Huge Win for Turkey - Big Win For Russia
Historic Loss for EU
December 06, 2014 "ICH"
the EU “defeated” Putin by forcing him to cancel
the South Stream pipeline. Thus ruled Western
on the ground spell otherwise. This “Pipelineistan”
gambit will continue to send massive
geopolitical shockwaves all across Eurasia for
quite some time.
nutshell, a few years ago Russia devised Nord
Stream – fully operational – and South Stream –
still a project – to bypass unreliable Ukraine
as a gas transit nation.
Russia devised a new deal with Turkey to bypass
the “non-constructive” (Putin’s words)
approach of the European Commission (EC).
Background is essential to understand the
years ago I was following in detail
ultimate opera – the war between rival
pipelines South Stream and Nabucco.
eventually became road kill. South Stream may
eventually resurrect, but only if the EC comes
to its senses (don’t bet on it.)
3,600 kilometer long South Stream should be in
place by 2016, branching out to Austria and the
Balkans/Italy. Gazprom owns 50 percent of it -
along with Italy’s ENI (20 percent), French EDF
(15 percent) and German Wintershall, a
subsidiary of BASF (15 percent).
stands these European energy majors are not
exactly beaming – to say the least. For months
Gazprom and the EC were haggling about a
solution. But in the end Brussels predictably
succumbed to its own.
still gets to build a pipeline under the Black
Sea – but now redirected to Turkey and,
crucially, pumping the same amount of gas South
Stream would. Not to mention Russia gets to
build a new LNG (liquefied natural gas) central
hub in the Mediterranean. Thus Gazprom has not
spent $5 billion in vain (finance, engineering
redirection makes total business sense. Turkey
is Gazprom’s second biggest customer after
Germany. And much bigger than Bulgaria, Hungary,
and Austria combined.
also advances a unified gas distribution network
capable of delivering natural gas from anywhere
in Russia to any hub alongside Russia’s borders.
if it was needed, Russia gets yet another
graphic proof that its real growth market in the
future is Asia, especially China – not a
fearful, stagnated, austerity-devastated,
politically paralyzed EU.
evolving Russia-China strategic partnership
implies Russia as complementary to China,
excelling in major infrastructure projects from
building dams to laying out pipelines. This is
business with a sharp geopolitical reach – not
also made a killing. It’s not only the deal with
Gazprom; Moscow will build no less than Turkey’s
entire nuclear industry, apart from increased
soft power interaction (more trade and tourism).
all, Turkey is now increasingly on the verge of
becoming a full member of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization (SCO); Moscow is
actively lobbying for it.
means Turkey acceding to a privileged position
as a major hub simultaneously in the Eurasian
Economic Belt and of course the Chinese New Silk
blocks Turkey? Turkey looks east. That’s
Eurasian integration on the move.
Washington has tried very hard to create a New
Berlin Wall from the Baltics to the Black Sea to
“isolate” Russia. Now comes yet another Putin
judo/chess/go counterpunch – which the opponent
never saw coming. And exactly across the Black
Turkish strategic imperative is to configure
itself as the indispensable energy crossroads
from East to West – transiting everything from
Iraqi oil to Caspian Sea gas. Oil from
Azerbaijan already transits Turkey via the Bill
Clinton/Zbig Brzezinski-propelled BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan)
would also be the crossroads if a Trans-Caspian
pipeline is ever built (slim chances as it
stands), pumping natural gas from Turkmenistan
to Azerbaijan, then transported to Turkey and
Putin’s judo/chess/go counterpunch accomplished
with a single move is to have stupid EU
sanctions once again hurt the EU. The German
economy is already hurting badly because of lost
brilliant “strategy” revolves around the EU’s
so-called Third Energy Package, which requires
that pipelines and the natural gas flowing
inside them must be owned by separate companies.
target of this package has always been Gazprom –
which owns pipelines in many Central and Eastern
European nations. And the target within the
target has always been South Stream.
it’s up to Bulgaria and Hungary – which, by the
way, have always fought the EC “strategy” – to
explain the fiasco to their own populations, and
to keep pressing Brussels; after all they are
bound to lose a fortune, not to mention get no
gas, with South Stream out of the picture.
here’s the bottom line; Russia sells even more
gas – to Turkey; and the EU, pressured by the
US, is reduced to dancing like a bunch of
headless chickens in dark Brussels corridors
wondering what hit them. The Atlanticists are
back to default mode – cooking up yet more
sanctions while Russia is set to keep buying
more and more gold.
not the endgame – far from it. In the near
future, many variables will intersect.
Ankara’s game may change – but that’s far from a
given. President Erdogan – the Sultan of
Constantinople – has certainly identified a
rival Caliph, Ibrahim of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh fame,
trying to steal his mojo.
the Sultan may flirt with mollifying his
neo-Ottoman dreams and steer Turkey back to its
previously ditched “zero problems with our
neighbors” foreign policy doctrine.
House of Saud is like a camel in the Arctic. The
House of Saud’s lethal game in Syria always
boiled down to regime change so a
Saudi-sponsored oil pipeline from Syria to
Turkey might be built – dethroning the proposed,
$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria “Islamic” pipeline.
Saudis see Russia about to supply all of
Turkey’s energy needs – and then some. And
“Assad must go” still won’t go.
neo-cons are also sharpening their spears. As
soon as early 2015 there may be a Ukrainian
Freedom Act approved by the US Congress.
Translation: Ukraine as a “major US non-NATO
ally” which means, in practice, a NATO
annexation. Next step; more turbo-charged
neo-con provocation of Russia.
possible scenario is vassal/puppies such as
Romania or Bulgaria – pressed by Washington –
deciding to allow full access for NATO vessels
into the Black Sea. Who cares this would violate
the current Black Sea agreements that affect
both Russia and Turkey?
then there’s a Rumsfeldian “known unknown”; how
the weak Balkans will feel subordinated to the
whims of Ankara. As much as Brussels keeps
Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia in a strait jacket,
in energy terms they will start depending on
moment, let’s appreciate the magnitude of the
geopolitical shockwaves. There will be more,
when we least expect them.
Escobar writes a column - The Roving Eye - for
Asia Times Online, and works as an analyst for
Russia Today and Tom Engelhardt's
TomDispatch.com, a project of The Nation
Institute, as well as Al Jazeera and The Real
News. Escobar has focused on Central Asia and
the Middle East, and has covered Iran on a
continuous basis since the late 1990s