Will Turkey Foil Plans to Turn Israel and Its Neighbors into Major Suppliers of Natural Gas to Europe?

In 2009, large fields of natural gas were discovered below Israel’s coastal waters; in the subsequent years, researchers concluded that these were part of a massive deposit of gas and petroleum in the eastern Mediterranean, distributed among the territorial waters of Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and Greece. Egypt and Israel have already begun exploiting these reserves, and Israel in particular is eager to join with Cyprus, Greece, and Italy in a major project—known as the East Med pipeline—that could export these fossil fuels to Europe, thereby relieving the EU of its reliance on Russia. But playing the role of spoiler is Turkey, motivated by its historic conflicts with Greece and Cyprus, its more recent hostility toward Israel, and its growing economic and diplomatic ties with Moscow—which include cooperation in the export of fuel. John Psaropoulos explains:

The key attraction of East Med is stability. It would be a risk-free, intra-EU route carrying committed volumes of gas to Europe for a quarter-century. Europe would in turn be a reliable client, in contrast to cash-poor regional economies [such as Jordan]. “We used to seek out investors in East Med. Now they are seeking us out,” says [Kostas Karayannakos, the executive director of gas supply for Greece’s public gas corporation].

For Karayannakos, the pipeline brings tremendous geopolitical advantages. . . . It is precisely this vision—of a pipeline that circumvents its exclusive economic zone, turns Cypriot energy interests into European energy interests, elevates the importance of Greece in the EU, and offers Greece and Cyprus a leading role in the EU’s relations with the Middle East—that concerns Turkey. Its displeasure has already caused one high-seas standoff. . . .

Turkey is the only country in the eastern Mediterranean that has so far found no proven and probable resources even though, [according to reliable estimates], it has spent at least $560 million on acquiring two seismographic research vessels and a drillship. It is also the only country that hasn’t defined its exclusive economic zone with its neighbors, but disputes theirs.

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Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Cyprus, EU, Greece, Israel & Zionism, Natural Gas, Russia, Turkey

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf