Iraq’s Kurdistan region has started to export crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly approved a second route for crude through Iran after Turkey, although a KRG official denies any crude was going through Iran yet. Iraq’s Kurdistan region is exporting crude oil by truck to an Iranian port for shipping to Asia, industry sources say, using a trade route that is likely to anger both Baghdad and Washington.
A group of energy companies that discovered large amounts of natural gas off Israel’s Mediterranean coast said they were in talks to export the gas to Europe via a pipeline to Turkey. They are also studying options to export gas to Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, Avner Oil & Gas said on Tuesday. “The partners are negotiating with various officials,” Avner, one of the partners in the project, said. Recoverable gas in the Levant Basin, which lies largely in Israeli and Cypriot waters in the eastern Mediterranean, hold some 3.5 trillion cubic metres of gas, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated.
Russia’s military preparedness during the last 100 years if plotted on a graph would look like a series of valley and peaks. World War I revealed that in terms of morale and education, the Russian Army was in a race to the bottom with Turkey, which was then known as the Sick Man of Europe. After some spectacular early thrusts that took them deep into Germany, the Russian military eventually crumbled, with the Germans in 1917 advancing within 300 km of Moscow.
Amid signs Israel’s effort to patch up relations with one-time ally Turkey is in difficulties, the prospect of exporting gas from offshore fields to Europe via a pipeline under the eastern Mediterranean to Turkey would seem to be dimming. That suggests more interest in a liquefied gas system aimed at lucrative exports to Asia via the Red Sea. Either way, Israel’s navy is trying to figure out how best to protect the Jewish state’s expanding gas industry– and if current plans work out, oil production as well — from a wide spectrum of security threats that seem to be growing by the day.
Azerbaijan’s rapid arms build-up is cause for concern in the region, with some defence analysts warning that it heightens the risk of renewed conflict. President Ilham Aliyev frequently boasts of the amount of money his oil-rich state can afford to spend on weaponry. Appearing at a military parade in Baku on June 26. he took the opportunity to remind everyone that at 3.7 billion US dollars, annual defence expenditure is nearly twice the size of neighbouring Armenia’s entire government budget. A decade ago, Azerbaijan’s defence budget stood at 160 million dollars.
How many bargains you get when shopping depends on Egypt’s Suez Canal being open for business. Between 8% and 12% of all international trade goes through Egypt’s Suez Canal, which cuts thousands of miles off ship journeys from Asia to Europe and to the North American East Coast. We can call it 10% of world trade on a rolling average (trade is still down after the 2008 crash). But note that if the Suez Canal were to be closed by the country’s turbulence, it wouldn’t just affect that ten percent– the impact on prices of many commodities would be across the board.
As was the case with the Balkans in 1914, on the eve of the First World War, the Eastern Mediterranean is now a pile of “kindling”, ready to trigger a larger explosion. Similar to the ball which deprived the life of Archduke Ferdinand, nobody can predict what could widen the conflict, but surely the possibility should not be ignored. Conflicts Sunni and Shiite boil. In the old sources of tension have been added and new, mainly for gas deposits claimed by Israel, Cyprus, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
With “initial operational capability” reached last July 1, the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) in NATO, located at the base of Madrid and led by a Spanish General, Ruben Garcia Servet. This general in the Air Force will have 185 soldiers under his command, of which 44 Spanish, and civilians, but for now the CAOC template has 95 personnel, who will deal with the air defense of an area that stretches from the Canary Islands to Turkey, and also in this country including Spain , Portugal , Italy , Greece, Slovenia , Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania , Hungary and Albania.
A total of $829 million has been raised to explore Africa for metals and minerals over the last two years. While some 65% of drilling on the continent targets gold, rare earths are the fifth most popular prospect after iron ore, copper and coal attracting five companies spending $42 million during the two years to end-May 2013. The renewed interest in Africa’s rare earths come despite dramatic falls in the value of the 17 elements used in a variety of high-tech, green and consumer electronics industries.
Those who wanted to believe Bouteflika dead were disappointed, those who plotted against him in the interim shelved their plans, those who longed for a huge succession fight realized they’d wasted their time, and those who dreamed of a new day for their country would have to dream of something else instead. And just you wait, Bouteflika will punish them all. He will go after everyone who declined to come out and mourn for him, who failed to organize fervent processions, to sacrifice sheep, to make offerings like in the days of the sultans.
Spain and the US are expected to formalize an agreement in the coming weeks over the stationing of four destroyers at the naval base in Rota, Cádiz, for an initial period of over four years. The deal is worth 200 million euros to Spanish public company Navantia, which will be responsible for the maintenance of the four Arleigh Burke class vessels. The destroyers form part of the NATO missile defense shield and are equipped with Aegis combat systems capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.
U.S. and Western weapons have been reaching Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting to keep Bashar Assad’s forces in power in Syria. Analysts say it’s unclear if the weapons were captured, stolen or bought on the black market in Syria, Turkey, Iraq or Libya. Propaganda photographs from Shiite militias posted on dozens of websites and Facebook pages show the weapons were acquired in new condition, said Phillip Smyth, an analyst for Jihadology.net, a site affiliated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The new middle class is “much more likely to engage in political activism to get their way.” Not just protests and civil unrest but revolutions — the kind predicted by the Pentagon a decade ago. This “threatening gap between rapidly rising expectations and a disappointing reality” will have enormous implications for China’s stability. Reading “Middle-Class Revolution” and other Fukuyama works, it is obvious that the “Pentagon 2020” war scenario is accelerating everywhere — across Asia, India, Africa, Europe, South America and the United States — fueled by capitalists who only see population growth as an opportunity for new consumer markets.
The French government decided to provide the Lebanese army with heavy weapons to boost its military performance, a local newspaper reported on Monday. According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, a recent meeting held between French and Lebanese Defense Ministry officials discussed the matter. France decided in light of the meetings to supply the Lebanese army with anti-tank missiles and sophisticated surface-to-air missiles. Informed sources told the newspaper that Paris is “confident that the Lebanese army command is controlling the institution despite what rumors said.”
The “emerging” powers determine and project national interests through political leadership guiding national decisions in socio-cultural settings so as to increase and protect the prestige of the country concerned. They develop vibrant economies, military muscles, and engage in socio-cultural infiltration of other countries and regions using what is popularly termed “soft power”. In this sense, businessmen, politicians, economists, and various professionals in the state are functionaries in national grand designs to make each a power to reckon with.
The declared objective of the government of Nicosia is to use the geo-strategic position of Cyprus, between Europe and the Middle East, to make the country a true energy hub, with a central role in commercial transit and in the provision of European energy.
In recent years the Eastern Mediterranean has increased its own strategic importance at an international level following significant discoveries of hydrocarbons. In this region the recent offshore findings of natural gas are radically changing its geostrategic and economic status.
With unrest in Egypt, U.S. military officials looking for insight might test the ties they formed with the Egyptian defense minister, Lt. Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, when he was a student at the Army War College.
“In this little historical Pennsylvania town, the most important school in the world operates under the radar,” said retired Col. Stephen Gerras, a professor of behavioral science at the Carlisle Barracks.
The Turkish government has plans to make a slight change to its laws to prevent coups. The contentious point in the constitution – Article 35 – has been used as justification by instigators of past coups.
Since 1960, there have been four military coups in Turkey that threw out elected governments. The last time a coup threatened the government in Turkey was 2007, when the military had a stand-off with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, the government is considering a historic step: changing Article 35 of the Turkish military’s internal laws.
In a long-awaited decision to bring Azeri gas resources to Europe, the Shah Deniz II consortium opted for a pipeline running through Greece and Albania instead of a rival northwestern route, Nabucco West, running from Bulgaria to Austria.
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) will stretch 870 kilometres from the Greek-Turkish border. Moving west, TAP is designed to extend across the breadth of northern Greece before veering northwest to Albania. From Fier, Albania, plans envision the pipeline crossing under the Adriatic to emerge in southern Italy.
Turkey’s western allies look puzzled by a looming decision by Ankara to select Chinese long-range anti-missile and air defense systems which they think cannot be integrated into the NATO-sponsored early warning architecture currently deployed on Turkish soil.
A NATO ally defense attaché in Ankarasaid that deploying a Chinese air defense system to protect Turkish airspace could have political repercussions. “Questioning Turkey’s geopolitical trajectory would then be legitimate,” he said.
Russia’s ultimate geo-strategic goal is to re-frame a continental block against the Atlantic powers, by making use of the vast strategic and demographic potential of the Eurasian continent. Following this approach, Russia should adopt a multi-dimensional foreign policy waiving close relations with the EU, China and the regional powers, such as Iran and Turkey. The Post-Soviet Space stresses the historical and cultural affinities with the Slavic communities and represents a pivotal area for Moscow’s external projection. Energy links are the key tools of political leverage for Russia’s power projection.
The youth riots in Brazil, Chile, the European Union, the Arab Middle East, Turkey, and even the “Occupy” movement in the West all reflect what political theory broadly calls the “legitimacy crisis” of modern democracy – the notion that participation in democratic politics does little to change the actual process of government, that elites are dug-in and immoveable, that cronyism is endemic, and so on. Young voters particularly become cynical of the formal electoral process, either dropping out in disdain, or expressing their grievances “extra-parliamentarily”, i.e., on the street.
As the West begins to gear up for the centenary of the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Middle East is being convulsed as never before by the legacy of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Look no farther than Syria, where one part of that legacy – the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Middle East into British and French spheres of influence even while the Great War still raged – is coming to a brutally violent end. Likewise, the current turmoil in Turkey is, at least in part, a consequence of “neo-Ottoman” overreach by Erdogan’s government.
In that global marketplace, everything and anything goes. While nothing prevents individual security agencies from spying on enemies, nothing prevents friendly intelligence services from spying on each other too. So, former CIA contractor and NSA employee Edward Snowden’s claim that Britain and the US spied on some friendly countries should not outrage us. Those who express indignation that these democratic countries could spy on ‘friends’ like Turkey and Russia are either naive or live in a utopian world.
Ukraine and Turkey are considering the possibility of cooperation in the creation of a Turkish missile system, a source in the Ukrainian space industry has told Interfax-Ukraine.
“The sides discussed a number of issues of mutual interest, including the creation in Turkey of a joint space center and a testing ground for air defense systems,” he said. The source said that the sides also discussed the supply of Ukrainian engines for Turkish-produced armored vehicles.
The United States said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman’s request, and Russia bristled at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.
Washington, which has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, pledged military support to Syrian rebels this week, citing what it said was the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons – an allegation Damascus has denied.
According to a draft law pertaining to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the intelligence agency will be authorized to not only keep records on people and obtain information about individuals from some public institutions, but also to conduct pre-emptive operations against possible threats inside and outside the country, Taraf daily maintained on Wednesday. The draft, which may well turn Turkey into a state controlled by an intelligence agency, would hugely do away with some democratic achievements Turkey has made in recent years.
Tamir Pardo, director of Israeli national intelligence agency Mossad, has covertly met with Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan in Turkey to discuss the situation in Syria and the ongoing anti-government protests in Turkey, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.
According to reports, Pardo, who is of Turkish and Serbian origin, traveled to Turkey in a private airplane to see Fidan. They reportedly discussed the latest situation in Syria, which has been in turmoil for more than two years, and the impact of Iran on the situation.
Eastern European states had clearer goals in their 1990s transitions, writes Tony Barber. So it is in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, two-and-a-half years after the eruption of the Arab Spring, and so it was just over 20 years ago in central and eastern Europe after the fall of communism. The differences between the two regions are, for the most part, more striking than the similarities. In one fundamental respect, however, they have something in common: a period of transition in which the struggle for a settled constitutional and political order and economic progress is long and hard-fought.
Israeli foreign policy, dominated by conflict with its Muslim neighbors, may be entering a new era as the country turns into a natural-gas producer. Exploiting energy discoveries off its Mediterranean shore will require Israel to soon decide on how much it wants to export, by what means and to which markets.
That’s influencing relations with regional neighbors Cyprus, Turkey and Lebanon, spurring concern from rival producer Russia, and attracting interest from potential customers China and Korea.
Nations are eccentric. But they also have threads of repeated history through which we can discern what comes next. Now we present 14 rules governing geopolitical events. These rules do not divine the future. Rather they allow you, generally speaking, to separate yourself from the unruly, conjectural maw of global opinion-makers and decipher for yourself what is going on, and the probable scenario or scenarios to unfold next. One of the instruments for doing so is history, as discussed. But there also is a perceptible universal trend to events that cuts across borders.
As the protests in Turkey are turning from spontaneous meetings into a form of political struggle against the government of the Party of Justice and Development and the systemic opposition is trying to lead the process, the role of the army in the developments becomes acute.
The military is still a serious political force in Turkey and actually is not controlled by the government. In the context of mass protests all over the country, the ruling Islamist elite should be seriously concerned: in the Turkish Republic’s history the army generalship has four times toppled unwanted governments.
Office workers in business suits chant anti-government slogans alongside pious women wearing Muslim headscarves. Schoolchildren and bearded anarchists rub shoulders with football fans, well-heeled women in designer sunglasses and elderly couples donating food.
These disparate groups are united by alarm at what they consider unwarranted meddling and increasingly autocratic behavior by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s most popular prime minister in decades. Even some of his supporters are joining the protests sweeping the country.
The ongoing unrest in Turkey may lead to a new military coup in that country, Israeli political expert Avigdor Eskin told ArmInfo. The expert believes that Turkey is changing its image these days. Even if Prime Minister Erdogan manages to suppress the wave of protests, they will have a crucial role in the history for the former Ottoman Empire. “I witnessed the overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, then the public unrest in Russia in 1991 and 1993. The scales are incomparable. Turkish dissidents managed to awaken the entire city.
As the United States pivots away from the Western world to face the burgeoning Pacific Rim, what wisdom can it carry over from its former stomping grounds to the new cockpit of geopolitics? Perhaps Washington can take a page out of Leopold Kohr’s book. The obscure Austrian philosopher once popularized the slogan “Small is Beautiful” — which has clearly never caught on in the States. Yet his theories on the importance of size in international relations might help Washington manage its decidedly outsized geopolitical challenges in Asia.
In recent decades energy security has proven to be one of the priority interests of states and therefore subject to international relations. This is a direct effect of the post-Cold War panorama, in which economic capacity and the possession of great sources of raw materials has affected the definition of a new geopolitical equilibrium. The growing prominence of the energy factor in international relations may be comprised under four big issues: climate change, security of supplies, energy efficiency and environmental protection.
Over the past year, Turks have protested against the deteriorating state of press freedoms, a reckless construction boom, a draft law placing new curbs on abortion, the government’s response to the civil war raging in neighboring Syria, the jailing of hundreds of top generals on coup charges, the arrests of thousands of Kurdish activists accused of abetting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which Turkey labels a terrorist group, and, most recently, new restrictions on alcohol sales.
Europe’s grand plan for a gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea that would make its eastern states less reliant on Russia may have been fatally undermined by Russia’s even bigger project.
As Azerbaijan nears a decision on which pipeline to choose for its future exports, the Nabucco plan that was long the European Union favourite could lose out to the more modest Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) across Greece to southern Italy.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, the recent Greek-Israeli and Cypriot-Israeli partnerships have shown that the three countries have the opportunity to cooperate and act as a regional subsystem of stability in a volatile region.
Israel’s most important security dilemma, arising from the scarcity of strategic depth, can be addressed through an alliance of this kind. So far Greece and Israel have shared military training facilities and with Nicosia, cooperation has flourished through political and economic support, especially in the field of offshore drilling.
