UI – Part 653 – Greece, Israel, Cyprus and Egypt versus Turkey
It is all about energy and sea rights.
Turkey is in Libya today supporting the government in the West who is resisting the government in the East. It is Sarraj’s government pitted against the Haftar government. The UN supports Sarraj. But a dispute rages.
In the Eastern Mediterranean Turkey is the biggest economy. It is a secular nation, but becoming more Islamic with Erdogan at its head. It will become even more so if his tactics and desires continue and are supported. Recently he had the museum, the Hagia Sophia, converted to a mosque. It was built by Constantine’s mother, Helena, and remained the largest cathedral in the world for 900 years until 1453, the year Islamist Turks (Ottoman Sultan Mehmet) conquered Constantinople, and this beautiful structure to honor Jesus was converted into a mosque. In 1934 the secularist that modernized Turkey, Ataturk (founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk), had this mosque converted into a museum. Erdogan made it a mosque anew in July 2020 with Muslim services held on July 31. I consider this a travesty. It reflects Erdogan’s intentions. Turkish citizens must be the wiser, but in all likelihood will be treated as dissidents if they complain too much. What happens to dissidents in Islamic autocrat controlled nations can be barbaric, but the objective is one of fear as to any who resist the desires of the Islamist Erdogan.
Erdogan is flexing his muscle elsewhere too, in the Mediterranean. This is not as a champion for a democracy in Libya, it is for Turkey. If Erdogan can get his hands on oil or natural gas it will lessen his Nation’s dependence on third party sources. He is treading on the toes of Greece and Cyprus.
Cyprus is an island in the eastern Mediterranean divided (since 1974), north and south, between Turkey and Greece. Nicosia is its capital. Greece and Turkey are part of NATO. Cyprus is not.
Turkey has ships at sea exploring for natural gas. It has encroached on Greek islands, Rhodes and Kastellorizo (population 500 – the setting of the movie “Mediterraneo”). Kastellorizi is 1 mile off the coast of Turkey. Looking at maps of the area it is easy to see that Turkey has the largest Mediterranean coastline. It has many disputes as to the rights to explore the Mediterranean seabed. Even the location of the EastMed pipeline. Turkey has also claimed areas along the western Mediterranean coast of Libya as potential for exploration.
The EastMed pipe line is a venture involving Israel, Cyprus and Egypt to transport natural gas to Europe. The route would follow Israel to Cyprus to Crete to Greece to Italy to Europe, all underwater. Large gas deposits were discovered off Israel (Leviathan field) in 2009 (Chevron recently purchasing Noble Energy to exploit these resources). Turkey has made several gestures, one that the pipeline is illegal as it crosses territory they feel is theirs, also that to be fair Turkey and northern Cyprus should share in the benefits, or Turkey would allow a Russian pipeline to cross Turkey on route to Europe. Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said in an interview. “Regardless of the boundaries of exclusive economic waters, any ship can sail them, any airplane can fly above them, and any pipeline can be constructed through the economic waters of any country.” Israel intends to move forward regardless.
Turkey’s fear may not be the pipeline, now on hold as it is complicated, energy prices are down, and disputes rage, but Islam versus non-Muslims. Greece, Cyprus and Israel uniting in their effort.
Oh how interesting politics in the Middle East remains.
Grace and Peace