Biden ditches Greece-Israel gas pipeline winks at Erdogan and Putin - Politics | PoFo

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Greek City Times wrote:US once again abandons Greek interests with EastMed Pipeline to appease Turkey


The US informed Greece, Cyprus and Israel that it no longer supports the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline (EastMed) project for both ecological and financial reasons, in addition to the excuse that the project causes tensions in the region. The EastMed agreement was signed by Greece, Cyprus and Israel in January 2020 in Athens and is supposed to transport hydrocarbons from Israeli and Cypriot fields to the Greek mainland via Cyprus and Crete, and in the long run possibly even to Italy.

Turkey immediately opposed the proposed 1,900 kilometre long pipeline. Ankara is illegally exploring for natural gas in Cypriot territorial waters and such a pipeline would end its provocations. In an attempt to cancel the EastMed pipeline, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed an agreement with the former Muslim Brotherhood government of Libya to carve up Greek maritime space between themselves – an action that received international condemnation and no support.

None-the-less, the biggest question that emerges is why Washington changed its position on the EastMed pipeline when under President Joe Biden, the US in an unprecedented manner, was supposedly distancing its relations with Turkey in favour of Greece. According to various Greek media outlets, the change in Washington’s position is in the hope of avoiding clashes with Erdoğan, or at least avoid clashes until the end of the June 2023 Turkish election. According to Greek media, the State Department and the National Security Council are driven by the idea that Turkey, regardless of Erdoğan, should not be lost to the West.

The US Congress approved a bill in 2019 on cooperation with Eastern Mediterranean countries in the energy sector. At the time, they believed this cooperation would be a counterweight to Russian energy dominance in the European market. The new bill sought to make the US a key player in the Eastern Mediterranean gas market, strengthen military ties with Greece, and lift a four-decade arms embargo on Cyprus. The bill supposedly reaffirmed Washington’s intention to curb Turkey’s expansionist and aggressive ambitions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Yet, Washington is now retreating and Greek authorities have not yet reacted publicly.

Since the accession of New Democracy to power in Greece in mid-2019, but especially after Biden entered the White House in January 2020, pro-US sentimentality in Greece grew to unprecedented levels. According to a June 2021 Pew Survey, 63% of Greeks viewed the US favourably, following Biden’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide and more direct rhetoric towards Turkey. None-the-less, according to the same survey, only 11% of Greeks found the US to be a “very” reliable partner.

It is recalled that a January 2020 Pew Survey found that 54% of Greeks viewed the US favourably, demonstrating the spike in pro-US sentimentality after Biden’s election. However, despite the hard fought good will earned in Greece, the US withdrawal from the EastMed Pipeline has dented pro-American sentiment and temporarily silenced Washington’s cheerleaders in Athens, something that will surely strengthen pro-French/European autonomy elements within the Greek State.

Division within the Greek state apparatus is frequently reported in media and by inside sources, who point to an ideological battle between those who follow Macron’s path towards a European autonomy, and those who blindly follow Washington’s interests in the region, even if they are to the detriment of Greek interests.

Those seeking for Greece’s balance with the US, China and Russia, under the umbrella of European autonomy and Macron’s vision of a Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, are vindicated once again as the US is not, and never has been, a trusted and reliable partner for Greece. In fact, this has even been noted by French media, with Observateur Continental writing: “They proved that Greece was not as important to Washington as Turkey. The United States has proven once again that no government, not even an ally, can trust them.”

It appears that the Foreign Ministry is aware of this fact. It is noted that Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias has maintained friendly relations with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, with the pair maintaining regular contact – the most recent being only a few days ago to discuss the situations in Libya, Syria and Kazakhstan. Lavrov commented: “we also see that Greece does not want to follow the path of worsening anti-Russian sanctions, Greece in principle does not feel satisfied with what is happening now between the West and the Russian Federation. We trust our Greek friends and that with their wisdom they will make the choice that meets their beliefs.”

However, despite Dendias’ success in maintaining Greece’s balance with the US, Russia and China, there is still a strong element within the Greek State, particularly from the Defence Ministry, that aims to capitulate to Washington’s interests. Although this element had been strengthening over the past two or so years, they were once again dealt a major blow following the repeated US pattern of abandoning its championship of liberalism, human rights and the rule of law for the sake of appeasing Turkey against Greek interests. This is in the hope that Turkey will stay in the Western camp.

Right, bring Donald Trump back already.

This undermines Europe's gas security, giving Putin the upper hand for the years to come in the EU gas energy market whose effects we all felt this year in the most substantial of ways, it also props up Erdogan at the expense of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Well done Biden, after your humiliation in Afghanistan, your rather puny attempts to humiliate France, you are now humiliating yourself in southern Europe as well as in eastern Europe.

US policy-makers charting Foreign & Energy Policy, live:

noemon wrote:Right, bring Donald Trump back already.

This undermines Europe's gas security, giving Putin the upper hand for the years to come in the EU gas energy market whose effects we all felt this year in the most substantial of ways, it also props up Erdogan at the expense of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

Well done Biden, after your humiliation in Afghanistan, your rather puny attempts to humiliate France, you are now humiliating yourself in southern Europe as well as in eastern Europe.

US policy-makers deciding on their next move forward:

Pretty stupid choice considering US stance on North Stream 2.

Although in the grander scheme of things this pipeline would not matter much unless it was connected to SA/Dubai/Iran directly. As I understand this pipeline was for Israel and Cyprus mostly. But every bit helps so to say.

The main problem with the pipeline idea is that it goes through Israel which many Arab countries would be against I think if they are to be connected to it which they definitely would want. Perhaps building it through Egypt and then connecting Israel somewhere in the MED to it would be a better choice to prevent all of the political turmoil spilling in to a gas/oil supply problems down the line. This would probably be acceptable to SA, Iran, Israel, UAE and so on.

Edit: Come to think of it, US might not want the upper thing to happen because it is in direct US interest to sell a lot of LNG and OIL to Europe who are prime and safe customers. And US has no shortage of LNG a very large chunk of which is just going to waste.
noemon wrote:The pipeline projects includes the Arabs, Egypt as well as the Palestinian Authority.

Does it involve Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, UAE and so on? If this was the case then It is definitely would be good for Europe. I am not sure how all the participants would agree with building a pipeline through Israel but that is just details though.

Also this would explain Why America would be against it since it has its own Gas and Oil in abundance to sell to Europe. Basically two possible suppliers competing to replace Russia.
This is about East Med gas, not M-E oil.

Why would Iranian or Turkish inclusion be conditional to the legitimacy of interconnecting, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Egypt? :hmm:

In its backdrop, Israel has normalised relations with Saudi and the UAE.

Politically it is a great project that would stabilize and solidify relations in the area between Europeans, Arabs and Jews.

Financially it is also a great project that would diversify Europe's gas requirements and would prevent Putin from playing monopoly games, like the ones he has been playing as speak.

The jury is out mate.

The US is retreating from all positions just like it retreated from Afghanistan, in a panicked hurry, leaving a mess behind.

The only good thing out of this is that it confirms the ideas of pro-European people like myself who have been screaming for 2 decades now that Europe needs to grab the reins of its own future.
Istanbuller wrote:Because gas fields are located on disputed areas. They are all the US's vassal states (including Turkey either). It is America who should resolve the issue.

The only dispute is in Erdogan's imperialist fantasies. All the countries in the region are openly willing to put Turkish aggression to rest by going to the Hague to settle the matter. Turkey refuses.

The EU has greenlighted the project as a Project of Common Interest.
Rugoz wrote:So Turkey would use violence to prevent pipeline construction?

It's not about exploitation of gas fields, afaik.

Evidently, as she already did -even if unsuccesfully- 2 years ago.

Turkey reaffirmed her cassus belli in parliament just last month.

It took a full Greek naval mobilisation, the ramming of Turkey's flag-ship by a Greek frigate and the combined sanctions by the EU and the US to put Erdogan back in his place.

A position that is now being undermined by the US and the EU.

Not to worry though, for there is always worse, the Ukraine is about to be abandoned by both US and Europe even worsly.

Claims that Germany had “blocked” RAF transport planes carrying anti-tank missiles to Ukraine from flying over its airspace seem to have been exaggerated. Yet the truth is worse. Berlin no more acted to block our help going to Kiev than it has been willing to back up Ukraine to block any potential Russian invasion.

Its passivity in the face of a looming crisis means that Berlin is not the pivot of Europe but a power vacuum at its heart.

There were hopes in the West that Angela Merkel’s retirement last year would usher in a less cosy relationship between Berlin and Moscow. The delay to certifying the Nordstream 2 pipeline suggested a firmer line. But as tensions have mounted, the new German government seems to think that sweet-talking in Kiev and Moscow will wish away the war clouds.

When she was appointed foreign minister in the new German coalition government last month, Annalena Baerbock seemed to mix Green Party concerns with a human rights agenda which put her at odds with the Kremlin. But her comments in Kiev yesterday suggested that her line is little different from Angela Merkel’s, which was incredibly weak in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis in 2014.

Ms Baerbock’s double visit to Kiev and Moscow has demoralised the Ukrainians and emboldened the Russians. They see that she has only words. Even the hints of sanctions suggest how little Germany will do rather than how firmly it will act.

Germany isn’t alone to blame for splitting the Nato response. President Macron has talked a big game of asserting the strategic sovereignty of a “united Europe” able to pool its diplomatic, military and economic weight. But when trouble looms, and his re-election fight in April approaches, Macron chooses the path of strategic silence.

To paraphrase Churchill, Macron's grand strategy is a riddle without a sphinx to embody it.

Washington’s attention span wobbles between domestic crises to China and Taiwan, to North Korea and the Middle East. This makes Brussels’ absence from the table as this crisis mounts in Eastern Europe a desperate indictment of the dreams of the EU as a key player for peace and security.

Sadly, Vladimir Putin sees an unfocused Joe Biden in the White House and a British prime minister mired in scandals. Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, might be scanning the clouds on the horizon, but can Whitehall galvanise the European allies by itself?

With the Americans absent, it is desperately destabilising that Europe’s two “engines” — Germany and France — have stalled at this critical moment. Germany’s energy dependence on Russia, and France’s dependence on the German-dominated European Central Bank in Frankfurt, have stymied any EU-wide underpinning of Nato.

Think back to how President Macron and Chancellor Merkel last year wanted to restart a dialogue between the EU and the Kremlin, over the heads of the other members. Paris and Berlin would be the double-mouthed voice of Europe negotiating with the double-headed Russian eagle. That suggestion was shot down not least by the Poles and the Baltic States, but nothing clearer was put in its place. Now Germany has revived that suggestion but without even French participation.

Italy, like Germany, is heavily dependent on Russian gas. Like Paris, Rome looks to Berlin for a lead.

Vladimir Putin may be more of an opportunist than a grand strategist, but a headless Europe tips the balance in favour of him acting to grab what he can while he can.

Same feeble sentiments echoed in Europe for Erdogan.
Beren wrote:It's really hard to understand US grand strategy such as fundamental concerns of essential key allies like Germany Russia and Turkey (=/= Erdogan) are supposed to be taken into account, isn't it? :lol:

Fixed it for you. Or are you saying that it is a fundamental concern of Germany for the Ukraine to be destroyed? Or are you talking about Russia?

Even if you talk about Germany, why would such a thing even be considered?

If talking about Russia, why would Russia take priority over the Ukraine and the EU for the US? And why would Turkish aggression and illegal claims take priority over Greece, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and EU energy security as a whole?

Unless you feel otherwise, NATO is a defensive organization designed to ensure the territorial integrity of its members, not there to justify the illegal territorial expansion of rogue members like Turkey as promulgated by the Turkish-Libyan maritime accord that declares the annexation of EU territory.
Beren wrote:Gas from Europe and the East Med solves Germany's and Europe's fundamental energy concerns.

Gas from Europe and the East Med solves Germany's and Europe's fundamental energy concerns.

Beren wrote:As to Turkey, in my opinion the Americans mean to deal, or rather reckon perhaps, with Erdogan in the next election without alienating Turkey itself.

So you're saying that the Americans are helping Erdogan get re-elected by throwing under the bus Greece, Cyprus, Israel as well the fundamental concerns of Europe's energy security.
noemon wrote:The only dispute is in Erdogan's imperialist fantasies. All the countries in the region are openly willing to put Turkish aggression to rest by going to the Hague to settle the matter. Turkey refuses.

The EU has greenlighted the project as a Project of Common Interest.

Are you sure about Israel? Do you think they see thing as the way you see? There is a strong Israeli lobby and pro-Israel politics in Turkey. It might surprise you that there is a significant number of Erdoğan supporters who believe Turkey should be in talks with Israel when it is up to Turkey's interests. We are already in dialogue openly and secretly.
ekathimerini wrote:
Israeli expert sees US role in East Mediterranean waning

The United States does not have a comprehensive strategy for the Eastern Mediterranean, according to Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and founding director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (1993-2016), who is regarded as one of the pre-eminent experts on Israeli foreign relations and the border region more generally.

