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.

 


US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

Updated 10 August 2020

US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

  • Iran-backed militias renege on agreement to allow UN inspectors aboard stricken vessel holding 1.4 million barrels of oil

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The US blasted Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on Sunday for reneging on a deal to allow UN teams to board a rusting oil storage vessel that threatens an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

The FSO Safer has been moored 7 km off the coast of Yemen since 1988. It fell into Houthi hands in March 2015, when they took control of the coast around the port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis briefly bowed to pressure last month and agreed to allow a team of UN engineers to visit the ship, before changing their minds and restating their previous demands for the revenue from the oil. As the vessel’s condition deteriorates there are fears that the 1.4 million barrels of oil it contains will start to seep out.

“The Houthis have failed to follow through on their agreement to allow a UN team on to the Safer,” the White House National Security Council said on Sunday.

“They are courting environmental and humanitarian disaster by obstructing and delaying. For the good of Yemen and the region, the Houthis must allow the UN aboard the Safer.”

A recent water leak into the tanker’s engine prompted warnings of a major disaster.

“The time has come for a resolute response for an outcome,” the Yemen Embassy in Washington said on Sunday. 

“There cannot be more delays or deliberations. UN inspectors must immediately access and assess the Safer oil tanker even without Houthi permission.”

The UK echoed its concerns. “There is another floating disaster off the Yemeni coast with potentially as massive an ecological footprint as the shockwave that engulfed Beirut,” former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said. “The politics preventing safe evacuation of the oil must stop immediately.”