Turning immigration into a security alert that must be combated on a military level is a growing trend in NATO that has serious humanitarian risks. This is the warning that the Delas Center for Peace Studies is formulating these days in a report in which it reviews the Alliance’s new strategies, on the eve of the summit to be held in Madrid next week.
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Among the new doctrines of the countries that are part of the defensive union, the Delas center highlights what it calls “new security drift in relation to migrations.” A label with which he criticizes NATO’s view of large human displacements as if it were a danger similar to war and even as a mode of attack in the case of armed conflicts, which therefore must be answered by the military way.
This practice is especially pronounced in the Mediterranean, an area that has been the scene of important migrations in recent decades and, also, of military operations to monitor and repel the movement of people. For example, the Delas center points to countries like Turkey for their practices to control migratory flows under the defensive strategy of the Atlantic Alliance, through operations that have gone far beyond what Frontex could do. This happens because while the European Agency can only leave ships found on the shores of member countries, NATO devices can return them to Turkey or other countries, where the EU can disregard the rights of migrants as asylum seekers.
This is not the only case pointed out by the report, which also cites the Sea Guardian operation, based in the western Mediterranean and very focused on the Strait of Gibraltar, for which Spain has a leading role. According to the Delas center, under the NATO mandate to fight against possible terrorist threats, this operation has ended up becoming a military response to control and repel the possible arrivals of immigrants from the Maghreb coast to the beaches in the south of the Iberian Peninsula.
Both examples constitute, according to the report, “an obvious way of intercepting and diverting migratory flows out of EU countries, which also does not guarantee the protection of migrants.” This way of controlling immigration has a huge impact on human rights, firstly because they are designed as military defense operations, and therefore not under a humanitarian approach, and secondly because they are carried out in border areas that people who can be treated not only as “illegals” but as attackers for the mere fact of migrating arrive by force.
This second issue constitutes a risk of special relevance for the NATO summit that will begin next Wednesday, in which much of the attention will be focused on the re-emergence of Russia as a threat to the Atlantic countries. However, some members have already shown signs of wanting to introduce other issues that are closer to them both geographically and because of defensive interest.
In the case of Spain, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares has already expressed his interest in dealing with the migration issue at this summit. “We have very big threats from our southern flank, the political and unacceptable use of energy and irregular migration to threaten our sovereignty,” Albares assured last May. The Government understands that Morocco used immigration as a form of “hybrid attack” on Spain in May 2021. The Alaouite Kingdom is not a NATO partner but is considered a strategic ally.
In these circumstances, the Delas Center report wonders what NATO’s role has been in building the security and stability to which the organization usually appeals, taking into account the forced displacements to which some military interventions have contributed. the Alliance in areas such as Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. “Bearing in mind that an important indicator of insecurity is the forced displacement of populations, it is possible to affirm that NATO is far from having contributed to stabilizing and providing security to the populations of the countries in which it has intervened,” the report concludes. the peace organization.