Responding to a question by Kathimerini on a recent non-paper indicating that America may withdraw support for the EastMed gas pipeline project, Inbar, who is also a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, notes that Washington is “very ideological” and does not have a specific policy for the region, while adding that he is “skeptical” about the Biden administration’s “capability to think strategically.”

The trilateral relationship

In any case, says Inbar, developments on the energy front will not affect Israel’s relationship with Greece and Cyprus, its partners in the EastMed project and other initiatives. “The discussions that have been going on for several years have a strategic nature. Energy is just a part of it. And generally, money is less important to strategic decisions. Our trilateral relationship is based on strategic interests,” he says.

For the strategic analyst, Turkey continues to pose a problem though. “We see a much more aggressive Turkey that is fueled by Ottoman and Islamist impulses. And their appetite for energy is just a part of it. They want to be an energy bridge,” says Inbar.

In general terms, Inbar believes that the American stance is being fueled by ideological concerns. “We see a radical Islamist threat in Turkey, Gaza, in the government in Tripoli [in Libya] and in the Muslim Brotherhood. Americans are criticizing Sisi for human rights, asking for free elections like it is a panacea for everything,” he says, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. “So, they are very ideological,” he adds.

With regard to Egypt more specifically, Inbar agrees with it becoming a liquified natural gas transportation hub, but is skeptical as to what extent Cairo has the investment capital to support the production of clean energy.

Russia and China

Asked by Kathimerini whether decision making in Washingtonvis-a-vis the Eastern Mediterranean is influenced by relations with Moscow and Beijing, Inbar says “of course [it is] preoccupied with Russia and China.”

“Russia is present. The Chinese Belt and Road project ends in the East Mediterranean. I wish the Americans were paying more attention in the East Mediterranean,” he adds.

Commenting on the economic significance of a project like EastMed that would bring natural gas to Europe via Cyprus and Greece, Inbar says that “without this pipeline we will be more reliant on Russia.” However, he also believes that Europe needs to take a more active stance on the issue. “The Americans don’t see the bigger picture. Were they asked to support it? To give money? It should be a European decision,” he says.

Asked whether a decision to withdraw support from the project would serve Ankara or whether it may be intended to send a signal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that would relieve him of some pressure, Inbar answers in the negative, interpreting the position as related to the Biden administration’s policymaking weaknesses.

“I don’t think that the Biden administration is friendly to Erdogan. Turkey was not invited to the Democracy Forum in December. The Trump administration was much more friendly. Turkey also has limited influence in Washington,” he says.

Greece, adds Inbar, “is in a much better position.”

The non-paper

As far as the non-paper indicating Washington’s intention not to support the EastMed project is concerned, Inbar does not see it as heralding a mediation between Turkey and Greece. “I think that Americans at this stage don’t want to mediate between Turkey and Greece,” he says.

He believes, in fact, that Washington is doing very little even on the important domestic front, such as, for example, helping the opposition against Erdogan. “Turkey will be more peaceful if it gets rid of Erdogan. They should encourage opposition,” he notes.

As for the Eastern Mediterranean more generally, Inbar summarizes the situation as such: “If we look at the systemic environment, we see a decreased US interest in the region. I respect that. That gives much more freedom of action for local actors. Like Greece, Israel and Turkey but also Russia. Turkey wants a role. It is a revisionist state that wants to change things. Of course, it will be constrained by economic reasons because of Erdogan’s policies.”

Turkey, he adds, is developing homegrown military capabilities, is selling abroad and has “ambitions,” including its missile program and “eyeing nuclear capabilities.”

“The Americans are not here,” he says, adding that this allows “local powers” to step in.

He refers to Egypt in particular as a regional force, but also to the United Arab Emirates. “The UAE is more involved than before. They are trying to buy Erdogan, but I don’t think they will be successful,” he says.

“Overall, we will see a much more chaotic Eastern Mediterranean in the coming years,” Inbar warns.

Even though he stresses that this is the “worst-case analysis,” he notes that Turkey is becoming increasingly Islamicized and is using Libya as a means of piling pressure on Europe by encouraging migration inflows. Overall, he sees a “more antagonistic relationship between the West and Turkey,” while commenting that “NATO has no mechanism to get rid of a problematic partner.”

This relationship between Turkey and the West, says Inbar, gives Ankara greater freedom of movement, which means that the situation is unlikely to change significantly anytime soon.
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