28east

Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘Russia

LPG: rekor zam

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As Russia loses a reliable friend in Iran, it takes precautions in the Caucasus and re-engages with its energy clients. Today, a “yurtdışı maliyetlerdeki artış” (foreign price increase) is blamed for a sharp, overnight rise in the price of LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) in Turkey.

Turkey has been meddling in the Caucasus over the past few days, seeking to begin a settlement the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with hopes for its own normalization (?) with Armenia. Russia is not interested in settling this dispute, much less doing so to Turkey’s advantage.

The vast majority of Turkish energy is imported from Russia.

Over a third of Turkish passenger cars use LPG otogaz.

LPG’ye gece yarısı 30 kuruş zam
İsmail Altunsoy, Zaman, 3 Aralık 2013

LPG vehicle owners awoke this morning to a record price increase. LPG’s per-liter price rose by 30 kuruş  [$0.15]. Along with the increase, the price of one liter of LPG in Istanbul climbed from 2.81 to 3.11 lira; in Ankara, from 2.61 to 2.91 lira. This most recent increase is the greatest one-time price increase made to LPG in history.

. . .

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Written by M. James

December 3, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Turkey: SCO membership?

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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

Turkey wants to become a member of SCO
BakuToday; July 26th, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to take Turkey into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). He said this in an interview with “24 TV”.

“Although we have done much for European integration and even created a separate Ministry, but French President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel blocked the process. Before the arrival of Sarkozy and Merkel, I participated in the summits of EU leaders. After the decision was made to minimize the relationship with us. But we have not suffered from it. Now everything is in front of the eyes, where Europe is where we are. Remains to be seen whether Europe until the year 2023. I invited Putin to accept Turkey into the SCO, and he promised me to consider this matter with other partners for this organization, “said Erdogan.

Written by M. James

August 1, 2012 at 9:31 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , ,

Converging in Damascus

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I have posted, by now, about how the interests of many global parties—NATO, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia—all converge in Damascus for one reason or another. Understanding the reasons for each group’s interest in what transpires in Syria is complex—much more complex than I can fully convey or understand—but I have attempted nonetheless. That attempt has made up, since my first post, the majority of this blog.

So for a moment, I’d like to briefly and loosely collate—in sound-bite fashion—my analysis on how Syria has been a focal point in the last year or so.

If the Syrian regime falls, it’s a probable BOGO for NATO and anyone who wants unilateral security (in the form of U.S. Nimitz-class supercarriers) in and around the Med. [12/14/11].

But what Russia does have is a Mediterranean naval port. It’s in Tartus, Syria—just south of Latakia. Considerably better developed and defended (complete with Russian surface-to-air missile system), Russia’s port in Tartus will not be given up easily… [12/14/11].

Latakia is the new Persian Empire’s (Iran’s) attempt at a naval base on the Mediterranean… [12/14/11].

Meaning: The Russian and Iranian naval bases at Tartus and Latakia, two Mediterranean access points for NATO antagonists, would be forfeit in the case of regime change.

Will al-Assad leave his post in the near future? It’s anyone’s guess, but it has no bearing on Turkey’s policy toward Syria. If Turkey is to “trust the masses” and maintain its role as a supporter of the Arab Awakening, it cannot support a Syrian regime that appears to oppress its citizens, and it must sell al-Assad’s government short—in spite of recent amicability—to retain its legitimacy [5/17/11].

Meaning: Turkey does not want to be the dog that barks, but doesn’t bite.

The problem is that, with the recent U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Iran will be filling in the political and military void. And if Iran retains al-Assad’s Syria as a close ally—well—look at the map.

The only thing stopping the new Persian Empire from expanding its Shia-powered influence—continuously—from Iran to the Mediterranean (and to Israel’s doorstep), is a new, unfriendly Sunni government in Syria [12/14/11].

Meaning: Syria is an integral part of Iran’s empire-building process.

Saudi Arabia is … caught between a geopolitical imperative to contain Iran and a domestic strategic imperative to contain Islamism as a political force [3/5/12].

Saudi King Abdullah was reported to have said last summer, “nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.” [1] [1/7/12].

Meaning: Although the danger of expanding Muslim Brotherhood influence is very tangible to the Saudis, the danger of an Iranian oil empire is greater.

The apparent result is team Russia, Iran, and Syria versus team NATO—with Turkey in particular—and Saudi Arabia. But despite what you may call a stacked team against Syria (NATO topples regimes in its sleep), regime change has not transpired, and shows no immediate signs of doing so. Direct intervention by NATO has only been hinted at, and not with much popular support. Even Turkey, despite pressure on many fronts to do so, has still not bitten. The result? A stalemate—no conclusion in sight.

But the reality is that no conclusion is a real conclusion—there are simply too many unilateral interests converging in Syria.

Bashar al-Assad was right when he said that regime change in Syria would mean an “earthquake” in the Middle East, its effects felt across the world. What he failed to mention, though, is that stability in Syria would just mean the same thing in a different way.

Written by M. James

March 10, 2012 at 2:09 am

Posted in Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , , , , , ,

The real logic behind BMD

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The true efficacy of ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems is secondary to the significance of the physical military presence required by such systems. Though the following excerpt relates to Poland and Romania, the same could be said for Turkey, which plays host to NATO missile defense, purportedly against Iran. Or, if you ask Turkey, against nobody in particular.

From Stratfor:

Tensions between Moscow and Washington can be attributed to one primary issue: ballistic missile defense (BMD). The United States’ BMD systems are scheduled to become operational in Romania in 2015 and in Poland in 2018. It is not that Russia is concerned with the technical aspects of U.S.-led missile defense systems eroding or neutralizing Russia’s nuclear deterrent. Rather, BMD means a physical U.S. military presence in the region, showing Washington’s security commitment to Central Europe against a strengthening Russia. The United States claimed that the systems are intended to counter the rising threat from Iran, so in response, Russia offered to integrate its BMD system with NATO’s system. According to Moscow, such integration would strengthen Western defenses across Eurasia — indeed, all the way to East Asia. However, Washington rejected the offer, thereby confirming Moscow’s suspicions that the BMD system is more about Russia than the Iranian threat.

Written by M. James

February 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Mittens for Bashar

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Meow!

In more of a political statement by Russia than anything else, Russia’s state arms exporter has sold $550 million worth of 36 Yakovlev Yak-130 “Mitten” combat trainers to Syria. Although they are more fierce than you might initially think, “Mittens” are still no match for the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri, the IAF, or the USAF. We are left to assume that Russia is simply reaffirming its support for the al-Assad regime.

Without explicitly confirming the report of the arms shipment, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week Russia was not going to justify its actions before the West because it was not violating “any international agreements or any [UN] Security Council resolutions.”

More here.

Written by M. James

January 23, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , , ,

Turkey approves South Stream

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According to RT, “There’s no stopping South Stream.” As of yesterday, Turkey has approved the $20 billion natural gas pipeline’s progress through its territorial waters in the Black Sea. Meanwhile, Nabucco, the proposed alternative pipeline (supported by the US and EU, concerned about Russian energy dependency), hovers around $33.7 billion—with considerable complications.

Turkey, of course, “said the two pipelines should complement each other.”

After receiving permission to build South Stream on Wednesday, Gazprom said two long-term gas supply contracts with Turkey would be extended to 2021 and 2025 and pledged to increase deliveries to Turkey in 2012. Turkey told Gazprom in October it would halt imports of Russian gas through a pipeline across Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria after failing to agree a discount on supplies.

In return Gazprom has granted Turkey’s state gas importer Botas a discount on the gas it buys through contracts for 8 bcm a year and 16bcm/yr, and has agreed to an easing of take-or-pay commitments on the contracts, he said confirming that the level of discount is not being made public.

Lest we forget Turkey’s own dependence on Russian energy.

Written by M. James

December 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Why Syria?

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The Department of History, United States Military Academy.

In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great laid siege to the Mediterranean port of Tyre. It was early in the young Macedonian king’s campaign in Asia, and besieging an island fortress for several months wasn’t in the playbook. But Tyre simply couldn’t be ignored. It was the last Persian port in the Mediterranean—and leaving a Persian navy in the Mediterranean was not an option (as the Peloponnesian War demonstrated).

Which is why he sacrificed time, troops, and manpower building a kilometer-long stone causeway to the walls of the city, complete with siege towers and naval support. After more setbacks than he could have anticipated, Alexander breached the walls and concluded the siege, ending Tyre’s service as a Persian port and securing the Mediterranean from Persian naval power.

A few hundred miles up the coast and a couple thousand years later, the Syrian port city of Latakia faces a similar predicament—sans siege towers and brilliant generals. Latakia is the new Persian Empire’s (Iran’s) attempt at a naval base on the Mediterranean, and while it may not be as well-established, defensible, or suitable for a large naval presence (yet), it’s a port. Much to Israel’s chagrin, as you can see. Take away Iran’s Syrian port at Latakia and the new Persian Empire will have a hard time projecting power in the Mediterranean. Cue an unstable Syria.

But first, there’s more:

The Russians are willing to contribute towards the Iranian port’s defenses and looking forward to cooperation between the Russian, Iranian and Syrian fleets in the eastern Mediterranean opposite the US Sixth Fleet’s regular beat.

Tyre, Lebanon (A); Latakia, Syria (B); Tartus, Syria (C)

If anyone knows the value of a Mediterranean port, it’s Russia. Historically denied access to warm-water ports, Russia has never been granted legroom in the world’s oceans. Even now, Russia’s shipping industry relies on Turkish cooperation in the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. But what Russia does have is a Mediterranean naval port. It’s in Tartus, Syria—just south of Latakia. Considerably better developed and defended (complete with Russian surface-to-air missile system), Russia’s port in Tartus will not be given up easily—at least that’s what Admiral Kuznetsov says.

So, what this all adds up to is two NATO antagonists with ports in one unstable country. If the Syrian regime falls, it’s a probable BOGO for NATO and anyone who wants unilateral security (in the form of U.S. Nimitz-class supercarriers) in and around the Med. If Bashar stays, the George H.W. Bush might have to do more than “experience the rich history and culture of France”  the next time it’s in the 6th Fleet AOR.

But it isn’t just naval geopolitics driving foreign pressure against the Syrian regime, either. This is, after all, the Middle East, and no story would be complete without a sprinkling of sectarianism. Or, in this case, several helpings.

From the U.S. Department of State’s Jeffrey D. Feltman (here):

Iran continues to be complicit in the violence in Syria, providing material support to the regime’s brutal campaign against the Syrian people. Cynically capitalizing on the Syrian government’s growing alienation from its Arab neighbors, Iran is seeking to increase its influence in Syria and help Assad remain in power as a vital conduit to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The problem is that, with the recent U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, Iran will be filling in the political and military void. And if Iran retains al-Assad’s Syria as a close ally—well—look at the map.

This map.

The only thing stopping the new Persian Empire from expanding its Shia-powered influence—continuously—from Iran to the Mediterranean (and to Israel’s doorstep), is a new, unfriendly Sunni government in Syria. All of the relevant actors know this. And if you ask Bashar al-Assad, they’re all doing their best to bring about that Sunni government as quickly as possible.

Which leads us to the next question: If sanctions, attempts to undermine the Syrian army, and foreign assistance (training and weapons) for the Free Syrian Army don’t weaken the Iran-friendly regime (or empower the resistance) enough, who will be the first to step in? Turkey certainly stands out for being the loudest, but if it is as the Turks say, havlayan köpek ısırmaz (a barking dog doesn’t bite).

So we wait.

Written by M. James

December 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm