Crisis Reaction Lite?

Options for NATO’s Southern Flank

30/06/2016 | 09:00 - 13:00 | DGAP Berlin | Invitation only

Expert Round Table

Category: Security

In a workshop at DGAP, a group of security policy experts discussed NATO’s challenges on its southern flank prior to the NATO summit in Warsaw.

During the opening statements one of the speakers admitted that NATO’s southern flank currently is a melting pot of difficulties. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions have been displaced in conflicts from Libya to Syria. Due to the Russian anti access/area denial capabilities (A2AD) in the eastern Mediterranean and especially Syria, NATO was said to be currently unable to intervene in Syria, even if it decided to do so.

The subsequent debate focused on the role of NATO’s counter terrorism efforts which were ramped up after September 11, 2001. The participants agreed that stability operations such as ISAF would be unlikely in the future but train, advice and assist missions were realistic in future scenarios such as in Libya.

With regard to Libya, it was emphasized that there is currently a gap between the international and domestic support for the House of Representatives. While there are currently two governments in place in Libya, only the House of Representatives enjoys international recognition. Yet in fact, it has only limited political weight within Libya since it was elected by a vote where only 14% of the population took to the ballots. Regardless of the political actors and parties, it is to be assumed that there is no secular political movement and that the sharia law will not be challenged at all. It became clear that various political and military actors struggle for power in Libya – ISIL, Ansar al-Sharia, al Quaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and many more local militias.

While there are no actors which enjoy vast domestic support within Libya the picture in neighboring countries looks different. It was deemed crucial for the transatlantic Alliance to support neighboring countries in stabilizing their political systems. Furthermore, it would be decisive that third-parties would continue to buy oil only from official Libyan sources and not from conflict actors. Lastly, as ISIL in Libya enjoys no major backing by the Libyan population it was seen as unlikely that ISIL will play a major role in the near future.

The inputs were presented by Col. Dr. Omer Faruk Cantenar, a researcher at the NATO Defense College in Rome and Benjamin Preisler, an analyst in the CCOMC Civil Military Analysis Branch at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), NATO. The panel discussion was chaired by Dr. Henning Riecke, Head of the USA / Transatlantic Relations Program, DGAP. Approximately 30 experts attended the event.

The event has been the 7th part of a DGAP event series on NATO before the Warsaw Summit which was jointly organized by the USA / Transatlantic Relations Program and the Future Forum Berlin.

We Thank the German Marshall Fund of the United States for its support.

Responsible Persons

  • Dr. Henning Riecke

    Dr. Henning Riecke

    Head of Study Groups
    Tel.: 030 254 23 1-35
    Fax: 030 254 23 1-16

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