Jordan, which shares borders with war-torn Syria, said on Sunday it is in talks with “friendly countries” to deploy Patriot missiles on its territory after a similar move by Turkey. “Jordan wishes to deploy Patriot missile batteries in order to boost its defense capabilities and help protect the country,” Information Minister Mohammad Momani told a news conference. “We are currently at the stage of talks with friendly states,” said Momani, who is also government spokesman, declining to elaborate.
While the diplomatic grouping known as the Friends of Syria met in the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday to discuss a U.S.-Russian plan for peace talks, a low-key yet perhaps equally important gathering was being quietly held in Istanbul between Saudi officials and half of the 30 members of the Free Syrian Army’s Higher Military Command, which claims to represent most of the rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The informal talks, which were held at a seaside hotel, marked the first gathering of the rebel group’s Military Command and Saudi officials since, according to senior members of the Military Command, Saudi Arabia stepped up earlier this month to become the main source of arms to the rebels.
Russia primarily seeks to secure their portion of Syria, their people and their interests. Only secondarily does it support the Syrian government by more overt and covert measures. After they establish a more secure beachhead in the chaos, once safe from Western threats to bases and interests, they will then be in a better position to funnel supplies through those ports uninhibited. The warships carry with them supplies and marines and they are a lot more than a show of the flag. They are a tangible, genuine, military build-up on Syrian waters.
The current political rapport between Riyadh and Ankara is an exciting development. If harmonized, it could completely result in the two countries achieving significant influence at regional and international levels.
The economies of the two countries stand at $ 5.1 trillion, with high growth rates. This will surely make their collective voice heard loud and clear.
In addition, the special status of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world, together with its political and economic weight, when combined with the newly transformed modern Turkey, will give the two countries a powerful political role in the region.
Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas have fought their biggest battle yet for Syria’s beleaguered president, prompting international alarm that the civil war may spread and an urgent call for restraint from the US.
About 30 Hezbollah fighters were killed on Sunday, Syrian activists said, along with 20 Syrian troops and militiamen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the fiercest fighting this year in the rebel stronghold of Qusair, near the Lebanon border. That would be the highest daily loss for the Iranian-backed movement in Syria, highlighting how it is increasing its efforts to bolster al-Assad.
The quicksands of the Arabian Desert are notorious for swallowing up anyone trying to control the area. Historically, that’s what happened to Turkey, Britain, France, Russia and the US. Sooner or later, all discovered that instead of dominating the Middle East, they ended up being dominated by the region’s never-ending problems. And that may also be the fate of China, the latest power to be lured by the idea that it has to engage in Middle-Eastern diplomacy.
Russia is ready to develop jointly with Turkey a long-range air defense complex based on S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, state arms seller Rosoboronexport head Sergei Ladygin said on Sunday.
Turkey launched a tender for the purchase of long-range air defense systems long ago but no winner has been announced to this day. “Russia is ready to offer as part of the tender a joint Russian-Turkish product based on the Antey-2500 system [the export version of the S-300 system]. For example, to mount the air defense system on the Turkish chassis,” Ladygin said at the weapons exhibition in the Peruvian capital of Lima.
“Qatar has spent about three billion dollars in the past two years to support the opposition in Syria, which far exceeds what provided by any other government. However, the Saudi Arabia competes now in leading the bodies providing Syrian opposition with weapons,” the paper said. “The cost of the Qatari intervention in Syria, which is the latest effort of the oil-rich emirate to support an “Arab revolution,” only represents a very small part of the international investment of Qatar,” it added. “Qatar’s support for Islamist groups in the Arab countries puts it in confrontation with the other Gulf States and provokes competition with the Saudi Arabia,”
The recent discovery of oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean off the Israeli, Cypriot and Lebanese coasts is a great boost to the independence and self-sufficiency of these countries.
But the discoveries also add to existing tensions between Israel and Lebanon as both are claiming the oil and gas reserves as their own. In April, natural gas from the Israeli Tamar reserve began to flow from an offshore rig in the Mediterranean Sea into Israel, giving the country the chance to hone its energy security and freedom.
Israel’s rapprochement with onetime strategic ally Turkey is a vital element in Ankara’s drive to become the intercontinental east-west energy hub in the Mediterranean and many expect it to produce an energy alliance that will transform the region.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan has transformed his country’s economic prospects through a wide-ranging diplomatic drive aimed at restoring Turkish leadership in the region. He has long sought to transform Turkey, which has no energy resources of its own, into the unassailable central hub for transporting oil and gas from the eastern Mediterranean, the new hot zone, to Europe and maybe to Asia as well.
The Cyprus issue, energy security and the exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone were examined during a meeting in Athens between the Defence Ministers of Cyprus and Greece, Fotis Fotiou and Panos Panagiotopoulos, respectively.
Fotiou also discussed with Panagiotopoulos the situation in the wider south-eastern Mediterranean region and Turkish threats against Cyprus with regard to oil exploration.
In spite of all obstacles, a major breakthrough is required to end the current nuclear deadlock in the region, where Israel is the only atomic power, though the Iranian nuclear programme continues to draw attention – and sanctions – in Western countries. Should such a breakthrough not happen, Egypt and Arab countries may withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which they were pushed to join in 1995 in exchange of U.S. promises to free the Middle East from atomic warheads, Israeli nuclear arsenal included.
In 2011, Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times, offered a mea culpa for his support of the war in Iraq. “When the troops went in, they went with my blessing,” confessed Keller. “I could not foresee that we would mishandle the war so badly, but I could see that there was no clear plan for — and at the highest levels, a shameful smugness about — what came after the invasion.” He called his realization “the costly wisdom of Iraq,” which, according to his op-ed in the Times on Monday, doesn’t seem to apply to Syria.
Frustrated in its attempt to join the European Union, NATO-member Turkey last week signed up as a partner with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu described the signing of the SCO cooperation agreement as an historic day for his country, saying Turkey is the first NATO state to establish such a relationship with the SCO. “If we look from a Cold War perspective,” he said, “these may seem like mutually exclusive institutions. However, the Cold War has ended. Turkey won’t be a slave of the Cold War logic.”
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is set to stage a 10-day long military drills in the southern province of Adana. Adana is neighbor to Hatay, a province bordering on Syria, Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The Yıldırım-2013 Mobilization Exercise will begin Monday, May 6 and end on May 15, according to an announcement posted on the official website of the Turkish General Staff. The exercise will test the army’s mobilization system and the coordination between public institutions and the armed forces in case of any mobilization, the statement said.
It is a profound problem, which may evolve into a true existential crisis. It is prompted by a question that organizations must sometimes confront: “What purpose do we serve?”
This is the question that is starting to be asked at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Meetings in Brussels without any real agenda, that lead to summits without decisions, the organization gets by actively trying to “redefine” itself. In reality, the end of the organization’s mission in Afghanistan in 2014, and its economic uncertainty due to the crisis that its European members are facing, puts it in a very difficult situation.
A NATO alliance where member nations are hamstrung by political and economic difficulties may be a militarily weakened one, former Secy. of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night.
“NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance with shrinking percentage of members willing – and able – to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense,” Clinton said. “Even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance.” Clinton was speaking at an annual Atlantic Council awards dinner in Washington where both she and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen were honored with Distinguished Leadership awards.
Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today. At the State Department, I am responsible for overseeing a wide range of defense policy issues, including missile defense policy. In this capacity, it was my responsibility and privilege to negotiate the details of the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) agreements with Poland, Romania, and Turkey that will enable the United States to implement the European Phased Adaptive Approach (or EPAA), the U.S. contribution to NATO missile defense.
Residents of a number of Sunni cities in Iraq have announced the formation of “military forces” to counter attack the Iraqi army and its crackdown against protesters calling for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki – a Shiite – to step down, Al Arabiya reported on Thursday. The announcements come after Sunni tribesmen were called to arm following a government sponsored military raid on a Sunni Muslim anti-government protest at a camp in Hawija, near Kirkuk, on Tuesday. Dozens of people were killed and injured in the initial incident. It set off a wave of revenge attacks that hit five different Sunni-majority provinces, killing at least 110 people.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu Friday said that the memorandum of understanding signed with the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) was a declaration of “common destiny” as well as the beginning of a long journey that the organization and Turkey would walk hand in hand. Turkey and SCO signed a memorandum of understanding in the Kazakh city of Almaty. Davutoglu, who was on a formal visit to Kazakhstan met with Secretary General of the SCO Dmitri Mezentsev, and signed the MoU in regards to the cooperation to be carried out between Turkey and the organization as “dialogue partners.”
A panel of experts at the recent SISO CEO Summit did a great job describing where they’d put their money now—and in five years. Interestingly, they are looking at, and investing in, MIST: Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey. Some say the “S” should stand for South Africa.
In spite of the over-hyped press, Mexico is safe and on the rise. Between rising wages and transportation costs in Asia, the maquiladora business in Mexico is booming. Mexico has more free trade agreements in place than any other country in the world. There are good (privately owned) venues in the major cities and great suppliers, hotels and services.
The Arctic Ocean is deceptively vast, spanning 5.4 million square miles. In comparison, Russia in its entirety spans 6.6 million square miles. While most of the Arctic Ocean remains inaccessible, the shrinking of permanent sea ice has roused global economic interest for two reasons. First, the Northern Sea Route runs from the Bering Strait to the Barents Sea, and condenses the traditional “Royal Road” route by about 2500 nautical miles (approximately 10 days’ travel). If viable, the opening of this route would radically alter the transport of goods from Asian industrial hubs to Western consumer markets.
When National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror arrives in Turkey on Sunday to discuss compensation for flotilla victims, he will also be seeking to lay the groundwork for the stationing of Israeli fighter jets in an airbase near Ankara, ahead of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the Sunday Times reported.
“Until the recent crisis, Turkey was our biggest aircraft carrier,” an Israeli military source told the London-based publication. “Using the Turkish airbases could make the difference between success and failure once a showdown with Iran gets underway.”
The Kurdish government will sell oil and gas directly to Turkey in a deal that so far has bypassed the Iraqi government in Baghdad, which has warned the Kurds not to sign separate energy accords. Turkey may also take the Kurdish government’s stake in concessions operated by Exxon Mobil Corp. on the enclave’s border with the rest of Iraq, one of the people said.
“Large-scale oil exports would change the economic position of Kurdistan,” said Robin Mills, head of consulting at Dubai-based Manaar Energy Consulting and Project Management. “If this deal goes through, it’s an aggressive move by Turkey that really means busting relations with Baghdad.”
The Pentagon is sending about 200 soldiers from a U.S. Army headquarters unit to Jordan to assist efforts to contain violence along the Syrian border and plan for any operations needed to ensure the safety of chemical weapons in Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress Wednesday.
The decision to dispatch the 1st Armored Division troops of planners and specialists in intelligence, logistics and operations comes as several lawmakers pressed the Obama administration for even more aggressive steps to end the two-year civil war.The Pentagon leaders made clear that the situation is extremely complicated and they must be certain of the endgame before any military step to try to end the bloodshed.
The Turkish energy minister, Taner Yildiz, says his country would be open to the construction of a pipeline to distribute Israel’s newly discovered gas.
“The issue may become an important topic that the two can cooperate on,” said Ozel. “The Israelis have already made a suggestion to send some of their gas by pipelines to Turkey. And this fits well with Turkey’s grand desire to be the grill full of pipelines from north to south, from east to west, and therefore become on energy matters, if not a hub, certainly an indispensable transition place.”
A union of this nature, reminiscent of the so-called “phantom” and comparatively short-lived Periphery Doctrine adopted by prime minister David Ben-Gurion in 1958 but collectively revived, strengthened, and upgraded in the present context, would pool the military resources of these countries under a joint leadership to be agreed upon, and would have the potential of impeding the Turkish hegemon from acting belligerently in the region. (One can see how this rejuvenated policy would work by studying Israel’s covert military agreement with a resurgent Ethiopia and in its leveraging of its knowledge-based industries with many other countries, such as Brazil, Nigeria, China, and India.)
Israel is set to send warships to the eastern Mediterranean for a joint military exercise with Cyprus, according to a report which appeared in the Cypriot Fileleftheros daily on Tuesday and which was cited by the Turkish Today’s Zaman. Cypriot Defense Minister Fotis Fotiou confirmed that the joint exercise, which will include the participation of four or five Israeli warships, is due to start on April 25, the report said. Fotiou also noted that the exercise will focus on the security of the eastern Mediterranean region and that of gas companies.
An Israeli general has raised the possibility of creating a buffer zone in Syria, in cooperation with local forces wary of jihadist fighters, should President Bashar al-Assad be toppled.
Major-General Yair Golan said “many hundreds” of radical Islamists were fighting in Syria’s two-year-old civil war and could “take root” in Israel’s northern neighbour should Assad fall. He said the Israeli military was working on the assumption that these fighters would ultimately launch attacks against Israel, which captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
As it tries to play Russia off against Europe to salvage its economy, Cyprus has embarked on a high-stakes poker game that could see almost everyone lose. Its banks shattered by exposure to Greek debt, the island state urgently needs a way of bailing out its financial system. Cypriot policymakers hope they can begin to monetise as yet undeveloped offshore gas fields and position themselves as a vital source of energy for Europe. However, such income is still years away and delusions of becoming the Qatar of the eastern Mediterranean in the 2020s may prompt Cyprus to overplay its hand now.
NATO was ready to engage in Syria if its members saw the need, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis said.
Addressing US Senate’s Armed Services Committee, NATO commander said the North Atlantic Alliance was making contingency plans for a NATO military presence in Syria and was prepared to engage provided that such action was demanded. “We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared, if called upon, to be engaged as we were in Libya,” Stavridis said.
The relations between two regional allies, Turkey and Azerbaijan, are in a state of crisis once again. The Azerbaijani authorities are indignant over Turkey’s initiative to establish an air route with Armenia.
According to media, the Turkish air company Bora Jet is going to start flights to the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Azerbaijan believes that the Turkish government has something to do with the idea. The fact that Turkish President Abdullah Gul immediately congratulated Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarsgyan on his victory at the presidential elections was also a very unpleasant surprise for Azerbaijan.
The recent revelation, by a member the general secretariat of Kuwait´s National Party, according to whom the USA and Qatar are planning to divide Syria into small-states, is likely to further cool down east-west relations. The agreement, so al-Hamad, contains several points, such as a division of Syria into several smaller states with so-called moderate Islamist governments, the permanent annexation of the disputed Hatay region by Turkey, a reduction of the Syrian military forces to maximum 50,000 troops and other, which coincide with recent analysis by Dr. Perencik and Major Agha H. Amin.
The NATO oil pipeline in Turkey, which has so far been used solely for NATO purposes, will opened for civilian use, according to a source in the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources who prefers to remain unnamed. The goal of expanding the use of the pipeline is to deal a harsh blow against oil smuggling. The legal procedures and amendments to regulations concerning limits on the pipeline’s use are expected to be completed soon. The pipeline is roughly 3,000 kilometers long. The ministry source told Today’s Zaman that at present only 20 percent of its capacity has been utilized.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Turkey was seriously considering becoming a member of the SCO instead of continuing its efforts to join the EU.
‘The European Union needs to stop stalling us,’ Erdogan said. ‘We have a strong economy. I told [Putin], “You should include us in the Shanghai Five [the former name of the SCO] and we will say farewell to the European Union.” The Shanghai Five is much better off economic-wise. It is much more powerful. We told them, “If you say come, we will”.’
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
One of the most complex situations in the Middle East right now is the ongoing conflict in Syria between the government and opposition forces, in which at least an estimated 70,000 people have been killed.
Brahimi calls it a “quasi-Cold War” situation, with the United States supporting the opposition and Russia supporting the regime. Complicating the issue is the influence of regional powers such as Iran, Turkey, the Gulf States and the Arab League, as well as Israel’s military power in Israel.
Calling the continuing crisis an “absolute tragedy,” Brahimi holds many parties responsible for using tools of absolute war in order to gain power.
In the conflict zone stretching from Syria to Afghanistan lies another war waiting to re-emerge: Nagorno-Karabakh. This dispute is likely to occupy President Obama’s new foreign-policy team whether they want it or not.
Two decades ago the newly independent states of Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bitter war over this remote area of mountains and valleys. Armenia won the war, but nobody has achieved peace. A fragile ceasefire signed in 1994 remains the only tangible achievement of diplomacy. Since then, a mediation effort led by Washington, Moscow and Paris has sought a solution.
Starting in 2007, Ankara applied three times, unsuccessfully, to join theShanghai Cooperation Organization (informally known as the Shanghai Five). Founded in 1996 by the Russian and Chinese governments, along with three former Soviet Central Asian states (a fourth was added in 2001), the SCO has received little attention in the West, although it has grand security and other aspirations, including the possible creation of a gas cartel. More, it offers an alternative to the Western model, from NATO to democracy to the U.S. dollar as reserve currency.
Cyprus on Wednesday signed an agreement with French energy major Total to conduct exploratory drilling for gas and oil in two blocks off its southern shore. The deal comes as Cyprus aspires to become a regional energy hub with the prospect of oil as well as natural gas being tapped beneath the sea bed. Total signed a deal to exploit blocks 10 and 11 that are adjacent to a large natural gas find in block 12 and said it seeks to proceed in drilling for oil as well as gas reserves in the said blocks.
The present NATO-Armenia relationship is still in the phase of identification of goals rather than real regional partnership. As to real military cooperation, Armenia provides services to NATO without receiving military assistance, namely supply of weapons.
Armenia’s priority of its relation with NATO is political cooperation, identification of a form of cooperation which would allow avoiding isolation, prevent the use of the arena and mechanisms of NATO for isolation and blockade of Armenia. While Russia has not identified the nature of its claims to and concerns over NATO-Armenia rapprochement, there are no alternatives to further cooperation with the alliance.
Speaking on Turkish television the other night, the PM was asked about his country’s stalled and troubled European Union membership drive. Erdogan’s blunt bombshell of an answer suggested Turkey is considering dropping its EU bid in favor of joining the China- and Russia-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). “When things go so poorly, you inevitably, as the prime minister of 75 million people, seek other paths. That’s why I recently said to Mr. [Vladimir] Putin: ‘Take us into the Shanghai Five; do it, and we will say farewell to the EU, leave it altogether. Why all this stalling?’”
Turkey is in a rush to grow its energy sector. And recent news that the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, known as Taqa, will invest heavily in Turkish coal-fired power plants shows how serious Ankara is taking this commitment.
The deal, announced at the start of the year, will see Taqa build and operate a power generation base totalling 7,000 megawatts, or about 10 per cent of Turkey’s electricity needs by the time the plants are completed.
Last Friday, the Kurdish regional government stated that it had begun shipping crude oil to Turkey over the past week. That, of course, displeased the Baghdad government, which has now declared that it may seize such unauthorized oil exports and sue companies engaged in such dealings.
The Washington Post reports that the threatening notification was first spotted on the State Oil Marketing Organization’s website. The move will undoubtedly put further pressure on already-strained relations between the Iraqi central government and that of the Kurds—coming shortly after both parties apparently were prepared to go to war and troops were deployed along the internal border just two months ago.
Turkey’s intelligence services have held talks with jailed Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Direct negotiations may lead to a solution to the Kurdish conflict and could end decades of fighting. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government want to work out a scheme with Ocalan that would allow Kurdish rebels to lay down their weapons. News reports have leaked that PKK leaders in northern Iraq’s Qandil mountains would not be brought to trial but would instead be given the opportunity to seek exile elsewhere. Regular PKK fighters would be reintegrated into society.
Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Qods Force, a division of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which conducts special operations outside Iran, visited Egypt at the end of December at the invitation of President Mohamed Morsi’s government.
The Times of London reported that the purpose of the visit was “to advise the government on building its security and intelligence apparatus independent of the national intelligence services, which are controlled by Egypt’s military.” During the visit he met with Essam al-Haddad, foreign affairs adviser to Mr Morsi, and officials from the Muslim Brotherhood.
In November 2007, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas jointly addressed the Turkish parliament, an event that buttressed Turkey’s role in the region as an honest broker for peace. The Peres address was the first ever by an Israeli president before a Muslim parliament.
Turkey and Israel at that time were weighing the construction of an “infrastructure corridor” between the port cities of Ceyhan and Haifa, which would have included five separate underwater pipelines for oil, natural gas, electricity, water and communications. There was also speculation that these pipelines could go through Northern Cyprus.
The US helped to train and now equips the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF). The forces are used by Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki to help him centralise power and repress opposing Sunni politicians.
Robert Tollast in The National Interest maintains that even as the US prepared to drawn down its forces “elements of ISOF were already being used as a private army by Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.”
Syrian rebels severed one of the civil war-wracked country’s major natural gas pipelines, state media reported Monday.The Los Angeles Times reported rebels had seized oil fields and attacked other strategic targets in an attempt to deprive the Syrian government of much-needed cash.
The destruction of the pipeline north of the city of Dair Alzour Sunday wiped out production of an estimated 1.5 million cubic meters of natural gas that had fueled fertilizer factors and power generating plants, the Syrian Arab News Agency said.
United States Senator Richard Lugar has urged the Obama administration to break Russia’s energy monopoly in Europe and called on congress to lift limitations on deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) deliveries to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies in Europe.
His critical report, “Energy and Security from the Caspian to Europe”, and the proposed LNG for NATO Act came days after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline in the Russian Black Sea town of Anapa. Senator Lugar urged the US administration to do more for European energy security by supporting the Southern Corridor from Central Asia and the Caucasus to Europe.
Endless supplies of cigarettes, a BMW or Mercedes for between $4,000 and $6,000 but fuel at vastly inflated prices – the black market is thriving on the Syria-Turkey border.
“The vehicles come from Switzerland, where my brother is a second hand car dealer,” Abu Ahmad says. “They arrive in Syria legally,” he says, along with shipments of blankets, food and medicines for Syrians who have taken refuge from the country’s civil war in camps along the Turkish border.
Almost all of the Syrian refugees Iraq has accepted are Kurds into Iraqi Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous state in the north that exercises many of its own policies. Authorities elsewhere in Iraq have refused all but 9,000 Arab refugees for fear that the highly sectarian violence across the border in Syria may whip up similar flames in Iraq. The Kurds, though, are eager to help out their brethren, even if their resources are already stressed. So far, the Kurdish government has spent $11 million for the camp, but much more is needed. “We plan an international appeal,” Bakir says.
Syria appears to be moving closer by the day toward the end of Assad’s regime. In Western countries, the debate on a military intervention to secure the country’s “hot zones” is gaining momentum.
Until now, Western leaders have said that they would only support a military intervention if Assad used chemical weapons. Unfortunately, if the use of weapons of mass destruction is the only reason for intervention, people are going to make unhappy parallels with the recent past.
Rasmussen said, according to participants of the dinner, the Alliance should not “bury its head in the sand.” He explained his ideas among others by pointing to U.S. intelligence reports , according to which the Syrian army could prepare the use of chemical weapons. The Minister interpreted this as an attempt to develop plans for a direct or indirect intervention in Syria. One of the participants said, you’ve heard “the drums of war” used at the table. Rasmussen was supported by the United States, United Kingdom and Turkey according to SZ “very contentious” discussion.
The German government has decided to send up to 400 troops to Turkey’s border with Syria as part of a NATO mission. The troops are to accompany Patriot missile systems requested by Turkey.
The government confirmed in an early morning cabinet session what had emerged in media reports on Thursday. Germany is one of three NATO nations, along with the US and the Netherlands, that have access to the Patriot missile defense systems Turkey has requested to help defend against spillover violence in neighboring Syria.
A military coalition led by the US, ready to intervene in case the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons against rebel forces, could include Israel, Maariv has reported.
“It won’t require major movement to make action happen. The muscle is already there to be flexed,” a US official told The Times. “It’s premature to say what could happen if a decision is made to intervene. That hasn’t taken shape, we’ve not reached that kind of decision. There are a lot of options, but it [military action] could be launched rapidly, within days.”
The Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus had long been looking for appropriate international conditions to begin prospecting for petrol and natural gas and speeded these operations up after becoming a member of the EU in 2004. It prepared the way legally by signing exclusive economic zone agreements with Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel and then waited for a propitious set of circumstances to begin drilling. Just around this time in 2010, Israel announced that it had discovered about 685 billion m3 of natural gas in its Tamar and Leviathan fields.
NATO members Germany and the Netherlands will supply Turkey with the Patriot missile systems it has sought to bolster its national security against potential threats from war-torn Syria, Today’s Zaman reported.
Germany will provide two Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles to Ankara, while the Netherlands will deliver one Patriot PAC-2 missile, say reports by Turkey’s private NTV television, citing NATO sources.
The İzmir base, which will act as the Alliance’s sole Land Forces Command, will be where the coordination for troops in Afghanistan or the Middle East will be conducted from. Approximately 1,000 soldiers will be deployed to the base. However, with additional deployments from Spain and Germany the total number of military personnel on the base will reach 1,500.
Adm. James Stavridis, supreme allied commander, Europe, presided over a ceremony today that established NATO’s Allied Land Command. More than 100 distinguished visitors from various NATO countries and commands attended the ceremony held at the General Vecihi Akin Garrison in Sirinyer, Izmir, Turkey.
It delivers a planning capability in support of higher headquarters and the NATO Force Structure. And, when directed by the SACEUR provides the core of the headquarters responsible for the conduct of land operations and the synchronization of land forces command and control in accordance with the alliance’s level of ambition.
The United States should focus increasingly on courting Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey, four “global swing states” critical to the preservation of the Western-dominated international order, according to a new report released here Tuesday by two major U.S. think tanks.
“These four nations each possess a large and growing economy, a strategic location in their region and a commitment to democratic institutions. And critically, each nation’s precise international role is now in flux,” they noted.