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Will the US use Greece to block Russia in the Black Sea?

By Paul Antonopoulos | September 18, 2019

The Trump administration last week made its first major step to create a Greek-centric NATO corridor following United States Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, announcement that his country intends to acquire the strategic port of Alexandroupoli. If Athens is to accept such a proposal, the country would be contributing to a geopolitical escalation. The US is attempting to push Greece, a traditional rival to Turkey, closer to them at a time when Ankara continues to defy NATO by strengthening its relations with Russia.

The port of Alexandroupoli is of particular importance to US policy in not only the Balkans, but especially to Russia. It is also an important energy route as the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline and the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is in the region. The port is also important for transportation as it is strategically located close to the Turkish-controlled Dardanelles that connects the Aegean/Mediterranean Seas with the Black Sea, and therefore Russia.

With the acquisition of this port, NATO and US forces may be in the Balkans in only a few hours and can easily stop Russian trade with the world via the Black Sea by blockading the Dardanelles. With Turkey increasingly defying NATO – in which Greece is also a member state of – by improving relations with Russia and buying the S-400, the US can make Greece more aligned with it under the guise of ensuring Greece’s security.

Turkey violates Greece’s maritime and air space on a daily basis, Erdogan makes continued threats to invade the rest of Cyprus. Only weeks ago he made a speech in front of a map that shows Greece’s eastern Mediterranean islands occupied by Turkey, and days ago Turkey removed the inhabited Greek island of Kastellorizo from online maps to claim sovereignty over oil and gas reserves, while continuing threats to flood Greece again with illegal immigrants, among others. Greece undoubtably has an extremely aggressive neighbour.

With Turkey illegally occupying large areas of northern Syria and Cyprus, and illegally intervening in Iraq, Greece must deal with an extremely provocative and expansionist-driven neighbour. With Russia traditionally remaining silent on Turkish provocations towards Greece, it is unlikely that Moscow will stop doing so now that relations are flourishing between the two Black Sea neighbours.

The US are trying to capitalize on Erdogan’s aggression towards Greece by attempting to pivot Athens towards them. If the Greek leadership decide to accept the US offer, it will be a powerful blow towards Turkish expansionism in the Aegean and will create a major security threat for Russia. As Greece is a rival of Turkey, the fact it prioritized creating a powerful navy and air force that could block the Dardanelles if needed, might embolden Greece to take direct actions against Turkey’s continued aggressions and threats.

Despite Greece being an economically ruined country today with a demographic crisis, it still maintains high military standards. This is reflected with Greece having the best pilots in NATO, in which Turkey is also a member of. In maritime matters, Greece has a far superior navy and experience in the Aegean. The Greek Navy has a long tradition and has never been defeated in combat. For this reason, Greece’s navy is one of the most important world naval powers today, at a military and commercial level. Although Turkey’s army makes it one of the largest in the world, it is rendered useless in any war with Greece. Although Greece has a significant maritime border with Turkey, the land border is only 200km long, making it easy to fortify.

With security against Turkey’s continued aggression being a major priority for Greece, the US ambassador is trying to woo the country into allowing the privatization of the port of Alexandroupoli. He stated: “Alexandroupoli is a crucial link to European energy security, regional stability, and economic growth, so it makes sense that the United States and Greece have chosen here to work together to advance our shared security and economic interests.”

With his emphasis on security, it will likely spark huge debates in Athens as it needs security assurances but will also not want to provoke Russia, a country that Greeks see with fraternity when remembering their shared Christian Orthodox faith and Russia’s military and diplomatic role in securing Greece’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. Although Russia is unlikely to back one side or another, a US-controlled port in Alexandroupoli can significantly weaken Russia’s Black Sea capabilities.

If comments by the National Defense Minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, of the newly elected neoliberal government is anything to go by, it can be expected that Athens will allow Alexandroupoli to become a US-controlled port. He said that the “use of the port by the US Armed Forces” will be allowed “when there is [certainly] a need” for it, especially as Greece’s current “strategic defense relationship with the US and cooperation” are strengthened, “thereby contributing to regional stability and security.” In direct reference to Turkey, he also said “Greece is ready at any time and moment to defend and safeguard in full its sovereign rights.”

In order to avoid a US naval base on the other side of the Dardanelles, Russia should take a position it has proven to be capable of, and something the US lacks experience in- peacebuilding. If Russia can act as a mediator between Greek and Turkey, it might be enough to avoid Athens pivoting towards the US so that it can ensure its security. Russia has proven in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere that it is willing to serve as a mediator in international affairs. With Moscow currently having amicable relations with Ankara, Russia being viewed positively by the majority of Greeks, being a regional country to both Greece and Turkey, and having its owned vested interests in the region, Russia is in a unique position to be able to mediate mutually to find a lasting peace between Greece and Turkey, and to prevent the US acquiring the port of Alexandroupoli.

Paul Antonopoulos is the director of the Multipolarity research centre.

September 18, 2019 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 3 Comments

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

70 Years On – Did CIA Cover Up Identity of US Journalist George Polk’s Killers?

Sputnik – April 18, 2019

On 21 April 1949 Gregoris Staktopoulos, a Greek reporter, was convicted after a nine-day show trial of murdering US journalist George Polk at the height of the Greek Civil War. But mystery still shrouds his death.

The body of George Polk, 34, was found floating in Salonika Bay in northern Greece in May 1948.

He had been tied up and had a single bullet wound to the back of the head.

Polk, a former pilot who fought for the US in the Second World War, was on assignment with the CBS network covering the Greek Civil War.

In 1946 a civil war broke out in Greece with the communist KKE seeking to take control of the country, which had only recently been liberated after occupation by the forces of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

​All across eastern Europe communists, backed by the Soviet Union and the Red Army, took over.

The Athens government, which was dominated by conservative and pro-Nazi sympathisers, many of whom had collaborated with the German and Italian occupiers, was supported by the British because of the fear of Greece, with its strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean, falling into pro-Soviet hands.

In 1947, the Labour government of Clement Attlee, struggling to rebuild the British economy after the devastation of the Second World War, asked the Americans to take over in Greece, Turkey and several other countries where the Soviets challenged the interests of the West.

​The US President launched the eponymous Truman Doctrine, which stated that the Americans would not allow any more nations in Europe or the Middle East fall into the hands of communists.

President Truman donated arms and equipment to the Greek government fighting the KKE and the CIA was heavily involved in infiltrating the enemy and left-wing circles which were sympathetic to the KKE.

Polk hoped to get a major exclusive for CBS by getting an interview with the KKE leadership, who were based in the mountainous terrain north of Salonika.

He ended up dead and the George Polk journalism awards were named in his memory.

The narrative put forward by the Greek government and its US allies was that he had been killed by the communists.

Gregoris Staktopoulos, a local journalist, was made a scapegoat and after a brief trial he was jailed for his alleged role in Polk’s death.

He was quietly released from prison in 1961 and died in 1988.

But in 1990 Kati Marton, a former foreign correspondent, wrote a book, The Polk Conspiracy, in which she claimed Polk had angered the Greek government and its CIA allies, which had him killed.

Polk had also alleged Greek government officials had embezzled US$250,000 in foreign aid from the Truman Administration.

After the murder Staktopoulos was tortured and forced into giving a confession that he had lured Polk into a communist trap.

In 2013 documents were filed with the Appeal Court in Salonika, seeking to posthumously overturn Staktopoulos’s conviction.

In his book Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage, Bill Waller claimed Donovan, the head of the OSS — which later morphed into the CIA — was in Greece at the time and turned a blind eye to the miscarriage of justice because of the Cold War.

“Who killed George Polk, remains a mystery but the evidence clearly points to someone besides Staktopoulos and the communists. Donovan however saw Greece as a crucial battle between the United States and Russia. Prosecuting rightists for the crime would be a setback for that war. In his mind now, the communists had to be guilty,” wrote Waller.

After their defeat in 1949 many KKE fighters, including the organisation’s leader Nikos Zachariadis went to live in Yugoslavia or the Soviet Union.

During the 1950s, 60s and 70s there were suggestions Polk was murdered by the British, by the CIA or even by smugglers and black marketeers.

In 2007 it emerged the CIA had conveniently lost most of its archives relating to the Polk case.

The only document ever released by the CIA was a 1956 memoranda which claimed two Greek former communists who had just returned to Greece from the Soviet Union claimed they had heard two men confessing to being Polk’s assassins.

The Polk family asked the National Security Archive to write to the CIA and review all its documents on the case.

The CIA wrote back to say nine documents, including memoranda to the agency’s director, had been destroyed.

“We are unable to locate the original documents or information about their disposition,” Dr Allen Weinstein, archivist of the United States, wrote to the National Security Archive.

April 19, 2019 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , | 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

Russian oil expert detained at Kiev’s request in Greece, lawyer calls arrest ‘politicized’

RT | March 3, 2019

A Russian national has been arrested in Greece and faces extradition to Ukraine on tax-crime charges. His lawyer said he is being persecuted for supporting the former Ukrainian president who was ousted in a Western-backed coup.

Evgeny Kalinin, a Russian energy expert, was arrested by the Greek authorities at Athens International Airport on Thursday, his lawyer, Yannis Rahiotis, told Sputnik.

Kalinin is a well-known oil industry expert, Rahiotis said, noting that his client was on a routine business trip to the country at the time. Kalinin appeared in court on Friday, when he was sent to prison until Ukraine’s extradition request is delivered to Athens.

According to Rahiotis, Kalinin faces unspecified tax-crime charges, which allegedly arise from his past work as a top executive in Ukraine’s oil company.

Kalinin served as vice president of TNK-BP Commerce, a Kiev-based company that specializes in producing and selling crude oil products in Ukraine and Russia, until 2011. The company, which was founded in 2003, also operates a network of gasoline and filling stations in Ukraine.

While the essence of the charges Kalinin is facing are not yet clear, Rahiotis believes they are politically motivated. The lawyer pointed out that Kalinin’s name has been included in a database of the notorious Ukrainian website Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper). The ultra-nationalist site contains a blacklist of ‘traitors’ who it says must be dealt with. On the list, Kalinin has found himself in the company of such big foreign political names as former German chancellor Gerhard Shroeder, who was added to the ‘hit-list’ in November, prompting the German Foreign Ministry to reprimand Kiev for not taking down the website.

“This case is a political one. Kalinin is included into the Mirotvorets list. He is being persecuted because he was a supporter of former president Victor Yanukovich,” Rahiotis said.

Russian diplomats have been in contact with Kalinin, and have been providing him “with all necessary consular assistance,” the Russian Embassy in Greece said, as cited by Sputnik.

Kalinin’s arrest has already drawn condemnation from a senior Russian lawmaker.

The deputy head of the Russian Senate Defense and Security Committee, Franz Klintsevich, has said that by playing into the Kiev’s hands, Athens is undermining its centuries-old relationship with Russia, which has traditionally been an ally.

“It’s still not late to stop. Russia will do everything to free Evgeny Kalinin,” he wrote on Facebook.

Another State Duma MP, Natalia Poklonskaya, argued that Kalinin’s arrest is likely to be politicized and exploited in the ongoing Ukrainian presidential campaign. She also warned Greece against becoming a pawn in a third party’s hands by simply following formal legal guidelines.

March 3, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 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

US Blocks $199Mln in Assets Belonging to Iran, Syria, N Korea in 2017 – Treasury

Sputnik – 07.11.2018

WASHINGTON – The United States blocked nearly $200 million in assets belonging to Syria, Iran, and North Korea in 2017 as a result of the sanctions imposed on the three countries, the Treasury Department said in its annual report to Congress released on Wednesday.

“Approximately $199 million in assets relating to the three designated state sponsors of terrorism in 2017 have been identified by OFAC as blocked pursuant to economic sanctions imposed by the United States,” the report said.

The statement comes days after the US fully reinstated sanctions against Iran, including measures that curb Tehran’s oil industry. At the same time, the United States temporarily exempted eight nations — China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — from the sanctions on importing oil from Iran.

In May, US President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and reimpose sanctions against Tehran that were previously lifted under the accord, including secondary restrictions.

The first round of the US sanctions was reimposed in August, while the second round, targeting over 700 Iranian individuals, entities, banks, aircraft and vessels, came into force this week.

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Background of Russia-Greek Summit in December: Greek Defense Chief Makes Landmark Foreign Policy Proposals

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.10.2018

Greece’s Defense Minister Panos Kammenos visited the United States on October 9 to make two proposals that would change a lot if accepted: a new Balkans military alliance and substantial expanding of US military presence in the country. The latter includes setting up three military bases in Larissa, in Volos, in Alexandroupolis on a more permanent basis. The regional defense alliance, formed to diminish “Russia’s influence”, is to comprise Greece, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Bulgaria, and later Serbia. “I want to affirm that Greece considers the United States a strategic partner and ally… the only one, I dare to say,” he said during the meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis. “It is very important for Greece that the United States deploy military assets in Greece on a more permanent basis, not only in Souda Bay but also in Larissa, in Volos, in Alexandropoulis,” he added.

