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.


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.


Turkey to arrest 82 including mayor over pro-Kurdish protests

Updated 25 September 2020

Turkey to arrest 82 including mayor over pro-Kurdish protests

ANKARA: Turkish authorities on Friday issued arrest warrants for 82 people, including a mayor, over pro-Kurdish protests six years ago, officials and local media said.
The warrants relate to October 2014 protests in Turkey sparked by the seizure by Islamic State (IS) jihadists of the mainly Kurdish Syrian town of Kobane.
Police were on the hunt for the 82 suspects in the Turkish capital and six other provinces, the Ankara chief public prosecutor's office said in a statement.
The prosecutor's office did not specify what offences the 82 are alleged to have committed.
But it said crimes committed during the protests included murder, attempted murder, theft, damaging property, looting, burning the Turkish flag and injuring 326 security officials and 435 citizens.
There was also a warrant for the mayor of the eastern city of Kars, Ayhan Bilgen, Hurriyet daily reported.
Bilgen won the city in 2019 local elections representing the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), which is Turkey's second-largest opposition group in the parliament.
Of a total of 65 HDP mayors returned in those elections, 47 have now been replaced by unelected officials, with some detained on terror charges, the party said last month.
The Turkish government accuses the HDP of being a political front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party -- which has waged an insurgency against the state since 1984 -- but the party denies this.
Former HDP co-leaders, Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas, were named in the investigation but both have been in jail since 2016 pending multiple trials.
The government accused the HDP of urging people to take part in the protests across Turkey that left 37 dead.
But the HDP blames Turkish police for the violence.