Turkey Recognizes Libyan Rebels

 The foreign minister of Turkey today, July 4th, 2011, recognized the rebel leaders of Libya as the legitimate representatives of that country.  Turkey also pledged an additional $200 million  in aid and stated that it is time for Col. Gadhafi to step down.

Turkey, the sole Muslim member of NATO, is supporting the Western alliance’s operations in Libya in a non-combat role, with efforts focused on keeping open channels for relief supplies to embattled civilians.

Turkey had appeared out of step with Western allies in the early days of the conflict, arguing against unilateral air strikes on Gadhafi’s forces, but it later modified its position under the NATO umbrella.

The $200 million pledge is an "addition" to the $100 million in grants Turkey earmarked for the Libyan opposition at last month’s contact group meeting in Abu Dhabi. The next meeting of the Libyan contact group will take place in Istanbul on July 15 and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to attend.

This action portends important steps when observing the Turkish governments’ movements in the last number of months/years.  It has strived to deliver a message that though the government has moved away from secularism and closer to Muslim traditional precept, it can have a forward looking  and proactive foreign policy, enjoy economic growth and success at home built upon conservative economic principles, and play an important role in building bridges of communication between the Islamic world  to the east and south,and its European and American neighbors to the west.

Mahmoud Jibril, the de facto prime minister of the rebel administration, is due to visit Ankara later this month.