War in Nagorno-Karabakh Is a Gamechanger in Russian-Turkish Relations

By Paul Antonopoulos

Global Research, October 17, 2020

After Turkey downed a Russian jet operating in Syria in late 2015, there was a major risk that the Syrian War could explode into a greater conflict between the two Eurasian countries. The Turkish attack resulted in the death of two Russian servicemen and relations between Moscow and Ankara were again tested in December 2016 when Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, was assassinated by off-duty police officer Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş. Although Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted the explanation from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the assassination was not ordered by the state, Nordic Monitor has published compelling evidence that Altıntaş had strong connections to the so-called Turkish deep state. Despite these major setbacks in Russian-Turkish relations, by the end of 2017 the two countries signed a $2.5 billion agreement for Turkey to acquire the Russian-made S-400 air defence system, considered the most sophisticated of its kind in the world.

As is well-known, this deal resulted in tense relations between Turkey and its NATO allies, and many speculated that with Russian encouragement Ankara would eventually leave the Atlantic Alliance. It is highly unlikely that Turkey will ever leave NATO willingly or be ejected from the organization. Turkey, as a key country connecting East and West and controlling Straits linking the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, knows that it is one of the most important geostrategic countries in the world and can afford to leverage both NATO and Russia to advance its own ambitions.

The Russian-Turkish partnership has seen Ankara acquire the S-400 system, Russia has a critical part in the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, and cooperation on significantly reducing conflict in Syria. However, it now appears that Moscow is becoming increasingly frustrated and antagonized by Ankara’s constant escalation of hostilities across Russia’s southern flank and/or areas of interest. Despite Russia and Turkey cooperating in Syria, they support opposing sides in Libya, but this is not considered a major issue between them, or at least not enough to change the course of their bilateral relations. However, the war in Artsakh, or more commonly known as Nagorno-Karabakh, has exposed the fragility of relations between Moscow and Ankara.

Artsakh, despite being an integral part of the Armenian homeland for over 2,500 years and always maintaining an overwhelmingly Armenian majority population, was assigned to the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic in the early 1920’s. However, in 1989 Armenians in Artsakh demanded unification with the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. This demand was ultimately rejected by Moscow. However, the final collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 sparked a war in Artsakh. The Armenians achieved a decisive victory in 1994 and the Republic of Artsakh emerged, although it is still internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan.Turkey and Syria Are at War Without a Declaration of War

The OSCE Minsk Group, comprising of France, Russia and the U.S., is the foremost international body attempting to end the decades-long conflict between the de facto independent Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Although minor wars and skirmishes have been commonplace since 1994, the current war is the most serious escalation, especially when considering the internationalization of the conflict because of Turkey’s transfer of special forces, military advisers, and more importantly, Syrian jihadist mercenaries.

Many within the Syrian government and military have expressed frustration that Russia effectively prevented a Syrian Army offensive at the beginning of the year to liberate more areas of Idlib from Turkish-backed jihadist rule. It is likely that Moscow’s push for a ceasefire in Idlib was to appease Turkey in the hope that it would slowly de-escalate and eventually withdraw from Syria. However, Erdoğan used the lull in the fighting in Idlib to transfer Syrian jihadist mercenaries to fight in Libya. These militants fight on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood Government of National Accords based in Tripoli. They are in opposition to the Libyan National Army, which is based in Tobruk and has ties to Russia.

The transfer of Syrian militants to Libya certainly concerned Moscow, but Libya is not as geopolitically crucial for Russia. However, the transfer of Syrian militants to Azerbaijan brings various terrorists and mujahideen forces right to the very doorstep of Russia in the South Caucasus. Whereas Syrian militants in Idlib and Libya were no real threat to Russia directly, bringing such forces can now easily put them in direct contact with Islamist terrorists based in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia in Russia’s Caucasus region.

This will likely be a gamechanger in Russian-Turkish relations.

Moscow’s reaction to Turkey transferring Syrian terrorists to Azerbaijan is beginning to reveal itself. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that Moscow “has never considered Turkey as a strategic ally” and emphasized that Russian military observers should be placed on the line of contact between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Although Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev repeatedly calls for Turkey to be involved in the Minsk Group or in negotiations, Russia has continually blocked Ankara from being involved in any negotiations.

Russia’s frustration with Turkey can even be felt in the East Mediterranean now. As recently as September 5, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova angered many Greeks when she urged states to be “guided by common sense and take into consideration the geographical peculiarities of a region” when discussing Turkey’s illegal claims against Greece in the East Mediterranean. Zakharova effectively adopted Turkey’s arguments that if Athens enacts its international legal right to extend its territorial waters from six nautical miles to 12, then the Aegean will effectively become a “Greek lake,” and therefore the Turks believe “common sense” has to prevail over this “geographical peculiarity.”

However, only yesterday, it appeared that Moscow now indirectly supports Greece’s position in the East Mediterranean, with the Russian Embassy in Athens tweeting that “Russia’s position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council is the starting point. We consider the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea the ‘cornerstone’ of international maritime agreements. The Convention explicitly provides for the sovereign right of all States to have territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles and sets out the principles and methods for delimiting the [Exclusive Economic Zone]. This also applies to the Mediterranean.”

It was also announced yesterday that Lavrov will be making a working visit to Greece on October 28. Russia’s repositioning on the East Mediterranean issue by firmly supporting a states’ right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles as permitted by international law, something that Turkey has said would be a “reason for war” if Greece enacts its legal right, is likely part of its retaliation against Erdoğan’s transfer of Syrian terrorists to the doorstep of Dagestan. Although Moscow tolerated Erdoğan’s aggression in Syria, Iraq and Libya, by threatening war on Armenia, a Collective Security Treaty Organization member state, and transferring militants to the border of Dagestan, Turkey has overstepped Russia’s patience and this can be considered a gamechanger in their bilateral relations.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

Turkey’s Destabilizing Role

Source

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 10:22

With the current problems between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the continuous meddling of Turkey stirring trouble where it can-one cannot help but remember Cyprus and the way that beautiful Island was divided (1974) due to Turkish greed and a long time wish to reestablish the Ottoman Empire with a new face.

Cyprus pre-1974 was an island with a rising economy and status amongst world countries. Under the wise leadership of President Makarious it was navigating its way upwards.

Sadly the coup by the Greek Junta on President Makarious presented Turkey with an excuse to invade the Island-one that it had been searching for, for some time.

Syriatimes had the opportunity to interview Marinos Sizopoulos President of EDEK (a socialist Cyprus political Party).

EDEK party shrinks as turmoil escalates over ousted MEP, KNEWS

1- Can you give us a brief overview of the Cypriot problem-maybe going back to the British occupation of the island of Cyprus

After the occupation of Cyprus by the British, the Greek Cypriots of the island, in their very first official welcoming speech to the British in July 1878, asked for enosis (union) with Greece. The enosis was the main and constant demand of the Cypriots, expressed in every official memorandum to the British, in articles in the newspapers and speeches in the Legislative Council. 

The main turning points in the history of the movement for union with Greece was the 1931 revolt known as «Oktovriana», the referendum of 1950 and the EOKA struggle of 1955-1959. Specifically, the demand of Cypriots for Enosis urged them to an impulsive and not organized public revolt in 1931. The aftermath of the 1931 revolt was that the Governor’s House, symbolizing the colonial rule, was set on fire and an autocratic rule was imposed immediately afterwards.

In 1950 the results of the referendum for union (“enotiko dimopsifisma” as it is called) was that 96% of the Cypriots demanded the union of the island with Greece. Five years later, the EOKA struggle began which demanded the unification of the island with Greece. The struggle was ended with the Zurich and London Agreements in 1959. Following the Agreements, Cyprus was recognized as an independent state, the union could no longer be promoted and Turkey, Great Britain and Greece were imposed as the guaranteeing powers of the Republic of Cyprus. 

Few years later, in 1963, the military coup of Turkey against the Republic of Cyprus emerged. The coup was the first attempt of Turkey to put in action its plan for reoccupying Cyprus. This plan was designed in 1956 and it aimed to overthrow the legitimate government of the island by military force and integrate Cyprus to the Turkish regime.    Almost ten years later, in 1974, the military coup of the Greek military Junta allowed Turkey to invade and illegally capture 37% of the island. 

Since then, EDEK, the Socialist Party of Cyprus, has been struggling to set Cyprus free from the Turkish army. We demand all refugees be allowed to return to their home land, all settlers that illegally have been transferred by Turkey in the occupied areas, and all Turkish troops leave the island immediately. 

2- Archbishop Makarious the third was a well known leader of Cyprus-what was his role exactly?

Makarios was a charismatic leader. The people who met him, in Cyprus and abroad, admired him for his personality and knowledge. This can be confirmed by the thousands of letters that he received by his fans and followers from all over the word. Even in the reports of the foreign diplomats held in the historic archives we read how clever he was and how he fought for the justice of his people.   

Makarios succeeded to give prestige to both the office of Archbishop and that of the President of the Republic of Cyprus. He spent his life doing charity and missionary work in Cyprus and abroad. He was struggling for the establishment and strengthening of the Republic of Cyprus. By calling the name Makarios, we refer to the person whose work reflects our flag, our land, our struggles for freedom, national dignity and survival as Greek Cypriots.

His role after the Agreements in Zurich and London was focused on his initiatives for strengthening the Republic of Cyprus as an independent state. He worked hard for strengthening the role of Cyprus in the international community and especially into the Non-Aligned Movement. He systematically tried to give Cyprus an important and significant role in this Movement. As it is very well known he developed some really strong and sincere friendships with the Arab countries of the region, and specifically with Syria and Egypt. 

3- How many political parties are there in Cyprus?

There are four parliamentary parties in Cyprus which have been active for a few decades now. Randomly a few more parties, movements or combinations are popping up, but their existence is just for a short period of time. EDEK, of which I am President since 2015, was established in 1969. It is the socialist party of Cyprus, the fourth political power in the Cyprus Parliament.

4- In your opinion what was the reason for the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and did Greece play a detrimental role in this invasion?

Turkey’s main goal, set since the 1950s, was to integrate Cyprus into Turkish territory in order to gain a dominant role in controlling the Middle East.

Britain sought to maintain its military presence and influence in Cyprus, in order to continue to exploit the island’s geostrategic position to the benefit of its interests in the region.

The United States, which was acting within the context of the Cold War (as it was at its peak at the time), sought to avoid the internationalization of the Cyprus problem and, above all, the involvement of the Soviets in the island’s affairs.

The junta of Athens, subservient to American politics, contributed with various illegal political and military means to carry out the coup against Makarios and to enable Turkey to invade and occupy the 37%.

For the United States and Britain, the Turkish invasion was a way of resolving a chronic problem. A “resolution” which runs counter to international law and the UN Charter. 

5- What were the policies of the USA and Europe towards Cyprus after the invasion?

The main goal of the US and the European Union is not to clash with Turkey, with which their geo-strategic interests are particularly important. Thus, in violation of international law, European principles, resolutions and provisions of the UN Charter, they either maintain an equal distance, or push Turkey towards the realization of its goals. The United States does that by strengthening Turkey with military equipment, and the European Union by enhancing its trade relations and economic agreements with Turkey.

Editor-in-Chief Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

Turkey’s Destructive Role in the M.E and Europe

Source

Tuesday, 15 September 2020 10:49

Turkey has for a longtime now been the enzyme that speeds problems in the area of the Mediterranean. Still unable to stomach the Treaty of Lausanne(1923) which defined the borders of modern day Turkey it has for a long time now been scheming to extend its borders by land grabbing from other countries. This can be clearly depicted in two countries Cyprus and Syria .In 1974 Turkey attacked Cyprus and occupied a third of the island and formed on its own the “Republic of Northern Cyprus” recognized by no country in the world except its creator. In Syria the story is even sadder – not satisfied with usurping Alexanderetta ,Turkey opened its borders to terrorists to infiltrate Syria and aided and abetted them(During the war of terror on Syria). Now it has taken a further step by arming and training terrorists and by actually sending its troops inside Syria. Turkey dreams of a revival of the Ottoman Empire and for that to happen boundaries must change and towns and cities might have to be erased. A question arises –why does no one do anything about  this? Why is the world silent while Turkey wreaks havoc where it wants. What is the UN doing or for that matter the EU?

 Syriatimes carried out an interview with EU parliamentarian Athanasios Konstantinou to clarify certain points.

  Member of European Parliament  to ST: EU’s appeasement of Turkey, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens

 Member of European Parliament Athanasios Konstantinou reckons that hollow actions that have no political and economic impact will be taken by the EU against Turkey for political propaganda reasons.

 He told Syria Times e-newspaper that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated Greek airspace not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 Konstantinou, in addition, has pointed out that U.N. repeatedly over time appears  powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerate NATO to act in their place.

 Here below is the full text of the interview:

1-Can you tell us about the origins of the gas drilling dispute between Greece  and Turkey? 

For many decades Turkey has applied a calculated foreign policy that aims to seize as much of the Aegean Sea as possible, part of a larger plan to enforce itself as a Mediterranean power.

 This policy is obviously effective, due mostly to the failure of all past and present Greek governments (and their allies) to efficiently protect the Greek borders. This explains why Turkey defies international law and openly and officially threatens war, if Greece exercises its rights to the “12 nautical miles” international law, in Aegean.

A major phase for the implementation of their strategy was the occupation of Northern Cyprus. Until then, the Turkish plan was a “paper” one, but since then, Turkey is moving with real steps. Consider that from the 1980 till today, more than 60.000 Turkish planes have infiltrated the Greek airspace  not counting the paralleling actions of the Turkish navy.

 All major powers and alliances endorse the Turkish plan, otherwise the occupation of Cyprus, with its obvious geopolitical effects, would not have been tolerated and possibly would have not been tried by the Turks!

 So in that light, what we see now regarding the “drilling dispute” as you put it, is not surprising.

2-Is the United Nations able to influence Turkey?? 

The United Nations, unfortunately, wasn’t able in the past and cannot in the present, influence Turkey. Allow me to remind your readers that, for the illegal Turkish occupation forces in Cyprus, U.N. voted two resolutions, ordering the withdrawal of the Turkish army.

 Nothing of the kind has happened.

 Furthermore, the UN voted on an arms embargo for Libya, an embargo, today de facto ignored by Turkey and other countries.

 The greater issue here is that, U.N. repeatedly over time appears powerless and without the will to enforce international law and in that way tolerates NATO to act in their place.

And NATO’s first priority, of course, is the protection of USA’s interests and not the international law.

3-Many EU emergency summits were held concerning this issue, were the results positive?

The results of these summits, can barely  be described as “not-negative” but we certainly cannot define them as positive. In my opinion, European Union with its appeasement Turkish policy, has severely damaged the trust of the European peoples in the Union. And without any doubt, has deeply injured the trust of Greek citizens. After all, Greek borders are part of the E.U. ’s borders. And the Greek economy as well. When a malicious outsider defies your borders and tries to rip-off your wealth and you don’t defend either, then you void the reasons for your own existence as a Union.

4- Is the EU likely to approve  sanctions on Turkey ? What kind of sanctions will they be and most importantly how effective?  

So far, everything points out that no real measures or sanctions will be imposed on Turkey from E.U. Only hollow and without political or economic impact actions will be taken and only for political propaganda reasons.

If this is the case, then we are led to believe that EU politics obey and serve not the interests of European citizens but those of  big international financial lobbies. And I know that this is most frustrating for the Syrian people also, because you have felt this injustice through the sanctions imposed to Syria.

5-How does Libya enter into this equation? 

The Turkish involvement in Libya, is the second major stepping stone, of their plan to promote themselves to a Mediterranean power, as I have pointed out earlier.

The Turkish government wisely tries to capitalize on NATO’s great mistake and injustice on Libya, where once more, international financial lobbies have indicated policies aiming to gain and disregard the will of the peoples. The result was chaos in Libya and opportunity for Turkey. This is why other countries like Egypt, counteract against the Turkish actions.

Editor in chief : Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

تقليص أجنحة الإمارات يجمع إيران وتركيا

تقليص أجنحة الإمارات يجمع إيران وتركيا - ميدل ايست نيوز بالعربي

عباس بوصفوان

الخميس 17 أيلول 2020

أتقنت الإمارات، على نحو لم يحدث من قبل، تجميع خصوم أشدّاء ضدها، يملكون مشروعاً وطنياً يرتكز على القومية، والإسلام، والتاريخ المديد المتعدد الطبقات، وسردية دستورية تستند إلى بُعدَي الجمهورية (البعد الشعبي والانتخابات، على علاتها) والدين في شكله الشيعي أو السني، وعقيدة سياسية ذات قوام ناعم قابلة للنمذجة والتصدير والجذب، وموقعاً استراتيجياً، وغنى ثقافياً، وعدداً سكانياً ضخماً، وقوة اقتصادية ذاتية، وعتاداً عسكرياً يحسب له ألف حساب، وحلفاء عقائديين، وحضوراً عالمياً… وكذا تحديات جمّة تجعل من الإمارات الصغيرة غير قادرة على إزعاج النّمرين الآسيويين الصاعدين.

أهداف طهران وتركيا

يبدو أن ما يشغل طهران وأنقرة، بعد التطبيع الإماراتي مع الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، ليس الدخول مع الإمارة الصغيرة الطموحة في حرب ساخنة، فذاك ما تكرهه إيران، التي تجيد القيادة من الخلف. وهو أمر تعلّمته تركيا، في ما يبدو، في تدخلها المثير للجدل في ليبيا، لكن «المتوازن» إن صح القول مقارنة بتدخلها الفج والقبيح والدموي في سوريا.
الأرجح أن الدولتين المسلمتين الكبيرتين، ستضعان الخطط الساعية إلى تقليص أجنحة الإمارات، بما يعيد الدولة الخليجية الفتية الغنية إلى ما كانت عليه تقليدياً، من سوق تجارية كبرى، لا خصماً سياسياً متقدماً، ولا موطئ قدم للمخابرات المعادية، ولا منصّة لإطلاق النار، ولا مقراً لتغذية النزاعات الإقليمية، ولا بؤرة للتناحر الإقليمي والدولي، وإن احتفظت لنفسها بموقع المنبر الإعلامي المعادي فذاك من الأمور المتفهمة. ولا شك في أن هذا الموضوع كان في صلب النقاش الإيراني التركي في الاجتماع الذي التأم افتراضياً قبل أيام، ودعا فيه الرئيس روحاني نظيره التركي إردوغان إلى موقف مشترك من التطبيع الإماراتي.

التطبيع إيرانياً وتركياً

تستثمر كل من إيران وتركيا الكثير في القضية الفلسطينية، بعدما أدركت أنقرة أن نفوذ طهران عميق بين فصائل المقاومة، في وقت يظهر فيه الخطاب السعودي – الإماراتي رغبة متزايدة في إسدال الستار على قضية العرب الأولى. بيد أنه يجدر أن نلحظ فارقاً نوعياً بين مقاربة طهران مقارنة بأنقرة في موضوع إسرائيل، ووجودها في المنطقة، وتالياً إرساء علاقات دبلوماسية معها، وخصوصاً في الوقت الراهن، حيث يتنافس محور تركيا – قطر – «الإخوان» من جهة، مع محور السعوديين والإماراتيين والمصريين من جهة أخرى، على كسب ود أميركا، الحاضن الرئيسي للاحتلال. يفرض ذلك على تركيا، التي تملك علاقة دبلوماسية قديمة مع تل أبيب، وقطر التي سبق لها أن استقبلت مكتباً إسرائيلياً في قلب الدوحة، أن لا يظهرا رفضاً مبدئياً لوجود الكيان الإسرائيلي والتطبيع معه.

يحرص المحور التركي على تمييز مساره عن المحور السعودي


يحرص المحور التركي على إبراز معارضته للتطبيع استناداً إلى رفض إسرائيل الإقرار بالحقوق الفلسطينية، كما يحرص على تمييز مساره عن المحور السعودي، المتحالف هو الآخر مع واشنطن. تظهر قناة «الجزيرة»، «توازناً» لافتاً بين مختلف الآراء، فلا تعطي وقتاً أوسع للأصوات المعبرة عن موقف مبدئي للاحتلال، بل تمنح متسعاً عريضاً للمثقفين العرب «المعتدلين»، الداعين إلى تسوية مع إسرائيل تفضي إلى التطبيع، وأولئك الذين يبررون العلاقة معها، حتى من دون تسوية.
السعوديون يسعون، من جهتهم، إلى القول بأنهم أقرب إلى أميركا، بيد أن القطري والتركي نجحا في السنوات الماضية في شد عصب العلاقة مع واشنطن، وحتى واشنطن ترامب، الأقرب إلى السعودي. من ناحيتها، تعتقد إيران وحلفاوها أن المنطقة لن تبلغ مستوى الاستقلال الحقيقي إلا بإخراج القوات الأميركية، التي تتحالف معها تركيا وقطر. أمّا إسرائيل، فهي إيرانياً قاعدة أميركية متقدمة، وجب اجتثاثها، ولمّا كان من الصعب أن تقوم إيران مباشرة بذلك، فإنها تحتضن ما بات يعرف بحركات المقاومة، التي تهدد الكيان وتحشره في الزاوية.

ما الذي أجّج الخلافات؟

ما يجعل الأتراك والإيرانيين يرفعون الصوت عالياً تجاه أبو ظبي، هو مضيّ الأخيرة في رفع عقيرتها إلى درجة إرسال طائرات للمشاركة في مناورات يونانية، موجهة ضد تركيا، والمضيّ – بالمقابل – في إرساء علاقة متينة مع تل أبيب، موجهة ضد طهران. اعتاد الطرفان التركي والإماراتي أن يتصادما في ليبيا وسوريا ومصر، لكن الإمارات تمضي بعيداً حين تنقل الصراع إلى حدود أنقرة، كما على حدود قطر. وطالما اصطدم الإماراتي والإيراني في اليمن ولبنان والعراق والبحرين، لكن إدخال أبو ظبي إسرائيل على خط المواجهة يفرض على طهران تعاملاً مختلفاً.
سمعنا تنديداً من إردوغان وروحاني بالإماراتيين، والتقديرات المرجحة أن أبو ظبي ستضطر، على الأرجح، ولو في هذه الفترة التجريبية، إلى دعوة إسرائيل وأميركا إلى أن لا تحوّلا المدينة التجارية إلى منصة عسكرية موجّهة نحو إيران، بيد أن ذلك لن يطمئن طهران إلا بعد أن تتحول الفرضية إلى واقع، وإلا باتت «المدينة التي من زجاج» هدفاً إيرانياً مشروعاً.
ولا ننسى أن الحصار ضدّ قطر وإيران وتركيا يجمعها ضد الإمارات، التي يعني تحجيمها تحجيم الرياض.

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توسّع أردوغان في شرق المتوسّط مسمار نعش النهاية..

سماهر الخطيب

وجّهت الولايات المتحدة بالأمس دعوة إلى الحليف الناتوي تركيا لسحب قواتها من شرق المتوسط.

وجاءت الدعوة على لسان وزير الخارجية الأميركية مايك بومبيو عشية زيارته إلى قبرص بهدف التوصل إلى حل سلميّ يُنهي التوتر في المنطقة.

وبحسب بومبيو فإن «زيارته لقبرص تأتي استكمالاً لاتصالات أجراها الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب مع نظيره التركي رجب طيب أردوغان ورئيس الوزراء اليوناني»، مشدداً على «ضرورة حل النزاع بطريقة دبلوماسية وسلمية». كما أشار إلى «دور ألمانيا في السعي إلى خفض التوتر».

فيما أكدت الدول الأوروبية السبع المطلة على المتوسط في ختام قمتها بشأن الأوضاع في شرق المتوسط استعدادها لـ»فرض عقوبات على تركيا ما لم تتراجع عما وصفته بتحركاتها الأحادية الجانب في المنطقة».

كما أكدت الدول الأوروبية السبع “دعمها الكامل وتضامنها مع قبرص واليونان في وجه التعديات المتكررة على سيادتهما وحقوقهما السيادية والأعمال التصعيدية من جانب تركيا”، وفق ما جاء في البيان.

وندّد الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون أول أمس، بـ”لعبة الهيمنة لقوى تاريخية” في البحر الأبيض المتوسط وليبيا وسورية، مسمياً تركيا. وقال ماكرون إن «دول المتوسط السبع تريد حواراً بنية حسنة مع تركيا التي تقود سياسة توسعية في البحر الأبيض المتوسط».

وفي المشهد التركي يبدو أنّ أردوغان ماضٍ إلى نهاية حقبته «الأردوغانية»، بعد أن أصبحت نزعته «السلطانية» المتحكمة والمسيطرة على أفعاله وأقواله. وهو يعلم جليّاً بأنّ تلك النزعة التوسعية فاقدة أي شرعية أو مشروعية وخالية من أي سند قانوني يدعمها أو حق تاريخي يؤصّلها، ليس في مياه البحر الأبيض المتوسط، فحسب، إنما في معظم الأراضي السورية التي سلخها أجداده عن أمها السورية بلا حق وها هو اليوم يفتح عليه أبواب مواجهات قاسية وقاصمة، قد تصل إلى حد الحرب.

ومنذ أن وقعت تركيا اتفاقية ترسيم الحدود مع الوفاق الليبية ولم تكل ولم تهدأ بتوجيه تهديداتها لجيرانها في منطقة شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط، وبخاصة قبرص واليونان، وذلك من خلال إعلانها الخاص بتوسيع نطاق عملياتها لاستكشاف حقول الغاز في المنطقة المتنازع عليها شرقي المتوسط، وتأكيدها على مواصلة سفينة التنقيب التركية “ياووز” أعمالها، خلال الفترة الممتدة من 18 آب، وحتى نهاية أيلول الحالي.

