NATO to monitor migration as risk of instability to alliance members
Irregular mass migration is among the "hybrid threats" that rivals can use to undermine the stability of NATO countries, the alliance recognised in its new strategic concept agreed on Wednesday in Madrid.
The inclusion of such threats was an explicit request from countries on NATO's outer rims, including the summit's host Spain, whose neighbours have been accused of using migration as a weapon of political pressure.
Poland's border crisis with Belarus last year was another example.
The strategic concept twice mentions migration as an element to monitor in the next decade, and points to the southern flank as a new source of risk to stability.
"Conflict, fragility and instability in Africa and the Middle East directly affect our security and the security of our partners," the document said.
The allies agreed that areas to the south of NATO, particularly the Middle East, North Africa and Sahel regions, faced interconnected security, demographic, economic and political challenges spurred on by external powers.
"This situation provides fertile ground for the proliferation of non-state armed groups, including terrorist organisations. It also enables destabilising and coercive interference by strategic competitors."
At least 23 migrants died and many more were injured in the attempted mass crossing on Friday into the Spanish enclave of Melilla that borders Morocco.
Spanish Prime Minister @sanchezcastejon vowed his government's 'total collaboration' with three investigations into the death of 23 migrants during a mass attempt to enter the Melilla enclave 👇https://t.co/0YFeANlywp— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) June 29, 2022
The tragedy gave rise to debate on whether Article 5 of the NATO treaty applies to the defence of Melilla and the other Spanish enclave of Ceuta as they are located outside the boundaries that NATO considers its territory.
The wording of the new strategic concept removes any doubt, according to a senior Spanish government source, by explicitly including Spain's southern enclaves.
"No one should doubt our strength and resolve to defend every inch of allied territory, preserve the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all allies and prevail against any aggressor," the text said.