US sanctions bring fresh trouble for Turkey

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan. (REUTERS)
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Updated 23 December 2019

US sanctions bring fresh trouble for Turkey

  • The Act includes action against firms involved in EU-Russia gas pipeline

ANKARA: The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by US President Donald Trump on Friday, includes a measure to sanction companies involved in Russian natural gas pipelines to Europe.

The move will affect the nearly finished Nord Stream 2, which runs from Russia to Germany, and TurkStream, a Russian pipeline that traverses the Black Sea to Turkey.

Swiss-Dutch company Allseas announced on Saturday that it had suspended work on building a major natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany in order to avoid US sanctions contained in the legislation.

 

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Experts said that although the bill includes both Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream, the former will be much more affected.

Madalina Sisu Vicari, an expert on geopolitics and Turkey, said that despite NDAA coming into force, the sanctions from the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act have not started, as the US has 60 days to identify “vessels that engaged in pipe-laying at depths of 100 feet or more below sea level for the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, the TurkStream pipeline project.”

The bill calls on the Trump administration to identify companies working under the project within 60 days to activate the sanctions. If a company is identified, it would then be blacklisted by the US, unless the president decided the company was decreasing its operations. The president could also waive the sanctions over national security considerations.

HIGHLIGHT

The move will affect the nearly finished Nord Stream 2, which runs from Russia to Germany, and TurkStream, a Russian pipeline that traverses the Black Sea to Turkey.

“While it is indisputable that the only company that falls under the law’s provision is AllSeas, it is also evident that the sanctions, if implemented by Trump’s administration, will not affect TurkStream because the offshore section of TurkStream is finished,” Vicari told Arab News.

Gazprom announced the completion of the offshore section of TurkStream in the Black Sea on Nov. 19.

 

“The pipeline’s offshore section was finalized ahead of schedule — its completion had been planned for December — and one of main reasons might have been attempt to avoid the sanctions targeting TurkStream.

The NDAA sanctions will come too late for TurkStream,” Vicari said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced that “neither Nord Stream 2 nor TurkStream will stop.”

TurkStream aims at bringing Russian gas to Turkey under the Black Sea in January 2020, with Western companies involved in the production phase and offshore pipe laying.

 


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 22 January 2020

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”