(Athens, Greece) – Greece, which is a NATO member country, has closed down its airspace for flights from Greece to Libya until September 8, 2016. Italy and Malta have also closed their airspace. This has come amid rumors that NATO will launch a military operation in Libya. NATO has said that these were just rumors but the Greek Foreign Ministry has yet to comment on reports that they have closed down the airspace.
Libya has been at war ever since the 2011 revolt against Moumer Gaddafi, who eventually lost his life in the conflict. ISIS has taken advantage of the current state of the country to establish itself in this country, which has made the situation worse. Since 2014, the country has been split up between two administrations, a centrist one based in Tobruk and an Islamic one based in the country’s capitol in Tripoli. Each rival administration is baked by different militia groups.
Greece issued a notice to all airmen indicated that the airspace will be closed until September. The restrictions concerning Italy and Malta will reportedly last until August. The ban doesn’t include military aircraft that have received permission to enter the airspace, medical evacuation units, and aircraft that will be involved in a military exercise on the island of Crete in the summer. In fact, the military exercise is given as a reason as to why the airspace is closed. Critics of this explanation disagree. They say that the only logical explanation is that NATO is planning to launch a military campaign in Libya that would be designed to help control the tense situation that already exists in the country.
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said on Twitter that these were “baseless rumors” that were filled with “disinformation.” She has insisted that, “NATO has not requested any airspace closure and is not planning any combat operation in Libya.” No matter what the reasoning is, the fact remains that the airspace to Libya will be closed until September 8.