Abandoning the East-Med Gas Pipeline Strengthens Vladimir Putin’s Hand

Jan. 26 2022

Three years ago, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece created the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum to cooperate in the export of their offshore fossil-fuel reserves. They planned eventually to build an undersea pipeline that would bring the gas to Bulgaria and Italy, from which it could be transported to the rest of Europe. Shoshana Bryen explains why, despite legislative support from the U.S. Congress, Washington has stopped supporting the project, which is now stalled:

Amos Hochstein, now President Biden’s senior advisor for energy security, has said he would be “extremely uncomfortable with the U.S. supporting” East Med because of its environmental implications. “Why would we build a fossil-fuel pipeline between the East Med and Europe when our entire policy is to support new technology . . . and new investments in going green and in going clean?” Hochstein said, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. “By the time this pipeline is built we will have spent billions of taxpayer money on something that is obsolete—not only obsolete but against our collective interest.”

As a foreign-policy matter, Turkey and Russia heavily disapproved of the entire East Med project, which did not include either of them. Although Israel has said more than once that Turkey should be included in the consortium, Ankara has adamantly declined because it claims part of the energy resources of Cyprus as its own. Russia, for its part, would be happy to scuttle the pipeline to ensure its monopoly in Europe.

Russia already has enormous leverage. It is January and it is cold. Europeans are now facing shortages of natural gas, as Russia reduced its exports to Europe by more than 41 percent from the level of January 2021. It’s not that Russia can’t deliver more; it just chooses not to. . . . The final foreign-policy element in the East Med story is the Russia-U.S.-NATO standoff over Russian threats to Ukraine.

In particular, Germany, dependent on Russia for energy sources, has been reluctant to support providing NATO assistance to defend Ukraine or to shore up the defenses of Poland and the Baltic states.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: Israel diplomacy, Israeli gas, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy

 

How China Equips the Islamic Republic to Repress Its People

In its dedication to bringing totalitarianism into the 21st century, the Chinese Communist party has developed high-tech forms of surveillance using facial-recognition software, a vast system of “social credit,” and careful control over its subjects’ cellular phones. Even stricter and more invasive measures are applied to the Uyghurs of the northwestern part of the country. Beijing is also happy to export its innovations in tyranny to allies like Iran and Russia. Playing a key role in these advances is a nominally private company called Tiandy Technologies. Craig Singleton describes its activities:

Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese-government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human-rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.

Iran has long relied on China to augment its digital surveillance capabilities, and Tehran was an early adopter of Beijing’s “social-credit” system, which it wields to assess citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. . . . Iranian government representatives have publicized plans to leverage smart technologies, including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent. Enhanced cooperation with China is central to those efforts.

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider removing the company, its owner, and stakeholders from the international financial system and global supply chains.

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Read more at FDD

More about: China, Human Rights, Iran, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy