Turkey-Libya maritime agreement draws Greek ire

Turkey is among a handful of countries that did not ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. (Reuters)
Updated 30 November 2019

Turkey-Libya maritime agreement draws Greek ire

  • Athens sees the MoU as an attempt to block Greek and Cypriot energy drilling activities in the zone
  • Turkey and Greece have overlapping claims over maritime zones

ANKARA: A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Turkey and Libya on Wednesday to demarcate maritime zones in the Eastern Mediterranean has sparked condemnation from Greece.

Athens sees the MoU as an attempt to block Greek and Cypriot energy drilling activities in the zone.

Turkey and Greece, although allies under the NATO umbrella, have long been at loggerheads over Cyprus and especially about the maritime zones they both claim as their own.

Hailing the MoU as a victory, Ankara claims that the move aims to “protect Turkey’s rights deriving from international law,” while Athens considers it a violation of the sovereign rights of third countries and of the good neighborliness principle. On Friday, the Greek Foreign Ministry summoned Turkish Ambassador Burak Ozugergin.

Ahmet Sozen, who chairs the department of international relations at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Nicosia, thinks Turkey is trying to get out of the isolation that it has been facing in the Eastern Mediterranean.

“Israel, Egypt, Greece and the Greek Cypriots have been forging bilateral and trilateral agreements keeping Turkey out of the equation for some time. Now, with the MoU with Libya, Turkey has been retaliating to this strategy,” he told Arab News.

Libya’s neighbor Egypt has been closely cooperating with Greece and Cyprus on energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, including a possible establishment of a regional gas market. Egyptian relations with Turkey have been especially frosty since 2013. Cairo condemned the deal as “illegal.”

The controversial move came just two weeks after the EU agreed on restrictive measures against Turkey in response to its drilling activities near the Cypriot coast in violation of the established maritime economic zone off the divided island.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and cofounder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said little regard is given to the presence of a number of Greek islands  — especially Crete, located between the coasts of Turkey and Libya — along the corridor between Libyan and Turkish shores.

“This is not surprising because Turkey’s longstanding position is that islands’ capacity to generate maritime zones should be limited, compared with states with longer coastal fronts,” she told Arab News.

Turkey is among a handful of countries that did not ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. According to Sukkarieh, Ankara opposed the move “specifically because it opposes provisions governing the regime of islands.”

Last year, Wess Mitchell, US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, sent a message to Ankara over the drilling activities for hydrocarbons underway in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone. He said that “Turkey’s view is a minority of one versus the rest of the world.”

Sukkarieh said: “The deal is significant for Turkey because Ankara was finally able to find a partner in the Eastern Mediterranean that shares its views on the demarcation of maritime areas. On paper, Turkey is no longer alone.”


Iran says it’s defused 2nd cyberattack in less than a week

Updated 10 min ago

Iran says it’s defused 2nd cyberattack in less than a week

  • Iranian minister said the hackers were tracked
  • The country disconnected much of its infrastructure from the Internet after the Stuxnet computer virus

TEHRAN: Iran’s telecommunications minister announced on Sunday that the country has defused a second cyberattack in less than a week, this time “aimed at spying on government intelligence.”
Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said in a short Twitter post that the alleged attack was “identified and defused by a cybersecurity shield,” and that the “spying servers were identified and the hackers were also tracked.” He did not elaborate.
Last Wednesday, Jahromi told the official IRNA news agency that a “massive” and “governmental” cyberattack also targeted Iran’s electronic infrastructure. He provided no specifics on the purported attack except to say it was also defused and that a report would be released.
On Tuesday, the minister dismissed reports of hacking operations targeting Iranian banks, including local media reports that accounts of millions of customers of Iranian banks were hacked.
This is not the first time Iran says it has defused a cyberattack, though it has disconnected much of its infrastructure from the Internet after the Stuxnet computer virus, widely believed to be a joint US-Israeli creation, disrupted thousands of Iranian centrifuges in the country’s nuclear sites in the late 2000s.
In June, Washington officials said that US military cyber forces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone in the strategic Arabian Gulf.
Tensions have escalated between the US and Iran ever since President Donald Trump withdrew America last year from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran and began a policy of “maximum pressure.” Iran has since been hit by multiple rounds of sanctions.