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UK military killing THOUSANDS of farm animals in Cyprus and threatening PROTECTED wildlife zones

RT | June 10, 2020

The British military is “knowingly” causing the deaths of farm animals in Cyprus on an “almost daily basis” and has paid millions of pounds in compensation to farmers since 1995, an investigation has revealed.

Activity at a British base on the Mediterranean island has resulted in 1,764 claims for “animal loss” over the last five years from “live-firing and low-flying,” the Declassified UK website revealed on Wednesday. The animal deaths are happening near the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Akrotiri on the southern peninsula of Cyprus, the investigative website said.

Paying compensation to farmers is now commonplace, and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) paid out almost £750,000 during the 2018-19 financial year – most of which was to settle 334 animal loss claims. One of the payouts last year covered costs for “abortions and associated vet fees” after pregnant goats were killed by low-flying aircraft.

Declassified UK said internal documents show that the MOD is “knowingly” causing the deaths by permitting planes to fly as low as 100 feet above the ground. A report in 2009 explained that the goats “abort their unborn kids/lambs if panicked” by low-flying planes and the “dry firing/pyrotechnics.”

The MOD has also paid compensation to UK farmers for animal deaths, but the numbers of incidents are “far higher” in Cyprus, Declassified said, suggesting the military may make more of an effort to avoid such deaths on British soil.

For instance, only 22 claims were settled across the UK between 2014 and 2018 for animal deaths due to aircraft noise, while 1,034 were made in Cyprus over the same period.

The investigative website found that more than half of the deaths are close to the Paramali river, which is a protected wildlife zone described by the MOD as being home to Europe’s “most valuable and threatened species” including falcons, harriers and kestrels. It’s not known, however, if the British military activity has killed any wild animals.

The UK has two bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which it retained following the granting of independence to Cyprus in 1960. It uses the land for training soldiers for combat in the Middle East, even creating a “mock Afghan village” for an “authentic” experience.

Local farmers are not permitted to water or harvest their crops in the areas during live-firing exercises, a situation which results in “crop loss” claims for “poor yield or overripe items unable to be sold.” Between animal and crop loss claims, the MOD has paid out £8 million to claimants over the past 25 years.

The internal documents also showed the military was aware that expanded training exercises in areas with large farms would “inevitably see more expensive claims being presented” — but proceeded with the plans anyway. They do, however, conduct some reconnaissance before exercises in an effort to maintain “good relations” with the community.

The presence of the British military in the area has long been controversial for Cypriots, with a 2001 proposal to build a large radio mast at a site on the edge of Limassol Salt Lake sparking riots outside the RAF base.

The lake is recognized as a “wetland of international importance” and hosts 15,000 greater flamingos during the winter months. The presence of an RAF runway less than one kilometer away means disturbance to the wildlife there is a “major issue,” BirdLife Cyprus director Martin Hellicar told Declassified. An MOD spokesperson said all training and activity takes place under “strict conditions” and with precautions to minimize risk.

June 10, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Cyprus Signalling Is More against Turkey than Russia

By Paul Antonopoulos | April 15, 2020

The Al-Monitor portal has left many extremely surprised with news that was not expected in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. With over 600,000 cases and 25,000 deaths in the U.S., President Donald Trump has made a bold geopolitical move and instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to determine whether Cyprus should have the arms embargo against it lifted, according to Al-Monitor’s congressional correspondent, Bryant Harris.

“Trump tasked Pompeo with the decision [yesterday] via a presidential memorandum after signing two separate bills to lift the embargo in December — legislation that Turkey had unsuccessfully sought to forestall,” explained Harris.

In 1987, the U.S. embargoed arms sales to Cyprus under the pretext of preventing an arms build-up on the island. However, this was not a problem for Cyprus as Russia became one of the biggest weapon suppliers instead. If the U.S. were trying to have balance on Cyprus, it certainly did not achieve this as the country only became closer with Russia and to this day they still have close ties.

In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern parts of the island to prevent Cyprus from uniting with Greece and to this day continues an illegal occupation. The occupation is to maintain the quasi “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” that is recognized by no other state in the world bar Turkey and is recognized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 and UN Security Council Resolution 550 as illegal.

The U.S. has never taken an interest in protecting Cypriot interests despite the illegalities of the occupation of northern Cyprus – up until recent times. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan going rogue against U.S. and NATO interests by strengthening relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, including the sale of the S-400 missile defense system that are not compatible with NATO doctrine.

The irony is that Turkey bought the S-400 system despite the fact that in 1997 Cyprus bought the S-300 air defense missiles from Russia, but had to trade it with Greece for other weapons under a Turkish threat of blockade and/or war. The S-300 is now located on the Greek island of Crete. As Greece in recent years has been a loyal subject of NATO without much independent foreign policy, Washington is now willing to give the country more concessions. In previous years, Washington would only appease Turkey as it controlled the Bosporus Straits that connects Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to the rest of the world.

However, these concessions and attempts to strengthen relations between Cyprus and the U.S. come at a price. Harris explains that the U.S. Congress laid out specific criteria that Cyprus needs to fulfill before it is allowed to procure arms from the U.S., if it ever choose to.

“Specifically, the law requires Cyprus to deny Russian military vessels to its ports despite a 2015 agreement with Moscow to do so. It also requires Cyprus — a financial haven for wealthy Russians to evade US sanctions — to comply with anti-money laundering regulations,” he said.

It is very unlikely that Cyprus will meet these demands made as it is not a NATO member, nor does it have the incentive to abandon a partner that supplied it weapons when the U.S. turned its back. Knowing this fact, Harris explained that “even if Cyprus fails to comply with these conditions, the law gives Pompeo the freedom to lift the embargo anyway via a national security waiver.”

This therefore means that the true target of this arms embargo lift is not necessarily Russia, but rather Turkey. It is effectively in Cypriot hands on whether they want to take on these U.S. conditions. Cyprus is being ‘rewarded’ by Washington as in recent years it has formed a strategic partnership with Israel in the economic, energy and military sector. Because of this, pro-Israel groups in the U.S. lobbied to lift the arms embargo last year, especially as Erdoğan frequently antagonizes Tel Aviv.

Although it is in Pompeo’s hands to decide whether to lift the embargo or not, it is more likely he will choose to do this even if Cyprus decides not to conform to the anti-Russian measures demanded. Not only are Trump and Pompeo receiving pressure from the Israeli lobby, but they are also receiving pressure from extremely influential think-tanks.

In an article from June 2019, titled “Lift the Arms Embargo on Cyprus,” that was first published by The Center for the National Interest, and then republished by the CATO Institute, the author explains “The current arms embargo on Cyprus is unbalanced and unfair. Favoring Turkey never was likely to help keep the peace. Today, given Erdogan’s transformation into a frenemy of America at best, and confrontational policy toward Cyprus and Greece, the embargo rewards an essentially rogue government. The United States should see Turkey plain and stop tolerating the latter’s unfriendly conduct.”

However, there is no guarantee that just because Cyprus is now being noticed and recognized by Washington that it will quickly abandon Russia, especially because of decades of limited relations and the important role the U.S. played in supporting the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus. Rather, the lifting of the arms embargo is just one small gesture that Washington might make to antagonize a rogue Erdoğan, and if this is the aim, it will certainly work as the Turkish president believes the island to be a part of his domain.

Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies.

April 15, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

France sends warships to Mediterranean to deter Turkey

MEMO | January 30, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron has sent warships to the Eastern Mediterranean to give support to Greece against Turkey’s quest for energy reserves in the region.

Together with Macron was Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was on a visit to the French capital Paris to gather support against Turkey. Mitsotakis welcomed the decision and described the warships as “guarantors of peace.”

“The only way to end differences in the eastern Mediterranean is through international justice,” he told reporters after holding talks with Macron. “Greece and France are pursuing a new framework of strategic defence.”

Tensions have increased significantly over the past year in the Eastern Mediterranean due to Turkey’s dispute with Southern Cyprus over the distribution of energy resources in the waters off the island of Cyprus.

In June last year, Turkey deployed drilling vessels to search for natural gas in retaliation to a deal struck by Greece, Southern Cyprus and Israel earlier that month, in which the three states agreed to build a pipeline harnessing the reserves of natural gas off the southern shores of the island. This pipeline – named EastMed – which is estimated to produce a profit of $9 billion over 18 years of the reserve’s exploitation, would be supplying gas from the Eastern Mediterranean region all the way to countries in Europe.

Turkey has called on those countries to participate in a fair and equal distribution of the energy resources discovered off Cyprus, insisting that they are attempting to exclude and alienate Turkey by striking their own deal without the consideration of both the major regional player and the people of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Therefore, it stresses that the drilling activities that Turkey is carrying out is legal and within territorial waters.

The EU, however, has repeatedly called on Turkey to give up its claim on having a share in the energy resources, claiming that its activities are “illegal”, leading to the Union to impose sanctions on the Republic in July last year over the issue, as well as due to Turkey’s military incursion – Operation Peace Spring – into northern Syria in October.

As France is one of the most prominent supporters of Greece in the dispute, Macron accused Turkey of being the one responsible for raising tensions as well as causing trouble in war torn Libya. “I want to express my concerns with regard to the behaviour of Turkey at the moment,” said Macron. “We have seen during these last days Turkish warships accompanied by Syrian mercenaries arrive on Libyan soil. This is an explicit and serious infringement of what was agreed in Berlin [conference]. It’s a broken promise.”

Greece itself has reportedly long been prepared for a military confrontation, with Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos recently warning that the country was “examining all scenarios, even that of military engagement.” This was shown with Greece’s arming of 16 Aegean islands last week, in violation of international law which stipulates that they remain demilitarised. When Turkey called on Greece to disarmed them and uphold international law, Greece refused.

January 30, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey calls US ending of Cyprus arms embargo ‘dangerous escalation’

Press TV – December 18, 2019

Turkey has warned that the United States’ decision to end a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus would be a “dangerous escalation.”

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the US decision “will have no outcome other than hampering efforts toward a settlement on the island and creating a dangerous escalation.”

The US Congress voted Tuesday to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus, which has been in place since 1987. The measure has passed both chambers of Congress as part of a massive defense spending bill, with President Donald Trump likely to sign it.

The bill comes at a time of tensions between Turkey and the US over such issues as Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system and Washington’s support for Kurdish-led militants in Syria.

Cyprus has been divided into Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories since a brief war in 1974, which saw Turkey intervene militarily in response to a military coup on the island sponsored by the Greek military junta of the time.

Greek Cypriots run the island’s internationally recognized government, while Turkish Cypriots have the breakaway territory in the north — only recognized as a “state” by Turkey.

Turkey and the Greek Cyprus, which do not have diplomatic ties, are also involved in a dispute over offshore resources. Ankara says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under what it calls the territory of the Turkish Cyprus.

Turkey already has two drilling vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean despite the threat of European Union sanctions.

December 18, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Cyprus police seize former Israeli intelligence officer’s surveillance vehicle

MEMO | November 18, 2019

Police in Cyprus confiscated a van on Saturday with high-tech surveillance equipment inside, news agencies have reported. Police officers took its Israeli owner for questioning after reports that the vehicle was used to spy on people.

According to the Cyprus Times, police took an interest after reports by Forbes magazine in August that a high-tech surveillance vehicle was in Larnaca with the capability of intercepting WhatsApp messages, Facebook chats, telephone calls and all the content of smartphones. This prompted the main Cypriot opposition part, Akel, to ask on Friday how and why such a vehicle was present in Cyprus and whether it had been inspected at customs.

Officials said that the vehicle is owned by a former senior Israeli intelligence officer called Tal Dilian. It is said that he operates in Cyprus through a registered company with Cypriot shareholders.

The vehicle and equipment are together said to be valued at around $9 million. It was apparently confiscated and taken to police headquarters.

Arab48.com reported that police in Israel have said that they have not received any information about the case from their Cypriot counterparts. The Israeli Foreign Ministry made no comment.

According to Haaretz, Dilian said that his services are intended to track terrorists and criminals, but his company merged in 2014 with NSO Group, whose malware has been used to target activists and journalists, including a close friend of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Cyprus signs $9bn contract with Israel to extract gas

MEMO | June 7, 2019

Cyprus will earn $ 9.3 billion over 18 years thanks to the exploitation of the Aphrodite gas field under a renegotiated contract with Dutch-British Shell, US-based Noble, and Israeli company Delek, the Energy Minister for Cyprus, announced.

George Lakkotrypis told reporters that the reworking of the production contract guaranteed Cyprus an average annual income of $ 520 million over the life of the gas field.

“We believe it is a good contract under the current circumstances as it will allow the Republic of Cyprus to earn significant commercial revenues estimated at more than $ 9 billion throughout 18 years of the well’s production.”

Under the new deal, companies will commit to a short period for gas reserves exploitation. “Based on the development and production plan we discussed, we expect the first gas quantities to be extracted by 2024-2025,” he said.

Lakkotrypis explained that “the consortium was not previously bound to a deadline.”

Aphrodite gas field is the most significant development project on the island with about $ 7.9 billion invested in related infrastructure.

In 2011, Texas-based Noble Energy made its first discovery off the southern coast of Cyprus in the Aphrodite block, which is estimated to contain about 4.5 trillion cubic feet (127 billion cubic meters) of gas that have not been marketed yet.

The discovery of a vast offshore field in nearby Egyptian waters in 2015 raised more interest in exploring similar resources in Cypriot waters.

Cyprus aims to start pumping natural gas through a pipeline to an Egyptian gas liquefaction facility.

Cyprus has continued to explore marine energy resources despite the collapse of talks between the Turkish and Cypriot sides, in 2017, to end the division that lasted for decades in the island which north is occupied by Turkey.

The new agreement has angered Turkey, which seized the northern part of the island in 1974 following a coup sponsored by Greece’s military junta.

Accordingly, Turkey sent drilling vessels into Cyprus exclusive economic zone, last month, after it announced it would begin its energy exploration work.

In February, Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum discovered a vast reserve of natural gas off the coast of Cyprus, estimated at five to eight trillion cubic feet.

Italian ENI and French Total are likewise involved in oil and gas exploration activities off Cyprus.

June 7, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

US condemns Turkey for drilling in Cyprus, foiling Israel pipeline deal

US Ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Garber
MEMO | June 7, 2019

The US Ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Garber, has expressed her deep concerns over Turkey’s continued drilling off the coast of Cyprus, and urged Turkey to halt the operations exploring energy reserves in the surrounding waters.

Garber made the remarks yesterday evening at the Independence Day reception held at the US Embassy in Nicosia, while in the presence of the President of southern Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. She reiterated her support for the Republic and reassured them that the US recognises its right to develop and exploit resources within its “exclusive economic zone” (EEZ).

The resources in question are the vast gas and energy reserves discovered first in Egyptian waters and then in Cypriot waters in recent years, particularly the untouched and un-marketed 4.5 trillion cubic feet (127 billion cubic metres) of gas discovered off the southern coast of Cyprus in 2011. Then in February this year, the companies Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum discovered an estimated five to eight trillion cubic feet of natural gas off the coast of the island.

In her remarks, Garber also touched on the concept of a possible agreement between the Greek and Turkish sides of the island, stating that “resources should be equitably shared between both communities in the context of an overall settlement,” Garber added. “It is our earnest hope that such resources will soon benefit a united Cyprus.”

This, however, does not seem likely, as such vast reserves have prompted a recently-signed deal between Greece, Cyprus and Israel to build the newly planned Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed) pipeline, which would supply gas to European countries and subsequently allow them to decrease their reliance on gas from other sources such as Russia. The deal will mean Cyprus will earn $9.3 billion over 18 years of the reserve’s production.

This new tripartite deal, backed by the US, has angered Turkey, causing it to send drilling vessels into Cyprus’s EEZ last month, announcing that it will begin the work of exploring more energy reserves.

June 7, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

US Senate Provokes Turkey by Backing The New Hellenic-Israeli Alliance in The Eastern Mediterranean

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | 2019-04-10

If anyone doubted that the thriving partnership between Athens, Nicosia and Tel Aviv is not as much about gas as it is about military cooperation, an official statement from the US Senate has put such theories permanently to rest. Not only is Israel siding with countries that continue to have unsettled disputes with Turkey, but by partnering with Nicosia in order to build a gas pipeline to Europe, Israel is upping the stakes against Turkey at a time when relations between Ankara and Tel Aviv continue to decline. In doing so, Israel is actively taking Nicosia’s side in a maritime gas dispute with Ankara. As such, the nuclear armed power is dramatically increasing tensions in in the region.

Legislation introduced by US Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio seeks not only to offer US support to gas extraction and pipeline projects between Tel Aviv, Nicosia and Athens, but as part of this legislative package, the US would lift the long standing arms embargo against Nicosia. This cannot be viewed as anything other than a provocation against Turkey. The fact that this has been proposed days after the US ruled to cut Turkey off from the F-35 project that Ankara had been involved in from its early stages makes it all the more clear that the US, Israel, and the two Hellenic states of southern Europe are united against Turkey. When one adds Egypt and several other southern European nations to this mix, it becomes clear that multiple states are cooperating in order to attempt and harm Turkish interests. This not only poses a danger to the stability of the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, but it puts the efficacy of NATO at risk.

According to a Senatorial press release from Washington:

“The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would allow the US to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defence cooperation initiatives – including by lifting the embargo on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus”.

At a time when Turkey is trying to improve declining ties with the US and reach a settlement to disputes with both Athens and Nicosia, other countries in this equation are taking active steps to provoke and alienate Turkey.

Within this broad context, it is important to remember that while the US claims its F-35 dispute with Turkey is a product of Turkey’s S-400 deal with Russia and whilst Israeli Primer Benjamin Netanyahu claims that Iran is his number one enemy, these rhetorical devices mask a deeper reality in which Turkey is now considered a foremost worry to both Israel and also to many in Washington (in spite of Turkey’s history as a loyal NATO member). All the while, Athens and Nicocia are being used as pawns in the dangerous game whose rules have been set by vastly more powerful nations.

Below is the full background of the multiple ways in which Israel has united with traditionally Turkophobic powers in southern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel, America and The F-35

Throughout 2018, the US threatened to halt delivery of the F-35s to Turkey due to Ankara’s insistence that it will purchase the Russian made S-400 missile defence system. But while on the surface, the row between Turkey and the US appears to be one stemming from a reality in which Turkey has warm relations with Moscow whilst the US does not, there is an Israeli factor at hand that may be the overriding factor at play. The fact that Israel’s ally India has more or less received a green light from the US to purchase S-400s makes this reality all the more clear.

In May of last year, Russian media outlet Sputnik reporting the following:

“According to a top Israeli defence official, the Jewish state seeks to remain the only country in the region with F-35 jets to maintain its military’s qualitative edge. The discussions between Israel and the United States have also reportedly touched upon the jet’s performance-enhancing software; unnamed sources confirmed to Haaretz that the matter is ‘part of the negotiations,’ while Israel has denied having talks over the F-35 deal, under which Turkey is expected to obtain 100 stealth fighter jets”.

Whilst anti-Turkish forces do exist in the US owing to Turkey’s increasingly warm relations to countries as diverse as Russia, Iran and China, the fact that recent years and months have seen a dramatic decline in Turkey-Israel relations has clearly played a part in America’s move to effectively remove Turkey from the F-35 project that it had been a part of from the earliest stages of the jet’s development.

Although the Pentagon had previously expressed its willingness to follow through with its pledged delivery of US made F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Congressional opposition fuelled by a unique alliance of the US based Armenian, Hellenic and Jewish lobbies continues to oppose the US delivery of the jets to NATO member Turkey. This month, these anti-Turkish forces have achieved their desired result as the US has frozen the delivery of F-35s to Turkey.

What one is witnessing in the United States is a perfect storm of geopolitical brinkmanship which has allied with domestic ethno-religious agitation groups in a malaise of open Turkophobia. From the perspective of many in Congress from both major US parties, delivering the F-35s to Turkey would violate the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) which allows for US sanctions on otherwise neutral or even allied countries who purchase weapons from nations being directly sanctioned by Washington. The directly sanctioned nations in question are Russia, Iran and the DPRK (North Korea).

Because of Turkey’s unflinching agreement to purchase Russia’s S-400 missile defence systems, Ankara is now being targeted by members of the US Congress keen to exert what amounts to a blackmail clause in CAATSA which would threaten any nation with sanctions for the “offence” of purchasing Russian weapons.

The reality of the US sanctioning a once valued NATO partner is now becoming an increasingly likely reality.

From healthy relations to the ultimate strain 

Turkey was the first Muslim majority nation to recognise Israel and prior to recent decades, Ankara and Tel Aviv have had a generally healthy relationship. This dramatically changed in 2010 when Israeli commandos illegally boarded the MV Mavi Marmara in international waters. The MV Mavi Marmara was a privately chartered Turkish flagged ship carrying mostly Turkish activists on their way to Gaza in order to deliver much needed humanitarian supplies to besieged Palestinians. The gruesome raid killed ten Turks and resulted in the lowest ebb in Ankara-Tel Aviv relations until now.

A new anti-Turkish alliance in the eastern Mediterranean and among US based pressure groups 

For much of the 20th and 21st centuries, the large American based Hellenic and Armenian lobbies have agitated for a less friendly US approach to Turkey. For the Armenian lobby, the main goal is to convince the US Federal government to recognise the tragic events of 1915 as “The Armenian Genocide” while the Hellenic lobby has sought to persuade Washington to pressure Ankara into acknowledging the early 20th century conflict in western Anatolia as the “Pontic Genocide”. Additionally, the US Hellenic lobby has for years attempted to persuade NATO to take a tougher line on the status of Northern Cyprus. Thus far, none of these lobbying attempts have met with the desired success of the respective lobbies at a Federal level.

While the US based Jewish lobby is traditionally more powerful than either the Hellenic or Armenian lobbies, the US Jewish lobby has generally had little negative to say about Turkey in-line with the fact that of all of the Muslim majority governments in the region Tel Aviv had its best relations with Ankara, as well as the overriding reality that Turkey never passed any antisemitic legislation as most of the powers of Europe did prior to the mid-20th century.

But with Turkish President Erdoğan openly calling for a wider pan-Islamic movement for Palestine, all the while calling Israel a terrorist state, the US Jewish lobby like Israeli politicians, have joined traditional foes of Turkey in openly agitating for a more anti-Turkish position form the US government.

This has expressed itself both domestically in the US and geopolitically in terms of Israel’s new regional partnerships. Against this background, it is perhaps not surprising that Gilad Erdan, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud faction has called for Tel Aviv to recognise the events of 1915 as an “Armenian Genocide”. If Israel were to officially do this, it would represent a clear break between Tel Aviv and Ankara and quite possibly a point of no return. The more Turkey stands up for Palestine, the more voices like those of Erdan will become amplified in arguing for a move that is less about Armenia (a traditionally anti-Zionist nation) than about sending a clear message to Turkey that the partnership has run its course.

Israel and The Craiova Group

Formed in 2015, the fledgling Craiova Group is a partnership between Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania aimed at fostering deeper cooperation between the four south-eastern European nations. While the group has generally been far less notable in terms of its aims and accomplishments vis-a-vis the Three Seas Initiative linking Baltic eastern and central Europe with the European nations of south-east, this month the Craiova Group came into its own as the official organisation which will carry out Israel’s attempt to isolate Turkey in the wider eastern Mediterranean region.

On the 2nd of November, 2018, Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu took part in a Craiova Group summit in Varna, Bulgaria. There, Netanyahu said,

“I am here at the summit of four countries – Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania. This is the first time that they have invited a leader outside these four countries to participate in their summit. This is a great honor for Israel and reflects Israel’s rising status in the world.

Each one of the leaders has individually told me that they will try to improve their consideration of Israel in relevant votes both at the EU and the UN. They all want to promote the gas pipeline from Leviathan to Europe and the Balkans. They are also very interested in Israeli gas and Israeli technology, and they would very much like Israel’s friendship. This is a good sign”.

Netanyahu also discussed making the Craiova Group integral to Tel Aviv’s plans to construct the East Med Pipeline, a joint Israeli-Hellenic project that will see a gas pipeline travelling from disputed Israeli waters through to disputed Cypriot waters and finally into mainland Europe via The Hellenic Republic. But while Netanyahu’s speech talked about unity against the supposed threat of Islam which clearly played to the sentiments of many in Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania where the racist anti-Turkish/anti-Muslim hashtag “#nokebab” has become a cultural phenomenon, the pipeline alliance that Israel is trying to secure is clearly aimed at boxing Turkey into a corner in its own territorial waters.

At present, Ankara and Nicosia are in the midst of a heated row regarding rights to offshore gas fields in the waters off the island of Cyprus. At present, while there is no realistic plan for Nicosia to militarily enter the Turkish North of the divided island, Nicosia is opposed to Turkish plans to begin extracting gas in the waters off of the disputed territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (aka Northern Cyprus). To put it another way, in spite of rhetoric to the contrary, the government in Nicosia clearly cares about controlling the waters off of Cyprus more than it cares about controlling the island’s total landmass.

But far from being just a new chapter in the age old Hellenic-Turkish disputes of the region, this particular conflict is also being driven by Israel whose government is keen to see Tel Aviv, Nicosia and Athens work jointly on an East Med pipeline that excludes Turkey while at the same time impinging on offshore territory that Turkey claims it has an inalienable right to exploit. Now, Israel looks to bolster these plans which have already seen Egypt pivoting ever closer to Tel Aviv and Nicosia by also drawing Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania into the project.

When one remembers that during the ultimately brief Turkish-Israeli rapprochement of 2016, there were talks of a joint gas project between Tel Aviv and Ankara, the underpinnings of the present conflict become all the more clear.

To further understand the background of the severe downgrade in Turko-Israeli relations that has now become a rivalry for energy supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean, it is important to understand the following that was originally published in Eurasia Future in May of last year:

“The Turkish government has just announced the effective expulsion of Eitan Na’eh, Israel’s Ambassador to Ankara. According to the Daily Sabah,

‘Na’eh was asked to leave Turkey indefinitely by the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs following the Israeli bloodshed and his tweets’.

Pipeline politics no more

Against this background, erstwhile plans for a Turkey to Israel East Mediterranean pipeline have stalled. As a result, Tel Aviv has pivoted closer to Turkey’s regional rival Egypt (which has said next to nothing about Palestine in recent days), while most importantly there is now talk of an EU sponsored East Mediterranean pipeline between Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy.

According to a report from New Europe,

“The EastMed gas pipeline would circumvent Turkey, which has increased tensions with Cyprus, Greece and Israel recently, providing a way to transport newly discovered gas supplies from the East Mediterranean to Europe. The talks in Nicosia in May[2018] follow a memorandum of understanding regarding the EastMed pipeline, which was signed in December.

According to the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA), the EastMed will connect the recently discovered gas fields in the Levantine Basin, in the southeast Mediterranean, with mainland Greece and is projected to carry 8-14 billion cubic meters per year of natural gas to Greece and Europe.

According to DEPA, the approximately 1900 kilometer long pipeline (700 kilometers on-shore, 1200 off-shore) consists of the three following main sections, as well as compressor stations located in Cyprus and Crete: a pipeline from the fields to Cyprus, a pipeline connecting Cyprus to Crete, and a pipeline from Crete crossing mainland Greece up to the Ionian coast.

From there the EastMed can link up with the offshore Poseidon pipeline enabling the delivery of additional diversified sources from the Levantine to Italy and beyond. The EastMed pipeline is preliminarily designed to have exit points in Cyprus, Crete, and mainland Greece as well as the connection point with the Poseidon pipeline”.

The deal to create such a pipeline was sealed in December of 2017 while glowing reports from pro-EU media touted the deal as a means of allowing Europe to decrease its dependence on Russian gas while also offering Israel a chance to swap Turkey for EU partners. As Turkey’s long paralytic bid to join the EU is now de-facto over, both Europe and Israel’s cooperation over a new East Mediterranean gas pipeline has the effect of drawing Russia and Turkey into an even closer partnership than the one they are currently in.

At the moment the Turkstream pipeline designed to bring Russian gas into Europe via Turkey is a major joint project between Moscow and Ankara. Now, both the EU and Israel are looking to challenge this route with a pipeline of their own in a similar region. In reality, there is enough demand for gas in Europe and Israel to mean that both pipelines can coexist, but the geopolitical optics are clear enough. Tel Aviv has joined forces with the most anti-Ankara states in the EU in order to cut Turkey out of Israel’s future.

The importance of Turkey’s Soft Power in the Sunni Muslim world

President Erdoğan has already proved himself to be the ‘Sultan of Soft Power’ in the wider Sunni Muslim world. Without clear leadership from Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Qatar and with Saddam’s always controversial Iraqi government long out of power, Erdoğan has positioned himself as a champion for Palestine not only in Turkey and the Sunni Arab world but beyond. Because of this, one should never underestimate how far Turkey will take its support of Palestine vis-a-vis Tel Aviv, not least because the more Erdoğan voices his opinions in support of Palestine, the more he is respected and supported both in Turkey and far beyond.

Israel supporting Turkey’s main rivals 

Because Israel has taken clear moves away from Turkey and towards its hated Hellenic rivals, officials in Ankara who in the past may have been hesitant to sever ties with Tel Aviv because of economic considerations may now be much closer to doing so. Israel’s intensifying military cooperation with both Greece and Cyprus are a further sign that when it comes to Turkey, Tel Aviv is doing everything in its power to replace its once healthy Turkish partnership with that of countries with notoriously poor and always heated relations with Ankara.

Then there is the issue of Kurdish ethno-nationalism in both Syria and Iraq. Uniquely in the world, the United States and Israel are supporters of Kurdish separatism both in northern Syria and northern Iraq.  President Erdoğan has already made it clear that this is one of several red lines that Israel can cross in respect of maintaining even semi-normal relations. During the attempted illegal Kurdish succession from Iraq in the autumn of 2017, Erdoğan posed the following rhetorical statements to Kurdish secessionists in Iraq,

“Who will recognize your independence? Israel. The world is not about Israel?…

…“You should know that the waving of Israeli flags there will not save you!”

Conclusion 

In order to connect these dots, one must ask some vital questions:

1. Why is the US treating its longstanding NATO partner Turkey much worse than it is treating its new Indian partner over the purchase of the same Russian made S-400 defensive weapons?

2. With Turkey and Israel competing for regional soft power influence, regional influence in respect of gas pipelines and competing in respect of building new diplomatic alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean, could Israel be preparing options to lead military assaults on Turkish assets (perhaps in Cyprus) and as such fears Turkey’s ownership of F-35 as well as S-400s?

3. As Russia is both an Israel and Turkish ally, is Tel Aviv attempting to use the US to pressure Turkey to choose between its Russian and American partners knowing that Moscow will not do so?

4. As Israel owns F-35s but not S-400s, is Tel Aviv worried that if Turkey had both, it would be able to seriously counter possible Israeli aerial bombardments against Turkish assets in the wider region?

When one looks at the overall state of Turkey-Israel relations and what Israeli officials have themselves said about Turkey and the F-35s, it begins to become ever more apparent that the F-35/S-400 issue is as much if not more about Tel Aviv than it is about the neo-Cold War between Washington [and Russia].

Now that the US Senate is openly endorsing the Tel Aviv-Nicosia-Athens gas and security partnership, there can be little doubt that a new anti-Turkish alliance is being built in the eastern Mediterranean that is centred on Israel and supported by the United States.

April 10, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel, Greece to Build Radar on Crete Amid Rapprochement– Reports

Sputnik – March 19, 2019

The Long Horizon marine radar system will be built by Israel and Greece in eastern Crete, the Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports. The enhanced coverage of the radar will allow both countries to monitor the Eastern Mediterranean basin. The daily has not disclosed the cost of the project, saying only that it is “not insignificant,” especially taking into account Greece’s reduced military budget.

According to the outlet, Athens and Tel Aviv have been drifting together recently, boosting their military ties among other things. Greece has recently agreed with Israel to share know-how for its navy, which has begun to develop. According to the outlet, 40 Israeli probationers will be carried by a Greek transporter from Haifa to Crete, without any stops in Cyprus, by the end of the month. The Israelis will join the Greek forces during upcoming drills and then return to Haifa after a stop in Milos and Rhodes.

On the other hand, Athens has been open to the possibility of bolstering its arms gaps with the help of Israel, as Kathimerini noted. Among other things, Greece has rented seven drones from Israel for search and rescue operations.

Israel’s Haaretz reports that Cyprus also shares the Israeli interests in the region. The list of common interests includes a stance on the situation in Syria and Lebanon as well as uneasy relations with Turkey.

Apart from military and political cooperation, which is to be confirmed during an upcoming trilateral Greek-Israeli-Cypriot summit with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the three countries are developing a major economic project — the undersea East Med pipeline, designed to deliver natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean to Europe via Greece and Cyprus. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades are expected to sign the grand deal, agreed upon in 2018, within the month, as the Greek media earlier reported.

The 2,000-kilometre underwater pipeline is intended to have a capacity of 12 billion cubic metres of gas annually, delivering fuel from Israel’s Leviathan, named one of the largest young gas reserves in the world, and the Aphrodite offshore gas fields. Additionally, the venture was boosted in February when it was announced that large gas deposits had been discovered in Cyprus.

The line, which is almost twice as long as Russia’s Turk Stream pipeline, is estimated to cost $8 billion and is said to be the world’s deepest underwater gas pipeline. Egypt, the only Muslim nation besides Jordan that has a peace treaty with Israel, is also seeking to export its newly discovered gas reserves, and has expressed interest in joining the project.

March 19, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

By Viktor Katona | Oilprice.com | December 28, 2018

Things have been quite active in the Eastern Mediterranean lately, with Israel, Cyprus and Greece pushing forward for the realization of the EastMed pipeline, a new gas conduit destined to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and find a long-term reliable market outlet for all the recent Mediterranean gas discoveries. The three sides have reached an agreement in late November (roughly a year after signing the MoU) to lay the pipeline, the estimated cost of which hovers around $7 billion (roughly the same as rival TurkStream’s construction cost). Yet behind the brave facade, it is still very early to talk about EastMed as a viable and profitable project as it faces an uphill battle with traditionally difficult Levantine geopolitics, as well as field geology.

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland. Since most of its subsea section is projected to be laid at depths of 3-3.5 kilometer, in case it is built it would become the deepest subsea gas pipeline, most probably the longest, too, with an estimated length of 1900km. The countries involved proceed from the premise that the pipeline’s throughput capacity would be 20 BCM per year (706 BCf), although previous estimates were within the 12-16 BCm per year interval. According to Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, the stakeholders would need a year to iron out all the remaining administrative issues and 4-5 years to build the pipeline, meaning it could come onstream not before 2025.

The idea of EastMed was first flaunted around 2009-2010 as the first more or less substantial gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Tamar gas field in Israel’s offshore zone, paved the way for speculations about an impending gas boom. Then came the 535 BCm (18.9 TCf) Leviathan in 2010 and the 850 BCm (30 TCf) Zohr discovery in offshore Egypt five years later and suddenly it seemed that an Eastern Mediterranean gas expansion is inevitable. Yet over the years, the operators of Leviathan have already allocated part of their total gas volumes to domestic power generating companies and most notably NEPCO, the Jordanian electric power company (1.6-2BCm per year). Egypt has been concentrating on meeting domestic needs and getting rid of LNG imports, moreover once it bounces back to gas exporter status in 2019, it will only use its own 2 LNG terminals in Damietta and Idku. Related: Has Oil Hit Rock Bottom?

Thus, a pertinent question arises – whose gas would be used to fill the EastMed pipeline? If the pipeline starts in offshore Cyprus, then it would be logical to expect that Cyprus’ gas bounty would be somehow utilized. Yet Cyprus has been lagging behind Egypt and Israel in its offshore endeavors and so far lacks a clear-cut giant field to base its supply future on. The two discoveries appraised heretofore, the 6-8 TCf Calypso operated by ENI and the 4.5 TCf Aphrodite operated by Noble Energy, are not enough to support the construction of a relatively expensive gas pipeline – all the more so as Noble has signed a provisional deal to send Aphrodite gas to Egypt’s Idku LNG terminal, most likely by means of a subsea gas pipeline. If we are to judge the viability of the EastMed on the current situation, there is only Calypso and Israel to fill the pipeline, as Greece’s gas export plans are close to zero on the probability scale.

The subsea section from Cyprus’ offshore zone to the island of Crete lies in depths of 3km and is stretched across a seismically active zone. But there is even more – should Turkey claim rights on Cyprus’ offshore hydrocarbon deposits (in February 2018 it sent warships to scare away ENI’s drilling rig that was on its way to xxx), the project is all but dead. This is far from an implausible scenario as President Erdogan stated that Turkey would never allow for the extortion of natural resources in the East Mediterranean by means of excluding Ankara and Northern Cyprus. Cognizant of the risks inherent in an East Mediterranean gas pipeline, there has been no interest from oil and gas majors to participate in the project. This is worrying as the $7 billion are expected to be financed from private investors, of which there is a palpable dearth – despite the EU’s 35 million funding to promote what it sees as a Project of Common Interest. Related: Wall Street Sees Oil Price Recovery In 2019

Yet even for the European Union, the EastMed gas pipeline presents a bit of a headache as its commissioning would render the Southern Gas Corridor, comprising so far only of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) with a 10 BCm per year throughput capacity, irrelevant by creating a sort-of competitor. The price of the natural gas to be supplied via the EastMed pipeline might become the biggest obstacle of them all – if the cost of producing offshore Mediterranean gas turns out to be $4-5/MMBtu as expected, the addition of further transportation costs to it all would place EastMed supplied at the bottom range of European gas supply options (Russian gas supply is alleged to be profitable with price levels as low as $4/MMbtu). All this might change if any of the East Mediterranean countries were to discover a giant gas field, altering the economics of production or possibly even liquefaction.

In fact, 2019 will witness several key wells being drilled across Cyprus, Egypt and possibly even Israel. ExxonMobil’s testing of Block 10 in offshore Cyprus would largely point to the overall attractiveness of Cyprus as an oil and gas producing country – the drilling has already started, with results expected in Q1 2019. The ENI-operated Noor offshore field in Egypt, adjacent to Zohr, is a much hotter prospect with BP buying into it lately – most likely it will outshine all the other drilling sites in the Eastern Mediterranean, however, if a big discovery is confirmed, it would be most likely used for Egyptian purposes which run counter to the EastMed gas pipeline. Thus, EastMed’s only hope is that Israel 2nd international licensing round, results to be announced in July 2019, will elicit a couple of Leviathan-like finds that would make pipeline construction profitable. Until then, the prospects are rather bleak.

January 4, 2019 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

UAE to invest in Israeli plan to pipe gas to Europe

Press TV – November 25, 2018

The media in Tel Aviv have reported that the UAE has invested as much as $100 million in an ambitious Israeli project to pipe natural gas to Europe.

The investment would be made by a company based in Abu Dhabi for a pipeline project which is internationally known to be unique given its record length as well as the extreme depths it would be laid toward Europe, Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen quoted Israeli media as reporting.

The agreement has been described as “historic” by Israeli media, al-Mayadeen added.

Israel has signed a multilateral deal over the scheme – called the East Med Pipeline Project – with Greece, Italy and Cyprus. The European Union also supports the project.

The East Med Pipeline Project is to start about 170 kilometers (105 miles) off Cyprus’s southern coast and stretch for 2,200 kilometers (1,350 miles) to reach Otranto, Italy, via Crete and the Greek mainland, according to a report by The Times of Israel news website.

The pipeline will have the capacity to carry up to 20 billion cubic meters (706 billion cubic feet) of gas from Israeli fields each year. Europe’s gas import needs are projected to increase by 100 billion cubic meters (3.5 billion cubic feet) annually by 2030.

Work on the project is expected to begin within a few months, and to conclude within five years.

UAE’s investment in the project could trigger protests in the Muslim world. The Emirates has already taken moves to approach Tel Aviv with speculations recently emerging that it has even involved itself in certain military operations by Israel on Gaza.

Last December, Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said a study on the project showed that the project is feasible, even though it presents technical challenges due to the depths involved and has an estimated cost of 6.2 billion euro ($7.36 billion).

Israel has already engaged in disputes with Lebanon over tapping into Mediterranean energy resources.

Last February, Israel described as “very provocative” a Lebanese tender for projects in two of its 10 offshore blocks in the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel itself has long been developing a number of offshore gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea, with the Tamar gas field, with proven reserves of 200 billion cubic meters, already producing gas, while the larger Leviathan field is expected to go online in the coming months.

A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2012 that Israel’s natural gas reserves were worth around $130 billion. A Business Week estimate later that year put the reserves’ value at $240 billion.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt, Cyprus sign accord to build gas pipeline

MEMO | September 20, 2018

Egypt yesterday signed an agreement with Cyprus to construct a maritime pipeline between the two countries, which will transfer of natural gas from Cyprus to Egypt for re-export to different markets, especially the European Union (EU) countries.

The agreement was signed in a meeting held in Cyprus between the Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Tarek El-Molla, and the Cypriot minister of Energy, Industry, Tourism and Trades, Georgios Lakkotrypis.

The project, which was said to cost around $800 million, will involve building a pipeline to transfer natural gas from Cypriot Aphrodite field to Egypt’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.

El-Molla said that the agreement contributes “to boosting the economic relations between Egypt and Cyprus and is considered as an important step in maximising the benefit of the discoveries of the Cypriot gas fields.”

“The Egyptian-Cypriot agreement is not only about the implementation of a maritime pipeline, but it will contribute positively to securing gas supplies to the EU,” he added.

The deal, El-Molla reiterated, will encourage further research exploration activities in the region and will contribute to further support joint cooperation in the field of oil and gas between the two countries.

Referring to another memorandum of understanding, which was signed between Egypt and the EU in the field of energy last April, the Egyptian minister stressed that it “will open up important prospects for the role that Egypt can play in the industry.”

On his part, Lakkotrypis said that the deal was “an important milestone, not only for Cyprus but also the entire eastern Mediterranean region,” adding that “it’s [the joint agreement] the first of its kind in Cyprus and Egypt’s shared region.”

September 20, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment