is already a reality in Turkey's Syrian safe zone. independent.co.uk 30.11.2019.

[3] Syria: Civilians Abused in "Safe Zones". hrw.org 27.11.2019.

[4] Bethan McKernan: Turkey's "safe zone" in northern Syria unsafe for civilians, says report. theguardian.com 27.11.2019.

[5] Lesley Wroughton, David Brunnstrom: Pompeo calls on NATO to adapt to new threats from Russia, China. reuters.com 04.04.2019.

[6] See also Struggle over the Silk Road.

[7] See also No Peaceful Coexistence.

[8] See also Vor der Zerreißprobe.

[9] NATO sieht China als neue Bedrohung. tagesschau.de 03.12.2019.