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Mediterranean Gas Find: A Chance for U.S. to Break with Turkey

The future lies in Israeli, Cypriot, and Greek cooperation on newly discovered natural gas fields.

by
Seth Cropsey

Bio

August 19, 2013 - 12:00 am
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The strategic and energy-rich region beginning in the eastern Mediterranean and stretching 600 miles east into Central Asia straddles three continents, from Libya to Azerbaijan. The region is undergoing changes as large as those that Dickens described between London and revolutionary Paris. Huge energy deposits have been discovered at the same time that political upheavals roil the area. In this cauldron, the United States faces serious challenges and opportunities.

Politics and alliances in the eastern Mediterranean are shifting, and the region’s security framework is splintering. The region is now divided as much within the Muslim world as between it and the non-Muslim states.

A new order is emerging as a result of three major events: the redrawing of the region’s hydrocarbon map, with the discovery of substantial hydrocarbon deposits in the Cypriot and Israeli exclusive economic zones; Turkey’s adoption of a hostile neo-Ottoman ideology to guide it in the 21st century; and the “Arab Spring.” At the mid-point of this political shift, Greece and Cyprus — coordinating with Israel — have remained the principal states in the region that are friendly to the West. When volatility and fear are on the rise, predictability becomes especially prized.

The roles of Greece and Cyprus in the West’s political and security framework offer U.S. policy makers an arc of stability in the eastern Mediterranean, and bring the EU to within 45 minutes of Israel’s borders. Port usage, naval facilities, and strategic airbases that Cyprus and Greece have long extended to the United States permit a U.S. Sixth Fleet — if the U.S. should decide to return that once-powerful naval force to even a fraction of its former strength — to safeguard the region’s sea lines of communication. The region’s increasing volatility has elevated the strategic roles of Greece and Cyprus, and offers an incentive for American statesmen to promote a new order that establishes stronger relations with both countries and bolsters their regional standing.

Yet the eastern Mediterranean is witnessing new political, military, and energy centers of gravity just as the U.S. administration wants to “pivot” to Asia.

While China and India will require U.S. attention for at least the remainder of this century, the United States cannot abandon its influence in the eastern Mediterranean without risking NATO’s southern flank and the alliance itself if Iran becomes a nuclear power (leaving Israel to fend for itself), and without further underlining the appearance of a great power in strategic retreat.

The U.S.’s interest and involvement in the Mediterranean dates to the Jefferson administration. The United States has sought a stable region since the U.S. Navy battled the Barbary pirates in the early 19th century to keep them from preying on American commercial interests from their ports in North Africa. The ascendance of radical Islam as the region’s most dynamic political force, and the deepening connections of the radicals with the “Arab Spring,” is a great threat to U.S. interests — as the recent closure of 19 U.S. embassies from North Africa to the Middle East and as far south as Madagascar demonstrates. Islamist and authoritarian regimes have emerged after the demise of the region’s ancien régime. The regional drift toward authoritarian Islamism is a reminder of the late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington’s warning about a clash of civilizations, and suggests a struggle as long and dangerous as the one that occupied Europe’s attention throughout the centuries-long reign of imperial Ottoman rule.

The Ottomans’ successor, modern-day Turkey, has abandoned the Kemalist enterprise and is governed by an increasingly repressive, hostile, and Islamist regime. Turkey’s economic growth has encouraged Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to hew to his ideology, casting aside modern-day Turkey’s westward-looking and secular character that succeeded the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In its place, Mr. Erdogan has reoriented Turkey towards the East, emphasizing Sunni Muslim solidarity and hostility towards the U.S.’s non-Muslim allies in the region. Erdogan’s policy looks to reestablish the hegemony that his Ottoman predecessors achieved. There are many examples of this policy, such as the Turkish navy’s recent interference with the efforts of Israel and Cyprus to consolidate efforts to extract hydrocarbons from the sea beds within their exclusive economic zones; Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s March promise to “again tie Sarajevo to Damascus, Benghazi to … Batumi” (on Georgia’s Black Sea coast); and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies’ observation that “in March 2012, the Turkish government introduced a five-year strategic plan to make the country’s armaments industry one of the world’s ten largest by 2016.”

A combination of Islamist rule, a neo-Ottoman, ideology and Turkey’s attempt to return as the region’s hegemon opposes the U.S. goal of a democratic and peaceful region. It threatens America’s allies — Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and new EU member Bulgaria, which has complained of Turkey’s control over both supplies and prices of the natural gas it transits to the EU.

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Top Rated Comments   
Exactly. Go in, kick @ss, leave behind scorched earth, and loot on the way out, and after just a few repetitions, the world will learn that you simply do NOT mess with the United States and come out anything CLOSE to a winner.

If the Islamic World chooses to use Terror as a tactic, we can show them the true meaning of "Terror". Those that survive, that is. . .
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not that we should so something so unspeakably moronic as to go to war with Turkey, mind you. It's enough to extend unambiguous support for Cyprus, Greece, and Israel in their disputes with Turkey -- which is A LOT more than the Obama administration has done.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Afghanistan and Iraq WERE cakewalk, until we chose to occupy them indefinitely and waste money and lives for pointless "nation building."
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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Interesting that both Greece and Cyprus went broke in the financial crisis, but if they have now found oil they might not remain broke for long.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
rjwoneandoneisthree
Was this Mediterranean Gas Find discovered about 5 to 7 years ago? Israel has already sometime this year (2013) started producing Gas for use . Israel having been thrown under the bus by the Democrats and the Obama Administration, looks to have turned to China for ports and railroad improvements ( Contact between Israel and China signed in January 2013) and talking to Russia for possible support in Area sales. The Obama Administration has proven unreliable. The Obama Administration appears to be in bed with those who want to destroy Israel. Israel because of the Obama Administration must open new doors for support?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The region’s increasing volatility has elevated the strategic roles of Greece and Cyprus, and offers an incentive for American statesmen to promote a new order that establishes stronger relations with both countries and bolsters their regional standing."

"American statesmen...." In the Obama regime? HAW! that's a joke.

Never fear, the Obama regime will manage to screw up this opportunity, just like everything else Obama has touched.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Considering recent events there, I'm not so sure that Turkey is no longer properly a member of NATO. When they were under what was essentially secular rule, yes. But they have not just drifted, they have Leaped into the islamist sector in a fashion that, to me, should exclude them from our list of "friends" in the region. IF we should want to keep them a member of NATO, we need to Massively fund the secular opposition to Urdogan. Otherwise, "throw the bums out" as has been said.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
NATO's southern flank? Wouldn't Turkey, as a NATO member, be "NATO's southern flank?" Cyprus and Israel: not members of NATO. Let them sort out their own geopolitical problems, along with the Greeks, if they have any spare time with their present economic and political problems. Getting the US involved in someone else's "zone of economic interest" disputes in order to alienate the Turks sounds pretty stupid from a national interest point of view.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Alienate the Turks? How exactly low does the USA need to bow down in order not to alienate Erdogon's regime?

How does Turkey in any way serve the interest of the US ? We need them and can rely on them for what?

Yes, there is no need to intervene in Cyprus or the gas fields. Israel is doing just fine protecting those. We can continue support for Israel and check Erdogon with all of his toothless bluster by doing nothing.

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Gee, I don't know, didn't Turkey, unlike, say, Israel, fight in the Korean war on our side? Don't the Turks have intelligence assets in Iran and Syria (our latest big adventure) that might, possibly, some day be useful? Don't the Turks have convenient air bases for exerting American will in the middle east? Aren't the Turks an important asset in the Black Sea? What, exactly, has Cyprus, Greece or Israel done for us compared to any of that? Greece, at least, is in NATO, kind of like Turkey, and quite unlike Cyprus and Israel.

I don't think "not taking the side of some crummy quasi country like Cyprus" and their new friends against Turkey qualifies as "bowing down." It just makes political sense.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Alternate headline:

Mediterranean Gas Find: A Chance for Europe to Grow Grow a Pair

Why is it that the US has to secure energy for the EU? It's their backyard, not ours.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Except that Turkey (a NATO member) is threatening Israel. They've already committed an act of war against us with the Mavi Marmara, and we appeased them to the Nth degree, but that wasn't enough for them. What the Turkish navy again gets involved and we in Israel are forced into war with Turkey? According to NATO rules, that's an attack on the US.

PS - Maybe Turkey should be expelled from NATO.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Cold War was won two decades ago. Maybe the US should withdraw from NATO. Presumably Europe reached adulthood with the establishment of the EU. Let them take care of their own defense. The US can no longer afford to.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Israel needs to continue more resources to navy. Turkey is not going to attack now. NATO is a defunct organization. The Turks have painted themselves into a corner.

Biggest problem for Turkey is not Israel. They need to deal with Syria, the impending defeat of the Muslim Botherhood in Egypt, backed by them, and the perpetual war with the Kurds.

Hey Erdogon, you promised a visit to Gaza for near a decade now and can't deliver. I thought you were a big deal. Guess not.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have to say that I agree with both of you. The United States shouldn't have to lift a finger, to help to secure the EU's energy supplies. It's well-known now that Britain and Poland, possibly Ireland, are sitting on very large energy supplies and it's a pretty safe bet that they extend some way under the neighbours of those countries. Rather than welcoming this development, the EU (or, at least, some of its tentacles) has been dreaming up pretexts to prevent the development of those resources, for eco-fascist motives.

I think it's wrong for the author to place any reliance on the wisdom, or even the goodwill, of the eu. Both the Greeks and the Cypriots are mired in manure, for being stupid enough to join first the eu itself, then the euro. In the case of Athens, Brussels has used the crisis to turn it into a satrapy (Xerxes didn't achieve that), while Cypriot sovereignty has been treated with equal contempt.

You can add to that a persistent anti-Israel attitude in the eu. I don't believe, as a lot of American commentators appear to, that anti-Israeli, or more widely anti-Jewish, sentiment is generally widespread in most of Europe. Such attitudes, however, are certainly far from unknown in the corridors of power - and you can practically pick your corridor.

A tribe of eurocrats who can blithely condemn most of the continent to fuel poverty aren't going to lose sleep, if Turkey attempts to do the same to Israel. MZK is right: if Israel sinks a Turkish destroyer, or the whole Turkish navy, technically that is an attack on the US. Unfortunately, this has one of two outcomes. The first is that Obama comes down hard on the side of Turkey and I shouldn't trust him not to, since Turkey seems to be his favourite islamist state. The second is that he uses the failure of all of NATO to respond in 2001 as an excuse for staying out of the conflict, depriving any aid to Israel, even as the injured party. In that case, I'd expect to see Turkey complete the conquest of Cyprus, begun in 1974.

As far as I recall, Turkey itself was the NATO country with the feeblest response to 9/11, but Obama can easily overlook that trivial detail.

And yes, Turkey should be kicked out of NATO.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Until this moron in the US is out of power the authoritarian states will continue to chip away at the stability of the world for their own interests. He should be running some African country where his incompetence and outright stupidity fits right in and doesn't affect the rest of the world. Future generations, unfortunatly, will pay for this idiot's indecisions.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Those who are STILL saying that Obama is an idiot, are idiots.


35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
You mean he's just evil?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really? I am hard pressed to find much of anything Obama has accomplished unless it was playing Spades while Bin Laden was brought down. Other than that, there has not been a single successful foreign policy initiative. Things are no better on the domestic front. The economy is still a shambles, ObamaCare is cratering of its own weight, and we shouldn't even talk about the stimulus or of 4 successive trillion dollar deficits.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Everything, and I mean everything Obama has done has been to weaken and dismantle the US. If he had this as his stated intent (and I would argue that he did) what, pray tell, would he do differently?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The alternative — the passivity of “leading from behind” — offers nothing but weakness and additional evidence that we are slowly withdrawing from the world."

This is not the alternative. This is the S. O. P. of the day until the anti-Americans are out of power in the Congress, White house and the State houses.

The world will burn soon and then the children will cry for Daddy and Mommy to fix it.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The headline made me wonder if anyone are PJM knew about those Turkish troops on Cyprus or the ongoing diplomatic crisis over the island. This is not a recent development. Please note that those troops were in place before the Islamist gained influence in Turkey.

Unless we can resolve this peacefully, we're talking about yet another 'war for oil.' militarily, we could defeat turkey...but it would make Afghanistan and Iraq look like a cakewalk.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Afghanistan and Iraq WERE cakewalk, until we chose to occupy them indefinitely and waste money and lives for pointless "nation building."
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nope, the problem was, we have lost the moral authority of the 'rightness' of the American culture and system of government, and so failed to apply it to Iraq and Afghanistan when we were nation building. I knew Iraq was going to be a failed nation the moment we praised them basing their constitution on Islam.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not that we should so something so unspeakably moronic as to go to war with Turkey, mind you. It's enough to extend unambiguous support for Cyprus, Greece, and Israel in their disputes with Turkey -- which is A LOT more than the Obama administration has done.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not if we went in or, over them with the will to win. With the will to break everything they own , make the point and go home. but if we just go and tickle them, for sure it'll degenerate into the giant quagmires we're so familiar with. We have the might and the technology to never ever require a boot on the ground. We just don't have the will...
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly. Go in, kick @ss, leave behind scorched earth, and loot on the way out, and after just a few repetitions, the world will learn that you simply do NOT mess with the United States and come out anything CLOSE to a winner.

If the Islamic World chooses to use Terror as a tactic, we can show them the true meaning of "Terror". Those that survive, that is. . .
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
YES! Finally! THIS is what I'm talking about! This nation building nonsense and winning their hearts and minds idiocracy has GOT to stop! Go in-break things-and kill people-then leave!

I like the pillaging part, though! We've gotten nothing out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Indeed, the future lies within Israel's energy finds, with Cyprus as a limited partner and Greek cooperation too. There will be HUGE global implications when the entire spectrum of these findings are felt.
However, while the US (and Europe) prostrates western interests to Arab/Muslim tyrants over oil, the fact of the matter is that there are other reasons why they tie themselves to these retrograde forces.
Now, with Obama Inc purposefully setting fires all over the Mid East, all is not as it seems. And, this is where Turkey comes in, regarding their aspirations to resurrect the Ottoman Empire - http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/06/12/the-islamist-in-chiefs-taqiyya-driven-hand-in-resurrecting-the-ottoman-empire-its-geo-political-knock-on-effects-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

In other words, rest assured, the Islamist-in-Chief will do everything he can to make sure that Turkey (and their surrogates) come out on top, blocking this and that.

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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