In the spring of 2018, the US began operating MQ-9 Reaper drones out of Greece’s Larisa Air Force Base. The American-Greek defense cooperation agenda includes the extension of the agreement for the use of the US naval base in Souda Bay, Crete, the upgrading of the Greek fleet of F-16 military jets and the plans to build a second military base in southern Crete. The United States and Greece are reportedly discussing the creation of a military base on the island of Karpathos in the South Aegean Sea, between Rhodes and Crete. According to the plans, the island will host US Patriot air defense missile systems and F-22 Raptor fighters. US F-35 will be stationed in Volos, F-16 in Andravia, while F-15 are already in Souda airbase in Crete.

As the relationship with Turkey continues to deteriorate, Greece acquires a more significant military role for the United States in the Mediterranean as well as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The Wall Street Journal reported last month, “the US military is in talks to expand its operations in Greece, including using more air and naval bases here, signaling a potential move toward the eastern Mediterranean amid growing tensions with Turkey.” According to the source, US officials who had visited Greece not long before the publication said both the government and the opposition were receptive to strengthening military ties. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, believes that the “geography of Greece and the opportunities here are pretty significant.”

A military alliance of Greek Cyprus, Israel and Greece, Eastern Mediterranean Alliance (EMA), has actually been formed. Greece and Israel have a military cooperation agreement in place since 2015. The military ties between Cyprus and Israel are also expanding. After a trilateral conference held in Larnaca in June, defense chiefs of the three countries pledged to expand cooperation on cyber-security, joint military drills and search and rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean. The three also visited the US together in May. Last month, the United States opened its first permanent military facility in Israel.

The US has recently changed its Syria policy, including the support of the Kurds that angers Turkey so much. With the tariffs and sanctions war unleashed by Washington against Ankara, it appears to have nothing to lose. The United States is considering permanent cuts to its military presence in Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey, a strategic point for its military operations in Syria. This possibility is very real as several pro-government Turkish lawyers have reportedly filed charges against US Air Force officers associated with the base, alleging they are connected to those who staged the attempted coup d’état against Turkey’s government in 2016.

Greece wants Alexandroupolis to become a hub for the gas being exported from Israel via Cyprus, Crete and Greece to Italy. The route will bypass Turkey, which is adamant in its desire to prevent such a scenario. It says part of the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus is under Turkish jurisdiction. A conflict is possible and the EMA partners want the US to be on their side. America needs the allies too as it strives to increase its clout in the Middle East. Libya is among the countries it wants to control, while rolling Russia back. The United States needs military support, especially bases, as it has decided to stay in Syria “until Iran withdraws its forces”. The growing military cooperation between the EMA alliance and the US reflects nothing else but war preparations.

In summer, Greece expelled two Russian diplomats accused of attempting to instill opposition to the agreement in order to prevent Macedonia’s NATO membership. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov subsequently canceled a planned visit to Athens. All these trends and events create certain background before the visit of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Russia scheduled on Dec. 7 (it had been previously planned for Dec.12). The two countries have always been friends and close partners but the announced plans to turn Greece into a US aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean is a matter of concern and not only for Moscow.

October 13, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lavrov: Russia’s Sovereignty to Be Defended Despite US Missile Defense Worldwide

Sputnik – 30.07.2018

Russia is guaranteed to be provided with information on the plans that the US military and other states have in mind for it, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated while speaking to participants at the Russian Youth Educational Forum “Territory of Meanings.”

“Whatever happens in the world, our security as a state, the security of our citizens, our sovereignty will be most securely protected. This has been repeatedly confirmed by President Vladimir Putin, and I assure you that this is based on real, material changes that are taking place in our country and in our army, “the minister said.

The US impedes the development of rules of behavior in cyberspace in the UN, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

“We have been suggesting to develop rules for responsible behavior in cyberspace at the UN for a long time. There are no rules right now, as you know. The country that impedes it is the United States,” Lavrov pointed out. “This is not surprising, because the United States has a dominant position in general with regard to Internet governance.”

Russia-US relations have been tense amid an ongoing arms race and a ban on military cooperation between US and Russian forces.

In May, the US House of Representatives passed a whopping $717 billion annual defense spending bill for the 2019 fiscal year.

No Doubts Greece Decided to Expel Russian Diplomats Under Severe Pressure

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that he had no doubts that Greece had taken a decision to expel Russian diplomats under severe pressure.

“We have already commented on [the expulsion of Russian diplomats from] Greece. I can just say once again that we have no reason to doubt that these decisions were made under the severe pressure of those who want to turn any country anti-Russian,” Lavrov said at a youth forum.

Earlier in July, the Greek Kathimerini newspaper reported that Athens had decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban two more from entering the country over national security concerns. The accusations against the diplomatic workers were strongly refuted by Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrey Maslov, who called them “absurd.”

July 30, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , | Leave a comment

Not just the Elgin Marbles: Britain’s colonial legacy lives long in UK museums

Benin bronzes. © Global Look Press
RT | June 4, 2018

After Jeremy Corbyn promised to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece upon becoming PM on the basis that they were “looted” from the country, RT looks at other rare artifacts taken by colonial Britain that now reside in UK museums.

“As with anything stolen or taken from occupied or colonial possession – including artifacts looted from other countries in the past – we should be engaged in constructive talks with the Greek government about returning the sculptures,” Corbyn said in an interview with a Greek newspaper.

If Corbyn were to become PM, here are some of the other artifacts that might be returned to their country of origin.

Benin artefacts

The British Museum boasts the second-biggest collection of Benin’s art after the Ethnological Museum in Berlin.

The Kingdom of Benin – now part of Nigeria – was stripped of its bronzes during what became known as Britain’s “punitive expedition,” a mission conducted against the natives after they defied imperial rule by imposing customs duties.

BBC Civilizations presenter David Olusoga, originally from Nigeria, said the UK has a “moral imperative” to return the art.

On the Benin looting, he said: “It’s just such a stark case of theft.”

He added during the Hay Festival this year: “A friend of mine, a TV producer, once came up with a brilliant solution: he said we should have a special version of Supermarket Sweep, where every country is given a huge shopping trolley and two minutes in the British Museum. Maybe he’s right, maybe that’s the way forward.”

Ethiopian treasures

Dozens of institutions up and down the country, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, are home to hundreds of northeast Africa’s finest treasures.

Beautiful and equally important manuscripts and artifacts were plundered after the British capture of Maqdala in 1868, the mountain capital of what was then Abyssinia under Emperor Tewodros II.

In 2017, Ethiopia lodged a formal restitution complaint. The offer was refused, but ahead of the Maqdala exhibition at the V&A at the beginning of April, its director suggested the case could be settled by granting the treasures to the east-African country on a long-term loan.

Sultanganj Buddha

The Sultaganj Buddha is a metallic sculpture that was extracted from an abandoned Buddhist monastery in northern India in 1861 by E B Harris, a British Raj railway engineer. The 1,500-year-old bronze Buddha was then shipped to Birmingham after being secured for a mere £200 ($265).

The item – the largest known Indian metal sculpture, which is known in the UK as the ‘Birmingham Buddha’ – is at the top of the list of thousands of alleged ‘stolen treasures’ that Indian authorities are trying to get back.

The Koh-i-Noor diamond

The Koh-i-Noor diamond, one of the largest cut in the world, is currently part of the British crown jewels. It has been the subject of a bitter dispute between India and the UK ever since it was taken from the Punjab and presented to Queen Victoria in 1849.

The jewel, which belonged to the Punjab’s Sikh Empire, was handed by the East Indian Company to Queen Victoria after they emerged victorious in the 1840s Anglo-Sikh wars.

The diamond – known as the Mountain of Light – is thought to have been mined in the 1300s.

India has called for the stone to be returned ever since it gained independence in 1947, though the UK claims it has a legal basis for withholding it, as it was guaranteed under the Treaty of Lahore.

Former PM David Cameron commented on the dispute, stating: “If you say yes to one you suddenly find the British Museum would be empty. I think I’m afraid to say, to disappoint all your viewers, it’s going to have to say put.”

June 4, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment