(October 23) – The three days of unilateral ceasefire Syrian and Russia had announced and kept for the besieged east-Aleppo expired today. No evacuations took place, no civilians or fighters left and no aid was delivered as “rebels” inside the besieged area shelled all possible crossings. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Turkey
By MAHDI DARIOUS NAZEMROAYA*
This article was originally published by the Strategic Culture Foundation on December 30, 2015.
After shooting down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M tactical bomber jet operating in Syrian airspace, in early December 2015 the Turkish government sent a heavily armed battalion to the Zilkan military base in Iraq. This move ignited tensions between Ankara and the Iraqi federal government, which renounced it as an act of Turkish aggression.
Within the contours of a resource and energy war, the Turkish military deployment was a move by the Turkish government to secure its illegal oil trade with the so-called Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS/IS/DAESH).
Turkish military base in the Persian Gulf
Weeks after the Turkish military deployment to Zilkan, the Russian military’s General Staff reported that it had tracked 11,755 oil tankers and trucks around the town of Zakho on both sides of the Iraqi-Turkish border on December 25, 2015. Despite the claims by the Kurdistan Regional Government that the oil tankers and trucks were the result of a long lineup created by the closure of the Iraqi-Turkish border due to Ankara’s military operations against the Kurds in southeast Turkey, the oil tankers and trucks were understood to be part of a re-channeled smuggling route for Syrian oil stolen by the ISIL.
The Turkish government has taken several steps to redirect its energy ties away from Russia and Iran. It is precisely in the context of securing energy reserves that Ahmet Demirok, the Turkish ambassador to Qatar, announced Ankara’s plans to open a military base in Qatar in the Persian Gulf region on December 16, 2015. In an interview with Reuters Ambassador Demirok said that the Turkish base was being set up in accordance with the security agreement signed between Ankara and Doha in 2014 and that the military base would help both Turkey and Qatar jointly “confront common threats” from certain countries, which Demirok declined to name.
The unnamed countries that Ambassador Demirok was implying could be none other than the duet of Iran and Russia. Moreover, Turkey’s announcement about the establishment of a Turkish military base in Qatar coincided with an announcement on the following day, December 17, by Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi, the Qatari ambassador to Turkey, that Doha was prepared to provide as much liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Turkey as it needed.
Israel and Turkey come together: Eastern Mediterranean natural gas
A day after Qatar’s Ambassador Salem Mubarak Al-Shafi announced that Doha would provide Turkey with as much LNG as it needed, on December 18, it was announced that Israel and Turkey had signed a framework agreement to export Israeli natural gas to Turkey. Although Turkish tensions with Russia, Iran, and Iraq could have hastened the natural gas deal between Ankara and Tel Aviv, the Israeli-Turkish framework agreement for energy trade had been quietly negotiated over for several months by the Israeli and Turkish government.
Analysts and journalists presented the natural gas agreement between Israel and Turkey as a part of a Turkish move to normalize its diplomatic and military ties with Israel as a means of counter-balancing Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and their regional partners. These views and claims, however, overlook the fact there have been clear signs that Israel and Turkey have maintained their cooperation, if not close allied relationship, in the economic and military sectors. Both the Turkish and Israeli militaries have even had synchronized movements and operations on the Syrian border.
While Israel has been re-exporting the smuggled oil that Turkey has been exporting from Syria and Iraq, Tel Aviv has tried to legitimize its appropriation of the Palestinian natural gas reserves off the cost of the Gaza Strip. In parallel, Tel Aviv has exerted its full influence to gain control of the Egyptian natural gas reserves north of the Nile Delta. This is while Israel has tried to lay claim to Lebanese maritime territory holding large deposits of natural gas and courted Cyprus for control of its Mediterranean natural gas reserves.
Contours of a broader energy war emerge
The agreements with Israel and Qatar are a part of a broader energy trade nexus that falls within the contours of an energy war predating recent Russo-Turkish tensions. In fact, both Ambassador Al-Shafi and Ambassador Demirok were only repeating information about deals that were reached between Erdogan and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani during Erdogan’s visit to Qatar at the time of the Russian military’s press conference announcing his involvement in the ISIL’s oil smuggling. Furthermore, the spatial configuration of the Israeli, Turkish, and Qatar reflected the dimensions of the energy war taking place in the Middle East.
Turkey has done almost everything possible to stop an Iran-Iraq-Syria energy corridor bypassing Turkey from being created. The Turkish military deployment to the Mosul District in Iraq and the creation of a Turkish military base in Qatar are tied to the joint goals of Turkey and Qatar for creating a rival energy corridor running through Turkey to Europe from the Persian Gulf and Iraq. The public demands that Israel give Turkey “unrestricted” access to the Gaza Strip could also be tied to the Palestinian natural gas reserves off of Gaza’s coast.
Furthermore, for years both Israel and Turkey have worked to establish a Levantine energy corridor where Eastern Mediterranean natural gas would be mainly exported northwards towards Turkey and the European Union while oil would be mainly exported southwards towards Israel. The materialization of this corridor has been obstructed mainly by Syria. This is one of the reasons that the Turkish government has pushed for regime change in Damascus.
While there are claims that Turkey is acting independently of the US government, it is highly improbable that no coordination has taken place in regards to the joint US and Turkish objective of regime change in Damascus. The re-direction of Turkish energy trade falls in line with the US objective to cripple the Russian energy sector by obstructing energy trade between the Russian Federation and other international actors.
This article was originally posted by the Strategic Culture Foundation on December 30, 2015.
“. . . it is the Syrian scorched ground that decides its destiny. . .”
Introduction by Ghassan Kadi*: This is an article that has been translated from Arabic by Intibah and Ghassan Kadi. It was published on Assafir (a Lebanese daily) on February 15 by SAMI KOLEIB. He is a renowned pro-Resistance Lebanese journalist. He has made great analyses over the last few years and Intibah and I had the pleasure of translating some of his work. In this article, he is articulating his views about the outcome of the huffing and puffing of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in regard to their threats of launching ground military operations in Syria. A highly recommended read.
By Sami Koleib | Translated by Ghassan and Intibah Kadi
(February 15) – For the Russia Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev to say that the world is entering a cold war is to declare the status quo… and confirming what’s already confirmed. But to say it from Munich? This is the same place from which President Vladimir Putin began to stand up against Washington in his famous speech nearly eight years ago. And for Medvedev to mention the Russian Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to stop an American invasion is only a reminder of the new red lines for any land invasion perpetrated by the enemies of the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Syria’s north, and specifically to any Saudi-Turkish gamble with a NATO cover. The cold war is realistically under way; what’s new in it this time is that it is the Syrian scorched ground that decides its destiny… and it seems that various contacts made in the last few hours have focused on putting the situation under control and priorotizing on fighting terrorism. Continue reading
By GHASSAN KADI*
What started as a “War On Syria”, allowed to grow and fester unabated, fueled and sponsored by eighty three nations spearheaded by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and NATO and all pro-NATO nations, is undoubtedly coming to a head.
Geneva III seems dead in the water, just like Geneva I and II were. This time however, Syria and its allies are calling the shots, and they are playing the cat-and-mouse game, and why not? After all, the ball is in their court and it wasn’t easy coming. It’s the spoil of blood and sacrifice. Continue reading
By GHASSAN KADI*
(November 22) – Love him or hate him, Erdogan has been a survivor; a hero for some, and a stick in the mud that would not go away for many more others. He has thus far managed to dodge many serious decisive moments, the last of which was the recent parliamentary elections that he won with flying colours despite the predictions of many analysts, including myself, that he was destined to lose abysmally. Continue reading