by F. William Engdahl, New Eastern Outlook:
In a fundamental sense the entirety of the five-year-long war over Syria, as well as the entire Arab Spring from Libya to Egypt to Iraq has been about control of hydrocarbon resources—oil and natural gas– and of potential hydrocarbon pipelines to the promising markets of the European Union. Dick Cheney’s 2001 War on Terror was primarily about providing the excuse for a direct US military takeover of the vast oil fields of Iraq and other key Middle East countries. Washington’s War on Syria has been less a war for control of oil. Rather, it’s about who controls whose natural gas flows via which pipelines through which borders to the vast EU gas market. At this point it looks more and more as if Russia’s geopolitical and geo-economic strategy is trumping (no Donald pun intended) Washington’s very troubled game in the region. Turkey is apparently deciding to become a key ally in this Russian energy trump.
At the beginning of September Turkey’s Minister of Energy, Berat Albayrak met the CEO of Gazprom Alexei Miller in Istanbul for talks about reviving Russia’s mammoth Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline from Russia, under the Black Sea to and through Turkey to the border of EU member country, Greece.
The progress on the Russian-Turkish gas pipeline came to an abrupt halt as relations between Moscow and Istanbul broke following the Turkish downing of a Russian jet over Syrian territory.
Following the September 1 Istanbul talks, one week later Berat Albayrak’s energy ministry issued the first permits for the start of the project. Gazprom issued the statement, “Accords were reached at the meeting to complete the issue of all required permits for initiation of the Turkish Stream project implementation as soon as possible. Commercial negotiations on conditions of Russian gas supplies to Turkey will continue.” Turkish Stream will involve construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey along the bottom of the Black Sea where 660 kilometers of pipeline will be laid in the old South Stream corridor, which was cancelled in December 2014, and 250 kilometers will be laid in a new corridor towards the European part of Turkey.
For the first time, in a further indication of Turkey’s seriousness about the Russian gas pipeline deal, President Erdoğan has proposed Turkey make substantial financial concessions to Russia, including paying for half of the pipeline’s construction.
It’s worth noting that Beret Albayrak’s father-in-law happens to be Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the man the CIA and their Cemaat networks of Fethullah Gülen within the Turkish military tried this past July to topple in a failed coup d’etat, presumably precisely because Erdogan had decided to dump his pro-NATO Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu this May and attempt a rapprochement with Putin’s Russia. That 180 degree pivot away from NATO towards re-establishing ties with Russia was the trigger for the failed coup attempt against Erdoğan by networks loyal to Gülen and the CIA. At the center of Washington’s alarm was reportedly their assessment that Erdoğan would make a revival of the Turkish Stream when he met with Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9.
Now the fact that the frozen Gazprom Turkish Stream project is not only back in discussion, but also advancing concretely under the direct eye of Erdoğan’s son-in-law suggests that, despite appearances of cutting a deal with Washington on Syria and the Syrian Kurds after the August 24 emergency talks of US Vice President, Joe Biden, Erdoğan is very serious about developing strategic ties with Russia.
Biden, who plays the role in the Obama Administration similar to that which Dick Cheney played for George W. Bush, was rushed to Ankara in a frantic bid to keep Turkey in NATO, even at the expense of Washington’s long-term Kurdistan separate state strategy. Now Turkey, with the clear assent of Moscow, has apparently prevented a Kurd separate enclave on Turkey’s border that threatened to link in the future with the Turkish Kurds. Clearly there is a god deal of behind-the-scene horse trading between Moscow and Ankara over strategic issues essential to both. Natural gas flows are at the center.
With the advance of the Turkish Stream project, Turkey and Russia are now positioned to trump repeated efforts of Washington and their NATO allies to force Russia and Gazprom out of the EU and open the door for US control of the huge EU natural gas market.
The first step in the US effort to break links between Russia and Western Europe was Washington’s February, 2014 coup d’ etat in Ukraine, referred to by Stratfor’s George Friedman as the “most blatant coup in US history.” In an interview with Moscow’s Kommersant paper that he perhaps today regrets, Friedman, then a Pentagon and CIA consultant, openly admitted that the geopolitical aim of the entire US-led Maidan Square Color Revolution was not at all to force “democracy” on Ukraine, but rather to block growing ties between Germany and Putin’s Russia.
As Friedman noted, “the most dangerous potential alliance, from the perspective of the United States, was considered to be an alliance between Russia and Germany. This would be an alliance of German technology and capital with Russian natural and human resources.” And gas pipeline wars are at the center of that US effort to block Russia economic links in the EU.
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