Archive for the ‘Turkey’s territorial claims’ category

CYPRUS SAYS TURKISH SHIPS OBSTRUCTING GAS DRILL SHIP IN EAST MED

February 11, 2018

BY REUTERS FEBRUARY 11, 2018 13:43 Via Jerusalem Post

Source:
CYPRUS SAYS TURKISH SHIPS OBSTRUCTING GAS DRILL SHIP IN EAST MED

{Turkey continues to gobble up more territory. – LS}

In addition to Cyprus and Turkey, Israel and Lebanon are also at odds over offshore gas exploration and marine boundaries.

COSIA – Cyprus said on Sunday the Turkish military was obstructing a drill rig contracted by Italy’s Eni from approaching an area to explore for natural gas, highlighting tensions over offshore resources in the east Mediterranean.

The Saipem 12000 drill ship had been heading from a location south-southwest of Cyprus towards an area southeast of the island when it was stopped by Turkish warships on Friday, Cyprus said.

There was no immediate comment from Turkey.

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Cyprus was taking the “necessary” steps over the matter, but seemed keen to play down any escalation.
“From our side, our actions reflect the necessity of avoiding anything which could escalate (the situation), without of course overlooking the violation of international law perpetrated by Turkey,” Anastasiades told journalists in Nicosia.

In Italy, a spokesperson for state-controlled Eni confirmed the drill ship was stopped on Friday by Turkish military ships.

Using the Saipem 1200, Eni had previously reported a promising gas discovery south-southwest of the island in another location on Feb. 8, inside Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone.

Blocking the ship is the latest twist in decades-old feuds and overlapping claims in the eastern Mediterrananean, brought into sharper focus by the discovery of some of the world’s largest gas finds in the past decade lurking in the watery deep.

Cyprus is ethnically divided, and Turkey, which supports a breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in north Cyprus, says Greek Cypriots have no jurisdiction to explore for natural gas. Greek Cypriots say it is their sovereign right.

Greek Cypriots run Cyprus’s internationally recognised government. It has no diplomatic relations with Turkey.

In addition to Cyprus and Turkey, Israel and Lebanon are also at odds over offshore gas exploration and marine boundaries.

The Saipem 12000 had previously been commissioned to drill the Calypso, which lies less than 100 km away from the mammoth Zohr field off Egypt. It had been heading to a maritime block, known as Block 3, where it was to start work on another prospect, dubbed Cuttlefish.

Block 3, which lies far below Cyprus’s Karpasia peninsula, the pointed ‘panhandle’ of the island, lies closer to Syria or Lebanon than Turkey.

In Italy, a spokesperson for Eni said the Saipem 12000 was stopped by Turkish military ships with the notice not to continue because of military activities in the destination area.

“The vessel has prudently executed the orders and will remain in position pending an evolution of the situation,” the spokesperson said.

 

Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman Plans

November 3, 2016

Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman Plans, Gatestone Institute, Burak Bekdil, November 3, 2016

“Let us see how your Islamist friend [Erdogan] behaves after crushing the secular establishment.” — The author to a friend, 2004.

To insist on the borders Turkey accepted in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne “is the greatest injustice to be done to the country and to the nation.” — Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, October 19, 2016.

Erdogan’s newfound claims seem to refer not only to wish to regain hegemony to the west (Greece) but also about the south (Syria) and the southeast (Iraq). Turkey evidently wishes to be part of an Iraqi- and Kurdish-led offensive against Mosul, controlled since 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Sipping his ouzo at a café in Athens on a warm afternoon in 2004, a Greek diplomat friend smiled and said:

“You are wrong about Erdogan. He will reform Turkey’s democratic culture, align it with the European Union, strengthen its ties with NATO and pursue a pro-peace policy in this part of the world. Meanwhile he will crush the secular army establishment and Turkey will no longer be a threat to any of its neighbors.”

I said: “Let us see how your Islamist friend [Erdogan] behaves after crushing the secular establishment.”

Twelve years later, I still enjoy our peaceful ouzo sessions with the same Greek friend. But things do not look equally peaceful between Turkey and its neighbors, including Greece.

Speaking at a public rally on October 22, President Erdogan said that “We did not accept our borders voluntarily.” He went on to say, “At the time [when the current borders were drawn] we may have agreed to it but the real mistake is to surrender to that sacrifice.” What does all that mean?

On October 19, Erdogan spoke of Turkey being constrained by foreign powers who “aim to make us forget our Ottoman and Seldjuk history,” when Turkey’s forefathers held territory stretching across Central Asia and the Middle East. His words came at a time when pro-government media was publishing maps depicting Ottoman borders encompassing an area that included Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, a former Ottoman province.

On the same day, he said:

“[In 1914] Our territories were as large as 2.5 million square kilometers, and after nine years at the time of the Lausanne Treaty it diminished to 780,000 square kilometres…. To insist on [the 1923 borders] is the greatest injustice to be done to the country and to the nation. While everything is changing in today’s world, we cannot see to preserving our status of 1923 as a success.”

Erdogan’s newfound claims seem to refer not only to wish to regain hegemony to the west (Greece) but also about the south (Syria) and the southeast (Iraq). Turkey evidently wishes to be part of an Iraqi- and Kurdish-led offensive against Mosul, controlled since 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Turkey, it appears, would like to be part of the operation primarily to make sure that post-ISIS Mosul is “Sunni enough” and not Shiite.

In Syria, Turkey is targeting Kurds with the help of its allies, the semi-jihadist Islamists under the umbrella force of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The Turkish military launched its land incursion into Syria on August 24 and has been controlling the area ever since, supporting from behind various Sunni Islamist factions under the SFA. On October 20, one day after Erdogan spoke of the “injustice of the 1923 borders,” the Turkish military said its warplanes bombed U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

These bombings took place as Kurdish fighters were advancing against ISIS militants near Afrin, a city about 40 kilometers northwest of Aleppo. Turkey said its attacks killed 160 to 200 Kurdish fighters, but a predominantly Kurdish political party in Turkey, the HDN, said 14 people, including four civilians, were killed.

The move not only exposed the allied campaign against ISIS to unforeseen operational risks but also could create military tensions between Turkey and Syria, the latter supported by Iran and Russia. The Syrian government quickly warned that further Turkish planes in Syrian airspace will be “brought down by all means available.”

On October 22, local sources informed the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that the Turkish shelling was still continuing on areas controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. On that day alone Turkish forces launched more than 200 tank and artillery shells and missiles.

Erdogan’s pro-Ottoman revisionism may appeal to tens of millions of Turks’ newfound pride, to their yearning for their forefathers’ glorious past, and may even come in the form of more votes for the already popular president. But this irredentist sentiment, especially if further supported by military hardware, will only make a turbulent region even more turbulent — including Turkish territory.

1070In 2013, The Economist published on its cover a photomontage of Ottoman Sultan Selim III and Turkey’s then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to illustrate Erdogan’s growing autocratic tendencies (left). In 2015, Erdogan himself posed in his palace with the costumed “16 warriors” that guard him, who are meant to represent the 16 polities in Turkic history, including the Mughal empire, Timurid empire and Ottoman empire (right).

 

Turkey’s New Territorial Claims Threaten NATO

October 13, 2016

Turkey’s New Territorial Claims Threaten NATO, Counter Jihad, October 13, 2016

turkey-islamic

Should Russia be able to get a process of negotiation going between Turkey, Iraq and Iran on the issue of Turkish territorial expansion, Russia would assume the leadership role in the region.  Should it actually resolve the negotiations successfully, it could expect Turkey to become part of the Russian sphere of influence.  That would potentially derail NATO, as NATO’s decisions must be taken by a unanimous vote.  If Turkey becomes as strong a Russian ally as China, NATO could become as useless an organ for opposing Russian ambition as the United Nations Security Council (on which Russia has a veto).

American diplomatic weakness is partially a function of American military weakness in the region.  Russian diplomatic success is partially likewise a function of its deployment of air and naval-gunnery forces, as well as its so-far successful alliance with Iran.  Better American leadership might help, but for now, the situation is rapidly sliding away from America and towards the Russians.

****************************

A significant claim is being pushed by the Turkish government, one that could redraw the lines of the old Ottoman Empire:

Тhe spat erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the country and the region by surprise last month by calling into question the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which defined modern Turkey’s borders.  He declared Turkey had been blackmailed by foreign powers into giving up vast swaths of territory that were once part of the Ottoman Empire….

[A]ccording to visiting Carnegie Europe scholar Sinan Ulgen[:]  “The message should be seen more of a signal in relation to Turkish polices towards the south, Syria and Iraq. I read it as a backdrop to a policy that tries to build domestic support for a more long-term presence, particularly in Syria, by pointing out, at allegedly past historical mistakes,” Ulgen said.

Turkish forces are currently in Syria and Iraq. But the Turkish presence at the Bashiqa base, close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, has become the center of a deepening dispute with Baghdad. The base is ostensibly tor training Sunni militia to fight Islamic State.

On Tuesday, Erdogan dismissed Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s calls to withdraw Turkish troops, telling him “he should know his place.”

Ulgen went on to point out that Turkey has historical claims not only to Mosul, currently contested in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).   Both Mosul and oil-rich Kirkuk were part of the original design of the modern-day Turkey.  The Turks’ traditionalists and nationalists view the treaty that gave them away as having been forced on them at the end of World War I.

If Russian diplomacy can broker a deal that allows Turkey to expand into Iraq and Syria, it could cement Turkey’s move into Russia’s sphere.  Until recently, that looked unlikely at best.  Last year, Turkmen fighters shot down a Russian jet over repeated incursions by the Russian air force.  At that time, relations between the two nations became quite tense.  Russia is backing Iran’s play in the region, apparently in the hope that a powerful Shi’a Iran will create a buffer zone between Russia and the Sunni jihadist forces that have acted to inflame Muslim minorities in Central Asia.  Likewise, the war in the Middle East draws attention away from Russia’s strategic moves in Eastern Europe, such as last week’s deployment of nuclear missiles on the very borders of Poland and the Baltic States.

Turkey’s latest move appears likely to inflame Iraq’s government, and Russia’s ally Iran intends to control Iraq at the end of this conflict.  Surrendering territory, especially oil-rich territory, may be a difficult negotiation.  On the other hand, Kirkuk is also disputed with the Kurds, and whichever government formally holds it after the war is going to have to fight to keep it.  Iran may be willing to be persuaded to concede the fight to Turkey in return for a more firmly-controlled corridor between Tehran and the Levant.

That will require some subtle diplomacy to negotiate, but right now Russia is having significant success in its diplomatic moves.  In the wake of a new energy deal between Turkey and Russia, the Russian diplomatic corps seems to have a lot of momentum on its side.  Turkey was already looking away from NATO and Europe in the wake of its Islamist purge following an alleged attempted coup.  Should Russia be able to get a process of negotiation going between Turkey, Iraq and Iran on the issue of Turkish territorial expansion, Russia would assume the leadership role in the region.  Should it actually resolve the negotiations successfully, it could expect Turkey to become part of the Russian sphere of influence.  That would potentially derail NATO, as NATO’s decisions must be taken by a unanimous vote.  If Turkey becomes as strong a Russian ally as China, NATO could become as useless an organ for opposing Russian ambition as the United Nations Security Council (on which Russia has a veto).

American diplomacy is meanwhile spinning its wheels.  The United States broke off talks with Russia, and then called for war crimes investigations into Russia and Assad for their campaign in Syria.  American Secretary of State John F. Kerry also accused Russia of interfering with America’s elections.  However, it appears that Kerry now wants a new push for a cease-fire in Aleppo, which would require Syria and Russia to sign on.

American diplomatic weakness is partially a function of American military weakness in the region.  Russian diplomatic success is partially likewise a function of its deployment of air and naval-gunnery forces, as well as its so-far successful alliance with Iran.  Better American leadership might help, but for now, the situation is rapidly sliding away from America and towards the Russians.