وصرّح أردوغان مراراً أن بلاده ستستأنف عمليات التنقيب وستبحث عن مصادر الطاقة قبالة جزر يونانية، متوعّداً بعدم التراجع عن توغل بلاده في شرق المتوسط، زاعماً أن لبلاده «الحق تماماً» في المنطقة المتنازع عليها مع اليونان.. وإذا ما فتحنا دفتر الحساب حول الحق المزعوم فسنجد أنّ هذه «الحقوق العثمانية» ما هي إلا الأوهام مجرّدة من المصداقية بنت إمبراطوريتها السابقة على المجازر التي ارتكبتها كالمجازر الأرمنية والسريانية واقتطعت الأراضي بلا أدنى حق متذرعة بقوة السيف من جهة وباتفاق مع حلفاء الحربين العالميتين الأولى والثانية من جهة أخرى..

إنما هروب أردوغان من الجهة الغربية نحو جهة المتوسطية سيكون مسماراً في نعش النهاية الحتمية لجنون الحقبة «الأردوغانية» التي عاشتها بلاده ودفعت وستدفع أكلافها عالية وغالية..

إذ أضحى أردوغان عدواً مشتركاً للغرب وللشرق بتصرّفاته الرعناء ولم تقتصر تلك العداوة على الخارج بل ظهرت وتغلغلت داخل بلاده وبين مواطنيه..

ودخل في دوامة الخلافات مع محيطه الشرقي والغربي وبات العمق الاستراتيجي أضغاث أحلام ولم يعد يساوي الحبر الذي كتب فيه أحمد داوود أوغلو كتابه موجهاً دعواته لحزبه السابق حزب العدالة والتنمية بالتوجه نحو الشرق والداخل المشرقي وباتت رؤية “صفر مشاكل” صفراً على شمال طموحات أردوغان الرعناء.. فأصبح الإقليم برمته ضدّه، فبينما تلوّح أوروبا بورقة العقوبات، تحرّك فرنسا قطعها الحربية إلى المتوسط، وواشنطن تفتر علاقتها به وتطلب منه بصريح العبارة سحب قواته من المتوسط وتدين “الجامعة العربية” تصرفاته وتطالبه بسحب قواته من سورية وليبيا وغيرها من البلاد التي عاث فيها فساداً ليبدو وكأنّ الجميع اتفق عليه ويتجه نحو تشكيل حلف جديد في رحم المنطقة لملاقاته، والذي يبدو في الزمن القريب قدراً مقدوراً..

في المحصلة تبدو نهاية «الأردوغانيّة» أمراً محتوماً وحقيقة مؤكدة، وفي التاريخ الكثير من أمثولات أطماع أردوغان وأوهامه التي تسببت بانهيار إمبراطوريات كبيرة واندثرت حضارات عظيمة، إذا ما افترضنا أنّ تركيا «حضارة» وإن كانت، فإنما حضارة مسروقة مبنية على مجازر..

وفي العودة إلى التاريخ، فإن كثيراً من الإمبراطوريات انهارت وفسدت واضمحلت من داخلها، بسبب تصرفات حكامها وما محاولة أردوغان لبناء دولة خلافة تركية من جديد، إلا أوهام مضادة لحركة التاريخ وتزييف لتطور البشرية..

وإذا ما استمرّ في تجاوزاته لكل الخطوط الحمر فإن نهايته حتماً ستأتي على يد تحالف دولي إقليمي، قد يتحول إلى حلف عسكري في القريب العاجل، للقضاء على أوهام السلطان الذي لم يعد له صاحب أو صديق..

سورية الأسد… وإعادة رسم خطوط التماس بألوان النفط والغاز!

محمد صادق الحسيني

فيما تمضي القيادة السورية وحلفاؤها الإقليميون بخطى وطيدة دفاعاً عن ثوابتها وملفاتها القومية والوطنية من فلسطين والجولان وصولاً الى الداخل السوري الخاصة بالدستور والسيادة ووحدة الأراضي، تحركت القيادة الروسية في اندفاعتها الجديدة الاقتصادية السياسية نحو دمشق من أجل وضع ملامح مرحلة مستجدة لا بدّ منها في مواجهة تحوّلات شرق المتوسط المتلاحقة…

مصادر واسعة الاطلاع على مطبخ صناعة القرار الروسي تقول بأنّ الوفد الروسي الكبير الذي زار دمشق في الساعات الماضية برئاسة نائب رئيس الوزراء بيسلوف وكلّ من رئيس الديبلوماسية الروسية لافروف والسيد بوغدانوف باعتباره نائب وزير الخارجية المكلف بالمنطقة، حمل معه ورقة سياسية اقتصادية متكاملة تحمل ثلاثة بنود مرحلية أساسية فيها مصلحة دمشق أولاً ومن ثم لكلّ من موسكو وحلفاء دمشق الآخرين أيضاً وهي التالية:

أولاً: تجميد الميادين السورية والصراعات السياسية من الآن الى حلول الصيف المقبل بهدف إنجاح الاستحقاق الانتخابي الرئاسي السوري بحيث تجري الانتخابات في أوسع المحافظات والأراضي السورية بشكل قوي داخليا ومقبول دستورياً ويكبّل ألسنة المجتمع الدولي المتطلب والمعاند…

في هذه الأثناء تقوم الدول الضامنة في أستانة بتثبيت مناطق خفض الصراع في ادلب وتعزيز الإنجازات فيها

كما تضمن روسيا احتضان الورقة الكردية والمعارضات «المعتدلة» باتجاه ضبط اندفاعتها تحت مظلة الدولة الوطنية السورية.

ثانياً: ضخّ الدم في دورة إعادة بناء الاقتصاد السوري انطلاقاً من حقول النفط والغاز غير المنتجة بعد ولكنها الجاهزة بالمسح الجيولوجي من خلال تنشيط العمل فيها تحت مظلة روسية حفاظاً على حقوق الطاقة السورية من أن تذهب سدى أو أن تتعرّض للضياع وسط صراعات الطاقة شرق المتوسط التي تتناهشها القوى الإقليمية والدولية الطامعة بثروات المتوسط الهائلة…

تجدر الإشارة مثلاً الى انّ بئراً واحدة من النفط في الحقل ١٤ شمال طرطوس يحتوي على كميات يُقال إنها ثلاثة أضعاف إنتاج الكويت…

ثالثاً: إدراج سورية كلاعب أساسي وتنشيط دورها وحقها القومي والإقليمي والعالمي في الدفاع عن أمن واستقرار المتوسط، وهو ما تراه روسيا بأنه ينبغي ان يصبّ في إطار «تحالف المصلحة الواسع» مع تركيا عملياً ومن معها بضمانة روسية لمواجهة ما يسمّونه بديل خط نابوكو الذي دمّرت سورية من أجله (كان يُراد أن يمرّ من سورية بديلاً لخطي الغاز الروسي والإيراني لأوروبا) واليوم انتقل ليكون عبر الكيان الصهيوني بالتعاون مع مصر وقبرص واليونان وبرعاية فرنسية وناتوية (الناتو)…

وتعتقد موسكو في هذا الاتجاه بأنّ مثل هذا التحالف الموسع من شأنه أن يوقف الاندفاعة الاستعمارية الفرنسية ضدّ لبنان وامتداداً الى السواحل الليبية..

الأهمّ من كلّ هذا فإن موسكو ورغم أولوية مصالحها الاقتصادية ترى بأنّ مثل هذه الخطوات الثلاثة: ايّ تثبيت خطوط الميدان، وتنشيط الاقتصاد السوري عبر مظلة الطاقة الروسية، وتحالف الطاقة الموسع ضدّ الاندفاعة الفرنسية الغربية، من شأنه ان يمرّر السنة الأصعب اقتصادياً وسياسياً على سورية في ظلّ الحصار الأميركي، بأقلّ الخسائر فضلاً عن تثبيته لحكم الرئيس المقاوم بشار الأسد السيادي والقوي على عكس ما يروّج الغرب الاستعماري بأنّ موسكو تبحث عن فيدرالية او حكم انتقالي أو إعادة بناء سورية بتفصيل معاد للعروبة…!

وهو ما نفاه رجال الاقتصاد والديبلوماسية الروسية بشكل واضح وصريح في مؤتمرهم الصحافي المشترك مع الوزير وليد المعلم يوم أمس في دمشق.

مرة أخرى علينا كدول وقوى محور المقاومة التسريع في إعادة رسم خطوط دفاعاتنا الداخلية الوطنية والقومية والحضارية بالصلابة اللازمة حتى نخفف دفع أثمان تحالفات الأمر الواقع التي تفرضها الأحداث المتسارعة…!

وحدة الدم ووحدة الساحات بوجه ما يُراد لنا من مشاريع سايكس بيكو جديدة او للتقليل من إطالة صراعنا مع العدو الرئيسي بسبب حاجاتنا الخارجية التي لا بدّ منها حتى لصديق معتمد مثل روسيا…

والأهمّ من ذلك إعادة ترميم وتدعيم وتعزيز محور المقاومة وهو السلاح الأمضى والقاطع أمام كلّ التحديات.

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

مقالات متعلقة

Turkey Makes New Greece Threat ahead of Military Drill

Erdogan

 September 5, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday issued a threat to Greece over simmering tensions in the eastern Mediterranean, the day before his forces launch military drills in the region.

Turkey and Greece, both Nato members, have been embroiled in an increasingly heated spat over gas and oil in the region since Turkey deployed an exploration vessel last month.

“As Turkey and the Turkish people, we are ready for every possibility and every consequence,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul.

Turkish defense officials said they would start five days of military exercises on Sunday in the breakaway republic of northern Cyprus — an entity recognized only by Ankara.

Nato said this week Greek and Turkish leaders had agreed to take part in technical talks to avoid accidents between their navies.

But Greece later said it had not agreed to the talks, leading to accusations from Turkey that the EU country was shunning dialogue.

Greece and Cyprus have accused Turkey of breaching their sovereignty by drilling in their waters.

But Erdogan made it clear that he would not compromise, saying: “Turkey is ready for any kind of sharing (of energy resources) as long as it is fair.”

Turkey on August 10 deployed the Oruc Reis research vessel and an escorting flotilla of warships to the waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Kastellorizo and Crete.

The vessel’s stay in the contested waters has been extended three times.

Greece responded by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and the United Arab Emirates, not far from smaller ones Turkey conducted between Cyprus and Crete last week.

Source

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الدور الروسيّ في الاندفاعة الفرنسيّة الأخيرة نحو لبنان…

 باريس – نضال حمادة

فرنسا تعود إلى لبنان من الباب الواسع دولياً إقليمياً ومحلياً، وتأتي هذه العودة الفرنسية في ظل أزمات كثيرة يعيشها لبنان اقتصادية وأمنية وسياسية واجتماعية، فضلاً عن وباء كورونا الذي ينتشر بسرعة، وبسبب هذه الأوضاع المأساويّة لم تجد فرنسا أي اعتراض على اندفاعتها السياسية والامنية والعسكرية من أي طرف لبناني، وهي عندما دخلت الى لبنان أمنت لدخولها غطاء دولياً يمكن القول إن الغطاء الروسي هو الأهم في هذه المرحلة التي تعيش فيها أميركا أشهر ما قبل الانتخابات الرئاسية والتي تشل حركة السياسة الأميركية الخارجية، خصوصاً في منطقة الشرق الأوسط الساخنة والمليئة بالمشاكل.

ماذا عن الغطاء الروسي؟

تقول مصادر سياسية في العاصمة الفرنسية باريس إن الاندفاعة الفرنسية هذه أتت بسبب الأزمة التركية مع اليونان وقبرص في البحر المتوسط، فضلا عن التقدم التركي في ليبيا التي تعتبر فرنسا أنها الأحق بالدخول إليها بسبب قيادتها عملية إسقاط نظام الرئيس الليبي السابق معمر القذافي.

المصادر قالت إن فرنسا وضعت لتركيا خطوطاً حمراء في البحر المتوسط وحصلت على تأييد روسيا في هذا الأمر، لكون الأزمة التركية بالأصل مع دولتين لديهما أغلبية أرثوذوكسية، كما تتخذ كل من موسكو وباريس موقفاً متطابقاً في وجه التمدد التركي في ليبيا، التي أرسلت اليها روسيا بطاريات صواريخ أس 300 نصبتها في سرت بعد تقدّم الأتراك في طرابلس الغرب بفعل استقدامهم مرتزقة من الجماعات السوريّة المسلحة الى ليبيا.

المصادر الفرنسية تشير الى تنسيق روسي فرنسي واسع بشأن الأزمة التركية مع قبرص واليونان وتفيد أن قصر الإيليزيه شكل خلية أزمة تضمّ رئيس أركان الجيوش الفرنسية ومسؤولي أجهزة الاستخبارات ووزير الخارجية ووزير الداخلية لمتابعة مجريات الأحداث والتنقيب الذي تقوم به تركيا عن الغاز في البحر المتوسط.

وتشير المصادر إلى أن فرنسا لعبت دوراً كبيراً ضد تركيا في الاتحاد الأوروبي ما أدّى الى تراجع المانيا عن موقفها الرافض لتهديد تركيا بفرض عقوبات أوروبية عليها، وتشكل علاقة ألمانيا مع روسيا الجيدة، سبباً آخر في تراجع ألمانيا عن دعم تركيا وفي كلتا الحالتين يعتبر ما حصل انتصاراً لماكرون في هجومه لحصار تركيا.

من هنا تكمن أهمية لبنان بالنسبة لفرنسا وأهمية مرفأ بيروت القريب جداً من مناطق التنقيب التركية في البحر المتوسط الذي سوف يكون ساحة الكباش الدولي على الغاز.. وهذه المرة في مياه البحار.

مقالات متنوعة

West Asian states should unite against U.S.-Israel-Saudi-UAE axis: Turkish party leader

By Mohammad Mazhari

August 30, 2020 – 23:53

TEHRAN – Utku Reyhan, the secretary-general of the nationalist Patriotic Party in Turkey, is of the opinion that West Asian countries including Iran and Turkey can form an alliance to confront common threats posed by the U.S. and its allies in the region.

 “West Asian countries should come together against the USA-Israel-Saudi-UAE axis because we are facing common threats,” Reyhan tells the Tehran Times.

Turkey and some Arab states in the Persian Gulf region are caught in a diplomatic row over a range of issues including the recent move by the Emirates to normalize ties with Israel. 

On August 13, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, announced the UAE’s agreement to normalize relations with Israel which sparked anger among Islamic nations and some Muslim states like Iran and Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he may sever ties with the UAE in opposition to its normalization agreement with Israel.

Reyhan also says it is a “necessity” that both Turkey and Egypt settle their disputes.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: Do you believe that Iran, Turkey, and some progressive Arab countries can establish a regional alliance?

A: This alliance can be established and it has already been done. West Asian countries should come together against the axis of the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates because we are facing common threats.

Q: What is the attitude of Turkey about the presence of foreign powers in the region especially in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan? What do you think of the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel?

A: The UAE has once again demonstrated its destructive role for our region by making an agreement with Israel. It’s not surprising, frankly. They even ally with the devil for their own benefit! Our goal is a West Asia free from all external forces and influences; A region dominated by peace and mutual respect, and a common effort to fight against terrorism. Turkey is slowly coming to this line, and that is why the U.S. is trying to undermine the Erdogan government. They tried to overthrow his government and kill him. That opened Erdogan’s eyes to see the facts more clearly. Now Turkey heads towards a more region-based policy. 

Q: President Erdogan announced on Friday that Turkey made its biggest-ever discovery of natural gas after completing new exploration work in the Black Sea. What will be the impact of the discovery on Turkey’s political and economic future? 

A: As you said the discovery has a historic importance for Turkey. Turkey’s gas find meets its need for natural gas for 7 years. This means about 70 billion dollars. But Turkey cannot solve its energy problems by the recent discovery and the country will continue to buy natural gas. However, with the discovery of new reserves in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the need to buy natural gas from outside may decrease over time.
It does not mean that economy of Turkey will be heavily dependent on gas, like oil-dependent countries including Saudi Arabia. Turkish industry is multidimensional.

Q: Do you see any possibility to solve problems between Turkey and Egypt?

A: This is a necessity for both countries. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech he gave recently, stated that Turkey is ready to meet with all countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt is undoubtedly one of these countries. Turkey must attract Egypt which is now on the side of Greece and the United States. This can be done by putting aside old disputes.

Q: Given the Persian Gulf states’ attempts to confront Turkey in Libya, what is the stance of Ankara to the ceasefire in Libya? Do you expect a comprehensive solution in Libya?

A: Turkey is supporting the legitimate government in Libya. Libya and Turkey have a maritime boundary in the Mediterranean Sea. 
Moreover, there are serious historical and cultural ties between the two countries.
For these reasons Turkey attempts to reinforce its ties with Libya are understandable.
We are thinking differently from the Turkish government. Turkey should attract Egypt and Syria to its side in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey should not be left alone in the eastern Mediterranean front established by U.S., Israel, Cyprus, and Greece.

Ankara should follow a policy that includes strengthening ties with Russia. In Libya, a ceasefire is necessary only to the extent that it serves Libya’s political unity.

Q: Why does Turkey enter the regional conflicts especially in Libya while it had announced before that it would follow the policy of “zero problems with neighbors?”

A: I explained above. Turkey and Libya have a maritime boundary and are neighbors with deep-rooted ties. Instead of questioning Turkey, we should ask countries such as the U.S. and Israel which do not have a maritime border with Libya.

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Another warm summer in East Med – August update

Another warm summer in East Med – August update

by Kakaouskia for The Saker Blog

Greetings to the Saker community and readers.

This article is an update on the events described in the first article as the situation is evolving.

As Saker’s readers might recall, Greece and Turkey were locked into a cat and mouse game in the Eastern Mediterranean over their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) boundaries.

After the collision between F-451 Limnos (S class frigate) and F-247 TCG Kemalreis Turkey appears to have reinforced the flotilla surrounding their research vessel Oruç Reis by removing 2 of the – obsolete – corvettes and adding frigates.

On the other hand, the Hellenic navy released a photo of the Turkish frigate after the collision with Lemnos, showcasing the damage inflicted.

Kemalreis

(Image taken from https://marineschepen.nl/nieuws/images/beschadigd-turks-fregat.jpg Courtesy of Hellenic Navy)

In an unprecedented move Greece and France deployed fighters together in Cyprus; France deploed 3 Rafales and Greece a total of 8 F16s. These took part into a 3-day exercise (26th – 28th of August) between Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy which included naval and land assets as well. If one takes into account that Cyprus is not supposed to have any kind of access to NATO weaponry, having a dozen fighters for days on a Cypriot airbase must have annoyed certain circles in NATO.

The conmemorative foto of the exercise (image taken from https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EgZ6cloXsAA9y8j?format=jpg&name=large)

Coincidentally last week operation Allied Sky was conducted by NATO all over Europe. This is a typical operation where strategic bombers from USAF fly over the majority of European NATO members and the air force of each country is providing refuelling and escort services; the aim is to practice joint operations. This of course included Greece and Turkey. According to the Greek Ministry of Defence (in Greek), on Friday 28th of August during the hand over from Turkish air force to the Hellenic air force, the Turkish fighters refused to leave at the designated point (Turkey is disputing Greece’s air space since 1975) and were driven away by Greek fighters. While USA is keeping a middle ground for years as far as Greece and Turkey are concerned, I am sure it does not see kindly to USAF strategic assets being played to the benefit of others and by others; usually it is the other way around. Most likely there will not be any visible reprecaussions to Turkey but something will probably take place using back channels.

The B-52 NATO flight. (Image taken from https://www.ptisidiastima.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/B52-MT-15.jpg)

There was also another peculiar event that took place in 115 Combat Wing, Souda Bay on the 26th of August. An air detachment from the UAE arrived for joint training with Hellenic air force. This detachment included 3 F16s, 1 C-130 and 1 Airbus A332 MRTT for air refuelling and support. It also included 3 C-17 strategic transport aircraft, a very odd inclusion considering that the C-130 and the MRTT are more than enough to support 3 F-16s. These caused rumours to fly as Greece and the UAE share quite a few common weapon systems and ammunition. Greece announced on the 17th of August that it had signed a deal with UAE to purchase their stock of AH-64A Apache spare parts since UAE upgraded its fleet to the newer standard. Also, UAE has a stockpile of 600 Black Shaheen tactical strike missiles, the export version of the Scalp-EG Greece is using. No one is confirming what was in those C-17s – and for good reason – but all indications point to the fact that something was delivered.

Greece, effectivly having its armed forces on high alert for the past 30+ days realised the neglect caused by years of austerity and announced an emergency rearmament program valued at €3B. According to press reports in Greece, France is offering 18 Rafale fighters to replace the aging Mirage 2000s Greece has. Rumours have it that should Greece agree to the purchase France is ready to “hot transfer” part of the order from its own air force assets to assist Greece considering time is pressing. If this is true – note that France did the same with Mirage F1Cs ordered by Greece back in 1975 – it will indicate that France is de facto siding with Greece in this dispute with Turkey taking into account that not only Rafale is a generation newer than anything in current Greek inventory, it can also carry multiple Scalp-EG missiles instead of one which is the current limit of Mirge 2000-5s .Yes, Greek pilots and ground crews will need time to adapt to the new plane however current Mirage 2000-5s Greece has have the same computer as the Rafale plus can fire the same weapons, which already exist in Greece’s inventory. Truth be told, unless the US is willing to hot transfer F-16s and munitions there is no other way for Greece to increase its air capabilities in a few months instead of the typically couple of years the introduction of a new type requires.

Since the Hellenic navy is also in need to replace at a minimum its 9 aging firgates, a proposal was made to Greece regarding the availability of surplus Type-23 frigates from the UK. Recently UK is seriously downsizing its armed forces and the Royal Navy is no exception. Currently there are 16 Type-23s in service, with their age raging from 1990 to 2002 and the Royal Navy has a plan in place to upgrade some of the general-purpose Type-23s to ASW with new radar and sonar among other things. This is the sweetener in the proposal as Greece can opt to install the same upgrades should it purchase the ships – planned and tested upgrades are better than starting electromechanical and intergratin studies from scratch. The main factor is the cost; if one is to believe the numbers that are circulating Greece can purchase 4-5 of these ships and upgrade them with more or less the same cost of buing a couple of new frigates. True, the abilities will not be the same however the first Type-23 is scheduled to be mothballed in 2021; a new frigate will not arrive to Greece before 2024-2025. With 16 ships of the type in service with the Royal Navy there is room for negotiating the transfer of all to Greece as they are being replaced resulting in a steady stream of spare parts and components.

On the diplomatic front, the EU has scrambled to at least demonstrate that it can resolve a dispute and defend the rights of its member states however the results so far from the various meetings indicate a disagreement between North and South. France is the most vocal country against Turkey, so vocal in fact that Erdogan has characterised the leadership of France and Greece as greedy and incompetent. Greek government has announced its intention to expand its territorial waters to 12nm in the Ionian sea and south of Crete as a first step to which the Turkish government responded by repeating its threats that should Greece expand its territorial waters to 12nm in the Aegean sea it will be considered as casus belli. Germany, having the EU leadership at present announced an initiative to start a dialogue between the two countries in order to resolve the issue. Personally, I believe this has little chance of succeeding as dialogue implies good faith between the participants and certainly not threats of war.

In the meantime, both Greece and Turkey have issued Navtex notices for the East Med area, including notes of live fire exercises going well into September. Turkey also included areas north of Cyprus.

It appears that the tension in the area is not going away any time soon.

Another warm summer in East Med

August 15, 2020

Another warm summer in East Med

by Kakaouskia for the Saker Blog

Greetings to the Saker community and readers.

Summers tend to be warm in East Mediterranean and not just due to weather. This one is no exception with Greece and Turkey apparently determined to make a stand for what each perceives to be its waters and Exclusive Economic Zone.

Before I delve into the existing situation, I feel that some background information is required: about every 12-15 years or so tensions flare up between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean / East Med. Apart from the historical grievances certain parts of the population feel are important to correct, the main reason is the natural resources apparently present.

There was the war of 1974, between Cyprus and Turkey were Greek and Turkish army units actively fought each other.

Then there was the crisis of 1987 were Turkey declared that their research vessel Hora was to conduct research for hydrocarbons in the Aegean. The Greek government of the time deployed the fleet with orders to sink the Hora and in a major political coup made an agreement with Bulgaria (Warsaw pact still existed then) to provide military assistance in the event of a war with Turkey.

After that there was the Imia incident in 1996; again, fleets were deployed, special ops teams from each country took over some rocks and it almost blew into a war. You can see the pattern.

This time the theatre of operations is in the East Med, the area south east of Crete and Kastellorizo. For the first time not only are there confirmed gas and oil deposits, the political and economic landscape allows for the utilisation of said deposits. Thus, the focus of all countries in the region is there.

At first Turkey focused on Cyprus as it was the first country to ascertain claim of an EEZ and license drilling rights to French and Italian companies. Turkey hired a Norwegian crew to conduct hydrocarbon surveys in Cyprus’s EEZ; after Cyprus issued international arrest warrants for illegal activities the Norwegians withdrew, and Turkey changed strategy by deploying its own vessels with Turkish crews and always under naval escort.

Sidebar: Cyprus being a small country with an economy that cannot sustain a serious air force or navy recently announced that it has come into a defence agreement with France. The diplomatic language was deliberately vague; however, rumours have it that France will have a quasi-permanent naval presence in Cyprus. Moreover, according to the Cyprus ministry of Defence Cyprus ordered Exocet Blk3 anti-ship missiles and Mistral manpads from France in a deal worth €240M. The Exocet Blk3 has a range of ~200Km and a land attack capability, a first for Cyprus.

Then this year Turkey reached an agreement with the Libyan “government” that marked the EEZ zones of each country. The biggest problem with this agreement is that it not only encroaches into the Egyptian EEZ, it also completely ignores the presence of Greek islands and runs over them:

(image taken from https://www.internationalworldgroup.it/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/libya-turkey-eez.jpg)

Greece countered by making a similar agreement with Egypt that partially marks the EEZ of each country (the blue line on the unofficial map) and which is pending ratification from the respective parliaments. The area east of the 28E line has been left deliberately out of the negotiations as it requires an agreement between Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Egypt.

(image taken from https://thepressproject.gr/app/uploads/2020/08/aoz-hellas-egypt.jpg)

The proposed East Med pipeline is expected to pass from that are as well:

(image taken from https://mediadc.brightspotcdn.com/dims4/default/e52cf5e/2147483647/strip/true/crop/1265×875+0+0/resize/1265×875!/quality/90/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fmediadc.brightspotcdn.com%2F62%2Fb1%2Fde0f172244da817f79e083c1ed3c%2Fwell.v24-05.2018-10-08.Psaropoulos_Map.TWS.jpg)

Turkey reacted to the agreement by deploying the survey vessel Oruç Reis with an escort of 4 (out of the 6 active) Burak class light corvettes (former French D’Estienne d’Orves-class avisos) and F-247 TCG Kemalreis, a Meko 200 TN track II frigate. This force is of moderate strength; while Kemalreis is a relatively modern ship, the corvettes are more of a token force.

(image taken from https://www.ptisidiastima.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/orus-reis-and-escort.jpeg)

Oruç Reis escorted by Turkish navy. Note that this formation is for the photo shoot; it is impossible to conduct hydrocarbon surveys like this.

Greece deployed part of its fleet to monitor the situation and cancelled the leave of military personnel. This resulted in a collision incident between F-451 Limnos (S class frigate) and F-247 TCG Kemalreis. Both countries claim their vessel damaged the other and both released images / videos to show that their respective ship remains operational.

Video supposedly showing Kemalreis after the collision with Limnos:

(image taken from https://www.ptisidiastima.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/FRGR138-2.png)

Limnos after the collision with Kemalreis. The lack of any “unofficial” videos of the collision so far is notable and says something about the information controls in place on both sides. In any case the truth, or at least solid indicators as to what really transpired will be revealed once both ships return to port.

The story of Greece has more credibility though as the image is guaranteed to have been taken after the event and in the present of witnesses; the day after the collision Greece and France conducted a joint naval exercise involving the following ships:

F-453 Spetsai (Meko 200 HN frigate)

F-451 Limnos (S class frigate)

F-460 Aigaion (S class frigate)

F-462 Kountouriotis (S class frigate)

FS La Fayette (La Fayette class frigate)

FS Tonnerre (Mistral class amphibious assault helicopter carrier)

Two French Rafale planes also participated in the drills and they used the facilities of 115 Combat Wing, Souda Bay.

Video of the Greek – French flotilla during the drills: https://youtu.be/gdojh9hWDoA

Based on the available open-source information, it is evident that Greece deployed a more substantial naval force to counter the Turkish threat. From a military point of view Turkey has the tactical advantage as the theatre of operations is closer to its shores and it can deploy additional forces faster if need be. Moreover, Greece cannot afford to risk the safety of the myriad of populated islands some of which are located closer to Turkey (one can say swimming distance).

Map roughly depicting the area of operations and distance from Attalya in Turkey and Souda Bay in Greece.

Greece is at a disadvantage as it is forced to react to Turkey’s movements. An EEZ is not equal to the territorial waters of a country; ships, even military ones, have the right of unopposed transit provided they do not engage in military / economic activities. Greece has no legal right to block the movements of the Turkish flotilla; it will have such a right if Oruç Reis starts conducting a survey. Even then, the acceptable process is to ask the ship to stop such activity and if it does not comply then board and arrest the captain. Oruç Reis is still a civilian vessel and one does not fire on unarmed civilian vessels.

Turkey on the other hand aims to demonstrate that Greece, claim or no claim over those waters cannot protect them effectively thus discouraging big oil from signing exploration / drilling contracts with Greece. A similar tactic was used against the French navy outside Libya during EU operation Irini. A French vessel tried to inspect a freighter suspected of carrying arms in violation of the embargo, only to be prevented by a passing (read escort) Turkish navy vessel that responded to the freighter’s captain request for help. In that case a few days after France complained and Turkey ignored them, unknown aircraft attacked the Libyan air base Turkey was using.

Militarily Greece and Turkey are practically equal. Turkey has an advantage in the form of air refuelling aircraft which allow its fighters to operate for longer periods of time in theatre and carry more weapons. Additionally the Turkish frigate force has 8 modernised Oliver Hazard Perry (OHP) class frigates which provide air cover to the fleet utilising Standard SM1-MR missiles. While the missiles themselves are considered obsolete and have been withdrawn from USN service, the Greek navy does not have such capability and relies on the protection of the Greek air force.

Greece on the other hand has the advantage given by the Mirage 2000 and Mirage 2000-5Mk2 aircraft bought from France. Unlike the US which has denied weapon sales to Greece in the past in order “not to shift the balance of power” France has provided Greece with ~100 Scalp EG cruise missiles for use by the M2000-5 aircraft giving the Greek air force sub-strategic strike capabilities as the export version has a range of 560Km. This is one of the reasons Turkey decided to purchase the S400 SAM complexes. Greece also invested heavily on the Exocet anti-ship missile in all its forms (air, ship and surface launched variants). The older M2000 aircraft of Greece can carry 2 such missiles each making them effective ship hunters over the Aegean. The surface launchers are mobile and can be placed on any island creating access denial areas.

Greek Mirage armed with Scalp cruise missile, courtesy of Hellenic Air Force:

Both countries have a similarly sized submarine fleet; Turkey with 12 subs (German Type 209 variants) and Greece with 11 (German Type 209 and Type 214 variants). Greece has a quality advantage here for the time being as 5 out of the 11 subs are equipped with air-independent propulsion systems and 4 of those being of the newer Type 214.

Sidebar: It is safe to assume that both countries have deployed at least part of their submarine force; the location and actions of said force will be very well hidden unlike surface combatants.

Notably Turkey did not deploy any of its OHP frigates in the East Med area; most likely they act as submarine hunters in the Aegean and as a missile shield for important installations / formations. As the operational status of the S400 complexes is not known, Turkey has no other long-range SAM option; the MIM-23 Hawk system is practically obsolete as recent events in Libya showed.

The militaries of both countries are plagued by problems. Turkey is facing financial difficulties; the officer corps suffered a blow from the purges after the failed coup against Erdogan that as word has it has not yet recovered from; the active involvement in Syria and Libya is occupying resources that cannot be used in the Aegean. The chart below compares the Turkish Lira with USD over the past 5 years. The seriousness of the problem is evident:

(chart from https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=TRY&view=5Y)

Turkey has poured a considerable sum of money into its defence industry, sometimes to the detriment of other areas of the economy. These investments have yielded products that however remain largely used only by Turkey thus any claims for their effectiveness remain to be proven.

For Greece, the years of being under IMF and EU monetary supervision have had their toll. Effectively Greece allocates €500 million per year for armaments; an amount that is inadequate. Recently negotiations between France and Greece for the purchase of Belhara class frigates have broken down due to cost. Moreover, in recent years the purchase and modernization choices for the Greek armed forces have been bizarre to put it mildly. It is said that major equipment is suffering from availability issues due to lack of spare parts and that even the newest Type 214 subs still operate with incredibly old torpedoes that partially negate the advantages of the platform. Also after a series of corruption scandals involving past ministers of defence that concluded in jail terms, the Greek parliament enacted an anti-corruption law aimed at defence procurement that makes it virtually impossible to sign any such contract, even a simple contract for spare parts from the sole manufacturer on the planet.

For now, the game of cat and mouse in East Med continues. Oruç Reis is practically bait Turkey is using to lure Greece into opening fire first. Greece is keeping its distance monitoring for any movement against an island. Neither country really wants to start a war, or at least to be viewed as being the one which started it. Whatever the case militaries cannot be constantly deployed; attrition, both material and of personnel is a fact of life and at some point, something will give.

EGYPT AND FRANCE CARRY OUT NAVAL DRILL AS SHOW OF FORCE TO TURKEY

Source

Egypt and France Carry Out Naval Drill As Show Of Force To Turkey

On July 25th, the Egyptian and French Navies held naval drills in the eastern Mediterranean, with the participation of the Egyptian Ghost frigate and French Ghost frigate (ACONIT).

In a statement, the Egyptian Armed Forces reported the following:

“The exercises included many training activities that focus on methods of organizing cooperation in the implementation of combat missions in the sea against hostile marine formations with the actual use of weapons in engagement with surface and air targets in addition to the implementation of confrontational battles, with the use of aircraft.”

The statement further said:

“The training showed the professionalism of the crews of ships in carrying out combat missions with accuracy and high efficiency, with a focus on common coordination points between all the common elements.”

It added that “these drills come in the framework of supporting the pillars of joint cooperation between the Egyptian and French armed forces, and identifying the latest fighting systems and methods in a manner that contributes to honing skills and combat and operational experiences and supporting efforts of maritime security, stability and peace in the Mediterranean.”

This is a show of force at a time when Egypt and France, alongside Greece and Cyprus are opposed to Turkey over its interference in Libya, but mostly due to the agreement it signed with Libya’s Government of National Accord.

The agreement allows Turkey to extract resources from Libya’s EEZ in the Mediterranean Sea.

In the face of the actions of Turkey, France and Egypt had a recent rethinking of their relations, which have apparently grown closer in the face of a “common enemy.”

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

RIPPLE EFFECTS: GREECE AND TURKEY OPEN NEW NORTHERN FRONT ON LIBYAN CONFLICT

Source

 25.07.2020 

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Greece’s navy has declared a state of heightened alert and deployed ships to the Aegean Sea in response to a Turkish vessel conducting seismic surveys for energy exploration purposes close to a disputed maritime area.

On Tuesday the Greek foreign ministry issued a formal protest to Turkey following the announcement that a Turkish drilling ship would conduct explorations in the maritime area south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo in the south eastern Aegean. The foreign ministry also released a statement:

We call on Turkey to immediately cease its illegal activities, which violate our sovereign rights and undermine peace and security in the region.”

Following Turkey’s rejection of the protest, the Greek Navy has sent ships to patrol in the area.

“Navy units have been deployed since yesterday in the south and southeastern Aegean,” a navy source told AFP, declining to give further details.

Athens has stated that Turkish surveys in sections of the Greek continental shelf constitute an escalation of the tension in the region where the two countries dispute the boundary of their respective maritime areas. LINK

Experts cited in media reports have interpreted Turkey’s conduct as designed to test Greece’s determination to defend its interests in the eastern Mediterranean region, and believe that the Turkish leadership’s moves may also be linked to the Libyan conflict. According to this interpretation of the latest developments, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apparently seeks to “test” the reaction of his opponents. LINK

A report in Xinhua suggests that Greece’s response is to draw even closer to Egypt. Greece and Egypt have been holding negotiations over the demarcation of an exclusive economic zone in the eastern Mediterranean, however the boundaries of the area they are discussing overlaps with the area which was subject to a maritime agreement signed by Turkey and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord in Libya late last year (the two parties also signed a military agreement pursuant to which Turkey has sent thousands of fighters and a large amount of weapons and supplies to the Government of National Accord).

Ripple Effects: Greece And Turkey Open New Northern Front On Libyan Conflict

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi received a phone call from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday, during which they discussed regional issues, with a focus on the Libyan crisis.

According to the Xinhua report, Sisi expressed Egypt’s opposition to “illegitimate foreign intervention” in Libyan domestic affairs, citing that they would further exacerbate the security conditions in Libya in a way that affects the stability of the entire region, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.

For his part, the Greek prime minister also voiced rejection of foreign interference in Libya, while highlighting the political course as a key solution for the Libyan issue.

He hailed Egypt’s “sincere efforts” that seek a peaceful settlement to the Libyan crisis, according to the statement.

Over the past few years, the Egyptian-Greek ties have been growing closer, with their growing enmity with Turkey also resulting in them developing a similar position on Libya. The talks between Sisi and Mitsotakis took place just a few days after the Egyptian parliament approved a possible troop deployment in Libya to defend Egypt’s western borders with the war-torn country. LINK

A perceptive analysis of the emerging Turkey-Libya (Tripoli) relations published last month remains just as salient to describe the situation today:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gambled big in Libya and won big – so far. This victory portends important changes in the politics of the Mediterranean, for Turkey has succeeded not only in demonstrating its determination to become the dominant player in the Eastern Mediterranean, but also in showcasing its military prowess and wherewithal. The latter might precipitate a deeper conflict and crisis in the region, extending north toward Greece.

Erdogan threw his support behind the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) against General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), which had besieged the GNA’s capital, Tripoli. Haftar suffered a humiliating defeat as Turkish drones, troops, navy vessels and some 10,000 Syrian fighters transported by Ankara to Libya stopped him in his tracks and then forced him to abandon bases and territory. A last-minute call for a ceasefire by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi was rejected by the victorious GNA, which has set its aims at capturing other towns, including the critical port city of Sirte.

Indirectly, this was also a defeat for the countries that had backed Haftar: Egypt, the UAE and Russia. The UAE had contributed military equipment and the Russians non-state mercenary forces.

Turkey’s Libya expedition has to be seen from two perspectives. First, the GNA concluded a deal with Ankara that delineated their respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in such a way that it divides the Mediterranean Sea into two sections. Turkey’s purpose is to hinder efforts by Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Greece to export natural gas, either through a pipeline or on LNG vessels, to Europe. Turkey has aggressively interfered with efforts by these to drill for gas. Ankara claims that most of the waters around Cyprus actually belong to Turkey or to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a country recognized only by Turkey.

However, more important than simply preventing Eastern Mediterranean gas exports is the underlying strategy driving this push against Haftar. From the moment he assumed power in 2003, Erdogan has striven to elevate Turkey’s international role to that of a regional, if not global, power. Initially, his strategy was one of “zero problems with neighbors,” which served to emphasize Turkey’s soft power. The primary driver, however, was the desire for Turkey to assume a hegemonic position over the Middle East. This policy foundered and was essentially buried by the Arab Spring.

What has replaced it is a more aggressive and militarized posture that takes the fight to perceived enemies. That could mean anyone and everyone, since Turks tend to see most countries as a threat, even if they are allies. LINK

While Turkey has bet big and won big so far, it appears that the period of relatively easy victories is over and its aggressive moves are going to face more resistance in future. As Turkey continues to shows no sign of moderating its expansionist claims and manoeuvres, the region is now moving irrevocably towards a catastrophic military clash as Turkey and Egypt have drawn incompatible ‘red lines’ in Libya, with the coastal town of Sirte likely to be the detonator (or possibly the Jufra airbase to the south).

An international agreement promoted by the UN in 2014-2015 established an executive body and a legislative body to govern Libya and pave the way for a more permanent arrangement. However, fundamental disagreements between the two quasi-State organizations resulted in a complete split, with the executive arm becoming the ‘UN-backed’ Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and the House of Representatives relocating to Tobruk (thus the legislative arm is also ‘UN-backed’, though this detail is usually omitted from mainstream media reports).

Turkey has allied itself with the Government of National Accord (GNA), Egypt has allied itself with the House of Representatives (and its armed forces, the Libyan National Army – the LNA – headed by Khalifa Haftar). More generally, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are invariably reported as supporting the LNA, while the GNA is mainly backed by Turkey and Qatar.

Following the drastic changes on the battlefield over the last two months as the GNA swept the LNA from its positions around Tripoli following a failed attempt to capture the Libyan capital, both Turkey and Egypt have committed themselves to positions that are in direct conflict, indicating that a major armed clash is inevitable unless there is a major diplomatic breakthrough or one of the two sides accepts a humiliating backdown.

Specifically, Turkey and the Government of National Accord are demanding that the Libyan National Army (which recently gave Egypt permission to send its armed forces into Libya) withdraw from the two areas (Sirte and Jufra) and have expressed their determination to take the areas by force if necessary. The Libyan National Army and Egypt have stated that any attempt to capture the two areas will result in Egypt entering Libya in force, which would result in a direct confrontation between Turkey and Egypt. While Egypt has the advantage of sharing a long land border with Libya, in the event of a major conflict air and maritime power could be decisive.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Time is Not on Our Side in Libya

Photograph Source: Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni – CC BY-SA 3.0

by VIJAY PRASHAD

JULY 22, 2020

Ahmed, who lives in Tripoli, Libya, texts me that the city is quieter than before. The army of General Khalifa Haftar—who controls large parts of eastern Libya—has withdrawn from the southern part of the capital and is now holding fast in the city of Sirte and at the airbase of Jufra. Most of Libya’s population lives along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, which is where the cities of Tripoli, Sirte, Benghazi, and Tobruk are located.

Haftar, who was once an intimate of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is now prosecuting a seemingly endless and brutal war against the United Nation’s recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and led by President Fayez al-Sarraj. To make matters more confusing, Haftar takes his legitimacy from another government, which is based in Tobruk, and is formed out of the House of Representatives (HOR).

Ahmed says that the quiet is deceitful. Militias continue to patrol the streets along the Salah al-Din Road near where he lives; the rattle of gunfire is anticipated.

On July 8, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made a statement that could have been delivered at any point over the last decade. “Time is not on our side in Libya,” he announced. He laid out a range of problems facing the country, including the military conflict, the political stalemate between the GNA and the HOR, the numbers of internally-displaced people (400,000 out of 7 million), the continued attempts of migrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea, the threat from COVID-19, and the “unprecedented levels” of “foreign interference.”

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to send a Fact-Finding Mission to Libya to investigate human rights violations in this war, including the mass graves found in Tarhouna. The credibility of the Council is in doubt. An earlier Commission of Inquiry on Libya set up in 2012 to study war crimes in 2011-2012 was shut down largely because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to cooperate with the investigation. A second inquiry, set up in March 2015, closed its work in January 2016 with the political deal that created the Government of National Accord.

Guterres did not mention the NATO war in 2011. I am told that he wants to appoint a joint Special Representative with the African Union and he would like a full review of the UN mission. All that is well and good; but it is short of what is necessary: an honest look at the NATO war that broke the country, fomenting a conflict that seems without end.

Foreign Interference

Statements about Libya drip with evasion. These terms—“foreign interference” and “foreign-backed efforts”—are dropped into conversations and official statements without any clarification. But everyone knows what is going on.

I ask Rida, who lives in Benghazi (now under the control of General Haftar), what she makes of these phrases. “We all know what is going on,” she tells me via text. “The government in Tripoli is backed by Turkey and others; while Haftar is backed by Egypt and others,” she writes.

At the core, she says, this is a dispute between two regional powers (Turkey and Egypt) as well as a contest between the Muslim Brotherhood (Turkey) and its adversaries (Egypt and the United Arab Emirates). Wrapped up in all this are contracts for offshore drilling in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, which additionally involved Cyprus and Greece.

It is not enough that this is a regional conflict. There is accumulating evidence that General Haftar is being supported by armed mercenaries (from Russia and Sudan) and by arms shipments from France, while the United States seems to have hedged its bets with support to both sides in the conflict.

Last year, General Haftar’s forces moved swiftly toward Tripoli, but were eventually rebuffed by the intervention of Turkey (which provided the Tripoli government with military aid as well as Syrian and Turkish mercenaries).

In late December, Turkey formally signed a military and security agreement with the Tripoli-based GNA, which enabled Turkey to transfer military hardware. This agreement broke the terms of the UN resolution 2292 (2016), recently reaffirmed in UN resolution 2526 (2020). Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have openly been supplying Haftar.

Now, the forces of the Tripoli government have moved to the central coastline city of Sirte, which has emerged as the key hotspot in this contest.

The Tobruk government, which backs General Haftar, and a pro-Haftar tribes council urged Egypt’s General Abdul Fatah El Sisi to intervene with the full force of the Egyptian armed forces if Sirte falls to the Turkish-backed government. Egypt’s military drill—called Hasm 2020—came alongside the Turkish navy’s announcement of maneuvers off the Libyan coast—called Navtex.

This is a most dangerous situation, a war of words escalating between Turkey and Egypt; Egypt has now moved military hardware to its border with Libya.

Oil

Of course, oil is a major part of the equation. Libya has at least 46 billion barrels of sweet crude oil; this oil is highly valued for Europe because of the low costs to extract and transport it. Countries like the UAE, which are pushing the embargo of Libyan oil, benefit from the withdrawal of Libya, Iranian, and Venezuelan oil from already suppressed world oil markets. Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) has stopped oil exports since January; from about 1.10 million barrels per day, Libyan oil production fell to nearly 70,000 barrels per day.

Neither Haftar nor the Government of National Accord in Tripoli can agree on the export of oil from the country. Oil has not left the country for the better part of the past six months, with a loss—according to the NOC—of about US$6.74 billion. General Haftar controls major oil ports in the east, including Es Sider, and several key oil fields, including Sharara.

Neither side wants the other to profit from oil sales. The United Nations has intervened to try and resolve the differences, but so far there has been limited progress. The entire conflict rests on the belief that either side has that it could win a military victory and therefore take the entire spoils; no one is willing to compromise, since any such agreement would mean a de jure partition of the country into its eastern and western halves with the oil crescent divided between the two.

Demilitarized Zone

UN Secretary-General Guterres has surrendered to reality. In his recent statement on Libya, he listed a series of “de-escalation efforts, including the creation of a possible demilitarized zone”; this “demilitarization zone” would likely be drawn somewhere near Sirte. It would effectively divide Libya into two parts.

Neither Ahmed nor Rida would like their country to be partitioned, its oil then siphoned off to Europe, and its wealth stolen by oligarchs on either side. They had misgivings about Muammar Qaddafi’s government in early 2011; but now both regret the war that has ripped their country to shreds.Join the debate on FacebookMore articles by:VIJAY PRASHAD

Vijay Prashad’s most recent book is No Free Left: The Futures of Indian Communism (New Delhi: LeftWord Books, 2015).

Russian Navy showcases its military might in large-scale drills off Syrian coast: video

Source

News Desk -2020-07-250

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:50 A.M.) – The Russian Navy carried out large-scale drills off the coast of Syria’s Tartous Governorate this week, showcasing their military capabilities in the eastern Mediterranean region amid increased tensions between several nations.

According to Sputnik Arabic, the Syrian coastal region witnessed the qualitative training of the Russian Navy, as they used their warships, military choppers and combat aircraft to simulate the effectiveness of their forces in battle.

Sputnik filmed the naval drills from the coastal governorate of Tartous this week, which is where the Russian Navy is currently based in the eastern Mediterranean.

The publication reported the use of the advanced Raptor waterboats, which are classified among the fastest military boats in the Russian fleet, as they are able to sail at speeds of up to 50 knots, and to carry out various missions in the coast guard teams such as surveillance, and guard missions and rescue missions.

In addition to the training of the Raptor, large marine vessels, including the “Krasnodar” submarine and a missile cruiser, also took part in the military drills.

These Russian naval exercises come at a time of increased friction in the eastern Mediterranean, as Turkey’s role in Libya and their offshore drilling agitates Egypt, Cyprus, and Greece.

The Pendulum Swings Again: the Desecration of Hagia Sophia

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The Pendulum Swings Again: the Desecration of Hagia Sophia ...

Stephen Karganovic

July 18, 2020

The Turkish President should have consulted the prophecies of St. Paisius of the Holy Mountain rather than whatever kitaps he was reading before embarking on his risky provocation. In plain Greek, several decades ago St. Paisius was educating Turkish leaders about the sequence of events that the reconversion of Hagia Sophia would set in motion: “When the cathedral of Hagia Sophia is turned into a mosque, Turkey will disintegrate”. He also added reassuringly, for the benefit of his audience, that “I will not see that happen, but you will.” The saint left us for better pastures in 1994. As a footnote to his vision, he also noted that in the ensuing turmoil Constantinople would remain under Russian control for some time before again being returned to Greece. When and if that happens, it does not exactly sound from the tenor of his prophesy that it will revert to just being a museum.

If Mr Erdogan was so keen on tinkering with the status of this major Orthodox holy place, instead of pursuing short-sighted electoral advantage in a state presumably without a future, he should have done better had he chosen – as Americans are fond of saying –to be on the right side of history. He could have done that simply by returning the temple to the religious community which erected it and to which it rightfully belongs.

But, of course, it would be fatuous to expect from a mere politician with declining ratings a gesture of such dazzling magnanimity.

Hagia Sophia was built and consecrated as an Orthodox place of worship in the 6th century by the Eastern Roman Emperor Justinian I. It is a structure of great architectural beauty and even greater symbolic value for world Orthodoxy, as its prime cathedral. Upon the conquest of Constantinople and demise of the Byzantine empire in 1453, it was turned into a mosque by the commander of the conquering army, sultan Mehmed II, and functioned in that capacity until 1934, when the reformist President of the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk, made it a museum. The magnificent structure is under the protection of UNESCO (for whatever that is worth) and is the most visited historical site in Turkey.

What is the significance of the second forced reconversion of the Orthodox cathedral of Hagia Sophia into a mosque? It has to do entirely with internal Turkish politics. It is part of a larger design of the current rulers to reconfigure Turkey back from a secular republic to a resurgent neo-Ottoman state, reinforced with a strong religious identity. Given that the local economy is in poor shape and that the government’s foreign policy initiatives have been generally unsuccessful across the board, descending to religious demagoguery is a more or less natural and predictable recourse. For Orthodox Christians and, hopefully, civilized people of all backgrounds this crude reassertion of the right of conquest, targeting not material goods suitable for pillage, but the spiritual patrimony of one of the great world religious traditions, is nothing short of an act which constitutes the fusion of vandalism and blasphemy.

Of course, it could also be said with some justice, this issue is larger than Erdogan and will outlive him. It is clothed in the garb of a regular court order invalidating Ataturk’s earlier decree, and it was confirmed by a cabinet decision after a meeting lasting all of 17 minutes. As far as provocations go, it could also be argued that in terms of bellicosity it is far less dangerous than shooting down a Russian fighter jet in Syria. Also, as worldly logic might have it, the Hagia Sophia ceased to function as a consecrated church and has not served as consecrated Orthodox Cathedral for more than 550 years. Even before the Ottomans arrived it was ransacked and desecrated during the Western Fourth Crusade, and was then turned into a Roman Catholic cathedral during the Latin occupation of the city. Its history has been long and harsh. A friend of mine has argued that “frankly at least as a mosque it will serve as place of worship and fulfil a spiritual and religious function and not be a tourist attraction, which is a greater desecration, literally speaking.”

“Buildings are buildings,” he has asserted, “they are monuments to faith but no substitute for living faith or a living church which is the Body of Christ. [In the large sense, he does have a point there.] This will only happen when Hagia Sophia is reconsecrated, Orthodox Liturgy is held, the sacred mysteries enacted, and of course when the Eucharist is served once again.”

All these, arguably, are good points. But they miss the emotions this symbolically charged act (going to its core, beyond short-term and short-sighted electoral consideration) evokes among the Balkan Orthodox who still have vivid collective memories of Ottomanism (never mind its neo- variety that is being reinvented today). Nor do they fully take into account the emotions of the Russian Orthodox believers whose faith goes back, in a direct historical line, to that very spot in Constantinople where Vladimir’s bedazzled emissaries, while observing the religious services and magnificent decorations, wondered whether they were on earth or in heaven.

So besides the purely practical and realpolitik aspects to this, there is also a much deeper dimension that challenges Orthodoxy to its core. Its chief representative in Constantinople, the “Ecumenical Patriarch” with a plethora of impressive titles but hardly any flock, a man who few would be so naïve as to regard as a designated vessel of the Holy Spirit, but who certainly is an agent and close collaborator of Western intelligence services to whom he owes his precarious position in an increasingly hostile environment, has been resoundingly silent. Shockingly, Patriarch Bartholomew has been hiding in his Fanar rabbit hole while controversy over what should be his main cathedral has been raging all around him. He is more concerned, one imagines, about avoiding a potential indictment for involvement in the Turkish coup attempt several years ago than in reclaiming the jewel of his ecclesiastical heritage or at least protesting for the record its renewed desecration. The setting up of a false and heretical “church” in the Ukraine under his patronage was apparently a matter he thought more pressing and deserving of his public attention that an outrage to his communion being perpetrated literally in his back yard.

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia to Be Reopened as Mosque after Court Decision

Turkey’s Hagia Sophia to Be Reopened as Mosque after Court Decision

By Staff, Agencies

A top Turkish court on Friday revoked the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque, the official Anadolu news agency reported.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the court’s decision and announced that the site would be handed over to Turkey’s religious affairs directorate and reopened for Muslim worshipping.

Erdogan’s announcement comes shortly after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque.

The Council of State, which was debating a case brought by a Turkish NGO, canceled a 1934 cabinet decision and ruled the site would be reopened to Muslim worshipping.

Earlier on Friday, UNESCO warned Turkey against converting the Hagia Sophia museum, a World Heritage site, in Istanbul into a mosque, urging dialogue before any decision is taken.

Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire in 537 AD but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Turning it into a museum was a key reform of the post-Ottoman authorities under the modern republic’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Calls for it to serve again as a mosque has sparked anger among Christians and tensions between the historic foes and uneasy NATO allies Turkey and Greece. Russia, which has become an increasingly important partner of Turkey in recent years, has also urged against altering its status.

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TURKEY ABUSES MIGRANTS AND BLAMES IT ON GREECE

South Front

Turkey Abuses Migrants And Blames It On Greece

On June 19th, Turkey rescued 56 illegal migrants off Turkey’s Aegean coast, the state-run Anadolu agency reported.

Turkish teams rescued the migrants in a rubber boat near the Dikili district of Turkey’s western province of Izmir, the agency said.

Turkey accused Greece coast guard of pushing the back to Turkey.

In 2020 so far, a total of 11,076 migrants attempted to reach Greece via Turkey’s seas, slightly down from 11,710 over the same period in 2019, according to the latest figures released by the Turkish coast guard.

Alongside these accusations, Anadolu Agency also published alleged photographs showing asylum seekers stranded on the streets of Athens.

They were expelled from the Moria Camp on Lesbos Island in Greece after being granted asylum.

The group seeking shelter at Victoria Square, a public park in the capital, comprises of 66 people, including four pregnant women and children.

“They told us we have to leave Moria Camp. They said: ‘Go to Athens, finish your paper work and go wherever you want after that’,” a refugee said.

“I don’t get that. We are refugees. They officially left us here. Imagine that you came to Afghanistan and did not speak the language. And nobody guides you. How would you feel?” said another refugee who spent the night in the street.

A very emotion-filled video was also published of drone footage of migrants flocking the Turkey-Greece border.

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The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

The ominous Jihadis war; From Tripoli to Tripoli:

May 23, 2020

By Ghassan Kadi for the Saker Blog

The ‘War on Syria’ is far from being over, and it will continue until all foreign forces illegally present on Syrian soil retreat; either willingly, or defeated.

And even though the American presence in Syria has no clear and realistic political purpose other than wreaking havoc. https://transnational.live/2020/05/19/america-exists-today-to-make-war-how-else-do-we-interpret/ and making it hard for Russia to help reach a decisive victory, in a twist of fate, the focus of the Russo-American conflict in the region may soon move away from Syria.

In reality, the outcome of the ‘War on Syria’ was never expected by the initial assembly of adversaries when they launched the attack. Furthermore, they had many deep differences and nothing in common other than a shared hatred for Syria, but the unexpected turn of events has intensified their internal conflict and seemingly catapulted the strife between those former allies much further afield to a new hub in Libya.

Whilst the world and its media are busy with COVID-19, a new huge struggle is brewing, and this time, it is drawing new lines and objectives that are in reality going to be fueled, financed and executed by the former once-united enemies of Syria; but this time, it will be against each other.

An array of regional and international issues lies behind the impending conflict; and to call it impending is an under-statement. It is already underway, but hasn’t reached its peak yet, let alone making any significant news coverage.

It is a real mess in Libya now, and the short version of a long story goes like this:

Soon after NATO hijacked the UNSC mandate to enforce a no-fly-zone decision over Libya and manipulated it in a manner that ‘legalised’ bombing Libya culminating in toppling and killing Gadhafi, the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the formal capital Tripoli on the Western side of the coast, was created.

But the ‘revolution’ against Gadhafi was launched in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi. After Gadhafi’s demise, another interim government was formed in Libya’s east under the name of National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC, whose flag is the flag of the ‘revolution’, did not recognize the GNA and regarded it as a Western lackey.

After a few years of squabbling, NTC strongman General Haftar decided to militarily disable the GNA.

With little concrete protection on the ground from the West, and under the guise of upholding UNSC mandates, Erdogan jumped into the existing void and the opportunity to grab Libya’s oil, and decided to send troops to support the GNA.  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51003034

In return, Haftar is getting support from other regional players. Recently, representatives from Egypt, the UAE, Greece, Cyprus and France had a meeting and denounced Turkey’s involvement in Libya. https://greekcitytimes.com/2020/05/12/greece-egypt-cyprus-france-uae-denounce-turkey-in-joint-statement/. Erdogan perhaps borrowed a term from his American part-ally-part-adversary and referred to the meeting and its decree as an ‘alliance of evil’. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/turkey-accuses-five-nations-of-forming-alliance-of-evil/2020/05/12/a3c5c63a-9438-11ea-87a3-22d324235636_story.html Fancy this, a NATO member accusing other NATO members of being in an alliance of evil.

It must be noted that even though Saudi Arabia did not attend the meeting, it was there in spirit, and represented by its proxy-partner the UAE.

The USA took a step further and accused Russia and Syria of working behind the scenes and planning to send fighters to Libya to support Haftar. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security-usa-syria-idUSKBN22J301

But this article is not about the geopolitical hoo-ha. It is about shedding a light on what score-settling is expected to eventuate in Libya, and who is likely to end up doing the fighting against who.

Even though the Afghani Mujahedeen were purportedly the first Jihadi fighters to engage in battle in the 20th Century, their fight was against foreign USSR troops. In terms of an internal force that aimed for fundamentalist Muslim rule, there is little doubt that the first event of such insurgency in the Middle East was the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) revolt that took place in Syria in the early 1980’s and which was quashed by the then President, Hafez Assad. After their smashing defeat, the fundamentalists kept their heads low until they lit the flame again in the Palestinian refugee Naher Al-Bared Camp at the northern outskirts of Tripoli Lebanon in 2007.

There are, for those who are unaware, two cities bearing the name Tripoli on the Mediterranean coast; one is in Northern Lebanon, and it is Lebanon’s second largest city, and the other Tripoli is located on the Western side of the Libyan Coast. They are sometimes called Tripoli of the East and Tripoli of the West, respectively.

Shaker Al-Absi, leader of Fateh Al Islam, a Salafist terror organization, declared jihad and engaged in a bitter fight against the Lebanese Army. He was defeated, remained at large, but any look at Lebanon’s Tripoli after his demise displayed a clear evidence of a huge build-up of Salafist presence in the city.

When the ‘War on Syria’ started only four years later, Tripoli became a major hub for the transport of fighters and munitions from Lebanon into Syria. Nearly a decade later, and with a few Jihadi pockets left in the Idlib province now, their defeat in Syria is imminent.

But who exactly are those murderous head-chopping radical elements that we talking about; past and present?

When the coalition that started the attack on Syria took form, it was comprised virtually of all of Syria’s enemies. Most of them were religious fundamentalists. In an early article, I called them ‘The Anti-Syrian Cocktail’.  https://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-anti-syrian-cocktail-by-ghassan-kadi.html

Back then, ISIS, did not exist in the form that it became known as. Furthermore, I have always advocated that there was no difference at all between Al-Nusra and ISIS and/or any other Takfiri organizations. They are all terror-based and founded on violent readings of Islam.

In time however, and this didn’t take long, it became apparent that even though the ideologies were identical, there were two major financiers and facilitators to those many different terror organizations. One was primarily funded by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the other by Qatar and facilitated by Turkey.

The former group is affiliated with what is known as Saudi Wahhabi Islam. They are also known as the Salafists. The latter group are the MB’s.

As the war was shifting in favour of Syria, their agendas diverged, the schism grew deeper and strong rivalries emerged; especially as the Wahhabis and their sponsors were sent home defeated. Part of this fallout was the ongoing Saudi-Qatari conflict.

But the rivalry that is least spoken about is personal. It is the one between Erdogan and Al-Saud.

They are both fighting over the leadership of fundamentalist Sunni Islam. But Erdogan also has his nationalist anti-Kurdish agenda, and of course, he is desperate to put his hands on oil supplies that he can call his own. He cannot find oil on Turkish soil or in Turkish waters, but he is prepared to act as a regional pirate and a thug and steal another nation’s oil. If no one is to stop him, he feels that he can and will.

Upon realizing that Turkey could not get in Syria either victory or oil, Erdogan is now turning his face west towards Libya. He finds in Libya a few scores that he hopes to settle after his failure in Syria. He wants a face-saving military victory, he wants to assert his position as THE Sunni leader who can reclaim glory, and he wants free oil. Last but not least, In Libya, he will find himself close to Egypt’s Sisi; the political/religious enemy who toppled his MB friend and ally, President Mursi.

On the other side, defeated but not totally out, Saudi Arabia wants blood; Erdogan’s blood.

The Saudis blame Erdogan (and Qatar) for their loss in Syria because he was more focused on his own agenda and spoils rather than the combined ones of the former alliance they had with him. They blame him for abandoning them and making deals with Russia. They hold him responsible for the breakup of the unity of Muslim fundamentalism. They fear his aspirations for gaining the hearts and minds of Muslims who regard him as a de-facto Caliph. As a matter of fact, it was Saudi Crown Prince MBS who used the borrowed word ‘evil’ first when he stated more than two years ago that Erdogan was a part of a ‘Triangle of Evil’. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-turkey-idUSKCN1GJ1WW. And how can we forget the Khashoggi debacle and the ensuing standoff between Turkey and Saudi Arabia?

We must stop and remember once again that not long ago at all, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were allies, who together, plotted how to invade Syria and bring her down to her knees. These are the heads of the two major countries that facilitated the war machine with Saudi money injecting fighters and munitions into Syria from the south, and open Turkish borders and Qatari money injecting them from the north.

Back to Libyan General Haftar. In his westerly advance along Libya’s terrain, he cleaned up the ISIS elements who stood in his way and hindered his progress.  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/02/libya-foreign-powers-khalifa-haftar-emirates-russia-us But ironically, he is now fighting their religious rival; the Turks, the protectors of the MB’s.

The USA may accuse Syria of sending troops into Libya, but where is the proof and why should Syria do this after all? And even though the Saudis and the Emiratis are warming up relationships with Syria, the Syrian Army is still engaged in battle and is not prepared to go and fight in Libya. There is nothing for it to gain. Once the war is over, Syria will be concerned with rebuilding a war-torn nation. Syria has no interests in Libya; none what-so-ever.

The role of Russia is not very clear on the ground even though there are clear indications that Russia supports Haftar ideologically. The support began when Haftar demonstrated to the Russians that he was adamant about fighting ISIS and exterminating its presence in Libya. He lived up to this promise thus far and gained Russian respect.

How will the situation in Libya eventually pan out is anyone’s guess. That said, apart from sending regular Turkish Army units, Erdogan is not short on rounding up fighters; and he has attained much experience in this infamous field of expertise from his vicious attack on Syria. With Qatari money in his pocket, he can recruit as many fighters as Qatar can afford.

Erdogan realizes that the West is not interested in backing him up militarily in Libya. The best deal he can get from America is a tacit support. And with France, a NATO member taking part in the above-mentioned five-nation conference, he will definitely have to stand alone so-to-speak.

He has Qatar behind him, but how powerful is Qatar? A ‘nation’ of 200,000 citizens? How can such a small state play such a big role and why?

Qatar is not really a nation or even a state in the true sense. Qatar is an entity, a ‘corporation’ owned by a ruling dynasty that serves the interests of the USA and Israel. https://thesaker.is/qatar-unplugged/. This family will outlay any sum of money to guarantee its own protection and continuity.

And Erdogan, the friend-and-foe of both of America and Israel, knows the vulnerabilities and strengths of Qatar, and he is using his deceptive talents to provide the Qatari ruling family with the securities that the shortfalls that America and Israel do not provide. For example, it was he who sent troops to Qatar after the Saudi threats. And even though Erdogan will never take any serious actions against his NATO masters except in rhetoric, the weak and fearful Qataris will dance to the tune of any protector and will sell their souls to the devil should they need to.

On the other hand in Libya, if Haftar finds himself facing a huge Turkish army, he will need assistance on the ground. Where will he seek it from?  His next-door neighbour Egypt? If so, will it be in the form of regular army units or hired guns?

Sisi is neither a religious nor a fundamentalist zealot, but this is not meant to be a complementary statement. He has not taken any serious black-and-white steps in regional politics. This does not mean he is a man of principles. He is probably waiting for dollar signs, and if he sees financial benefits in supporting Saudi Arabia in a proxy war against Turkey in Libya, he may opt to agree; if the price it right.

Whether or not Saudi Arabia can afford a new war, especially with current crude prices, is another story, but as the war on Yemen winds down, the gung-ho MBS is irrational enough to be persuaded. His regional enemy is no longer Assad. His current enemy is Erdogan.

To be fair to MBS, despite his vile, criminal and megalomaniac attributes, he never claims to be a religious leader, but Erdogan does, and many Sunni Muslims see in Erdogan THE leader they have been waiting for. This alone constitutes a huge challenge for MBS because neither he, nor anyone else in the whole of Saudi Arabia for that matter, is regarded anywhere in the Muslim World as a potential leader of the Sunni Muslims.

In reality, as far as Muslim leadership is concerned, the Saudis can only bank on the location of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Apart from this, they only have wealth that enables them to buy supporters, but their oil wealth is becoming increasingly vulnerable.

In the uphill fight against Erdogan within the Muslim World, both of the Saudis and the Turks realize that the fight between them in Syria is over. Actually, the Saudis have no loyal ‘troops’ on Syrian soil left to fight anyone with. This begs the question of whether or not the Turks and Saudis are moving the battle ground and the score settling from Syria to Libya.

This time around, such a potential battle between the two lines of Jihadis may have to morph from a fight between terror organizations to a war between regular armies; the Turkish Army against the Egyptian Army. Such a battle will rage over Libyan soil, with the Turks financed by Qatar and Egypt by Saudi Arabia.

Such a war will not necessarily bring in Iran into the fight. If it eventuates, it will be a fundamentalist Sunni-Sunni war, sponsored by fundamentalist Sunni states, each fighting for and against different versions of radical Muslim fundamentalism, under the watchful eyes of the USA and to the glee of Israel.

The jihadi war that was first ignited in Tripoli Lebanon between a rogue terror organization and the Lebanese Army did not end. It kept moving theatres and objectives and changing players. Is the final score going to be settled in Tripoli Libya?

انقلاب تركيّ على نتائج الحرب العالميّة الثانية

د. وفيق إبراهيم

يضغط الاتراك عسكرياً وسياسياً لتحقيق المكانة المحورية بين المتصارعين للسيطرة على اعماق البحر الأبيض المتوسط وسواحل بلدانه مع بعض امتداداتها الداخلية في البر.

فما يجري أدرك مرحلة حرب ضروس بين قوى دولية من اوروبا وشرقي المتوسط وروسيا واميركا مع بعض النحيب المصريّ الشجيّ والرقص الإماراتي على حبال اميركية متينة.

مدى هذه الحرب واسع جداً لشمولها المياه الإقليمية والدولية للمتوسط في جهاته الشرقية والجنوبية فتشمل سواحل بلاد الشام في سورية ولبنان وفلسطين المحتلة ومصر الى السواحل الجنوبية في ليبيا وتونس والجزائر والمغرب وتضم أيضاً سواحل قبرص من كل جهاتها وصولاً الى اليونان.

هناك اذاً صراع مفتوح على المتوسط يأخذ شكل حرب عسكرية شرسة في ليبيا بين دولتيها المتصارعتين الغربية للسراج الموالية لتركيا والشرقية الجنوبية لحفتر المدعومة من فرنسا وإيطاليا وروسيا وألمانيا وبريطانيا، والأميركيين المكتفين بالتأييد السياسي، انما مع مواصلة الحوار مع الأتراك ورجلهم الليبي الاخواني السراج.

كما يتجسّد هذا الصراع في ارتفاع حدة التوتر بين تركيا واليونان على غاز ونفط قبرص وأعماق البحر. وهذا الموضوع محكوم باعتقاد تركي ان الأميركيين خصوصاً والغربيين عموماً بحاجة اليهم، منذ زمن الاتحاد السوفياتي، لذلك ترك الغرب تركيا تحتل الجزء المسكون من أتراك قبارصة في الجزيرة المستقلة منذ 1974.

بالمقابل تعتبر اليونان أن قبرص هي جزء من تراثها الإغريقي بالاضافة الى انتمائها القومي الى اليونان، فتتصرف اليونان وكأنها صاحبة الحق المبرم في الجزيرة وثرواتها.

لكن هذا الصراع ليس إلا الجزء البسيط من صراع عثماني – يوناني تاريخي، نجح فيه الأتراك منذ قرون عدة بالسيطرة على جزء نهائي من تركيا.

هذه الصراعات في المتوسط وليبيا تدفع نحو صراعات عالمية الطابع ومياهه الوطنية والدولية. وهذا يشمل الخلاف اللبناني مع الكيان الإسرائيلي المحتل عند الحدود البحرية في الجنوب وخلاف كامن تركي سوري على إمكانات كبيرة من الغاز والنفط في أعماق حدوديهما البحرية.

ما هي الخطة التركية؟

تشرف تركيا على مسافة طويلة من سواحل المتوسط بدءاً من حدودها البحرية مع سورية وحتى بحار اليونان، وأضافت دوراً متوسطياً لها بالسيطرة على قبرص التركية وليبيا «السراج» وتطمح من خلال العلاقة مع حزب النهضة التونسي الذي يمسك رئيسه الغنوشي برئاسة مجلس نواب بلاده. تطمح الى ضم تونس الى نفوذها. فتستطيع بذلك ان تمسك بالحدود البحرية والإقليمية لقبرص الواقعة في منتصف البحر المتوسط. وتمتد الى ليبيا براً وبحراً مع مدياتها الاقليمية، هذا بالاضافة الى ان سواحل المتوسط التركية تبيح لها التنقيب في اعماق المتوسط بين اليونان وقبرص وحتى سواحلها المباشرة، وتعتبر تركيا أنها دولة متوسطية اساسية لها كامل الحق والاولوية في التنقيب في اعماق البحر المتوسط قبالة العالم العربي من المغرب وحتى حدودها الإقليمية مع اليونان وبلغاريا، اي ما يعادل خمساً وسبعين في المئة من سواحل البحر المتوسط وبالتالي أعماقه الدولية.

هذا ما يدفع الى السؤال التالي: أين العرب من كل ذلك وأين الغرب وروسيا؟

معظم العرب في الخليج مرتبطون بالمشروع الأميركي المتريث من جهة والمشترك من جهة أخرى في الحرب عبر التورط الاماراتي في حرب ليبيا بالإسناد وبالسلاح والتمويل لقوات حفتر.

اما اوروبا فمنزعجة من الاستيلاء التركي على دولة السراج الليبية فتدعم حفتر إنما من دون السماح له بالحسم النهائي، لان المفاوضات الدولية على اقتسام المغانم في كامل البحر المتوسط لم تصل بعد الى خواتيمها، ما يتطلب تسعيراً للمعارك بدأ يظهر بالسلاح الأوروبي والإماراتي المتدفق الى بنغازي والجنوب مع قوات روسية تابعة لشركات فاغنر الى جانب دعم مصري مباشر بالخبراء والمدربين وبعض الكتائب العسكرية، بالمقابل تقف قوات تركية مع جيش السراج ومجموعات من تنظيمات سورية إرهابية وأخرى من الاخوان المسلمين. اما العرب المجاورون لليبيا، فمصر تخشى من انتصار الاخوان المسلمين الليبيين ومعها تركيا، فينعكس على وضعها في الداخل المصري، حيث لا يزال الاخوان المسلمون فيها القوة الأساسية بعد الجيش المصري. لجهة السودان فلا يزال غارقاً في خلافاته الداخلية، وتطبيق سياسات منصاعة للأميركيين تجعله من مؤيدي حفتر حيناً وصامت في معظم الاحيان.

لكن تونس يتنازعها تياران، الاول من الاخوان المسلمين يؤيد السراج الليبي والآخر من أجنحة رئيسها قيس سعيّد الذي يدعو الى الحياد.

واذا كان باستطاعة قائد الاخوان في تونس رئيس مجلس النواب الغنوشي الذي يترأس ايضاً اخوان ليبيا بجهاديين متطوعين فإن قيس سعيّد عاجز عن دعم حفتر إلا بالدعاء.

على مستوى البلدان العربية غير المجاورة، فسورية منهمكة بالتصدّي لتركيا واخوانها مع احتلال عسكري اميركي الى جانب الإرهابيين، والمغرب لم يعد يأبه للصراعات العربية. وهذا حال كامل العالم العربي الذي تجتاحه تركيا اما بالوسائل المباشرة كحال العراق وسورية وليبيا وحزب الإصلاح في اليمن وبعض اجنحة الاخوان في السودان والجزائر وتونس، وإما بالسياسة. لذلك فإن المشروع التركي يبدو واضحاً بمحاولة الاستفادة من تراجع الدور الاميركي في الشرق الأوسط وتقهقر الدور السعودي في معظم العالمين الاسلامي والعربي لإعادة العثمانية الاردوغانية الجديدة بوسيلتين: السيطرة الاستراتيجية والايديولوجية والاستيلاء على الغاز والنفط.

ألا يشكل هذا الأمر انقلاباً تركياً على نتائج الحرب العالمية الثانية؟

يعتبر الأتراك ان الاميركيين سمحوا لهم باحتلال ثلث قبرص منذ 46 عاماً. وكان هناك عدو واحد لهم هو الاتحاد السوفياتي، اما اليوم فلديهم عدوان اثنان واكثر من منافس هما الصين وروسيا والمانيا واليابان والهند، لذلك تبقى تركيا حاجة اساسية للنفوذ الاميركي العالمي، واي تخلٍ عنها يذهب نحو تدمير كبير للجيوبوليتيك الاميركي. هذا هو صميم المراهنة التركية التي تجزم بأن الاميركيين لن يعترضوا على دور كبير لها في مياه البحر الابيض المتوسط وسواحل بلدانه، لا يفعل أكثر من صد النفوذ الروسي الصيني.

فهل هذا صحيح؟

لن تقبل دول اوروبا المتوسطية في فرنسا وايطاليا بهذه المعادلة. وقد تتمكن اليونان العضو في الاتحاد الاوروبي من جذب المانيا ومعظم دول الاتحاد الى مياه البحر المتوسط للاستفادة من ثرواته، كما ان الاميركيين لن يذهبوا الى حدود إثارة غضب الاوروبيين من اجل ارضاء اردوغان، وقد يذهبون كعادتهم نحو التوفيق بين تحالفاتهم انما على اساس الاولوية للمصالح الاميركية.

يتبقى العرب وعندما يستيقظون من سباتهم تكون المعركة على ثروات المتوسط اختتمت فصولها وانتقلت للسيطرة على بحار جديدة.

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