Ankara examines alternative energy routes amid reported collapse of EastMed pipeline

Special Ankara examines alternative energy routes amid reported collapse of EastMed pipeline
Nicos Anastasiades, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Benjamin Netanyahu before signing a deal to build the EastMed pipeline, Zappeion Hall, Athens, Greece, Jan. 2, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 January 2022

Ankara examines alternative energy routes amid reported collapse of EastMed pipeline

Ankara examines alternative energy routes amid reported collapse of EastMed pipeline
  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan: This project cannot happen. They (the US) carried out all the analyses, and they recognized that it had no positive sides
  • Experts say changing regional dynamics may open window of opportunity for Turkey to boost Israel energy ties

ANKARA: Amid reports that the US has withdrawn its support for the EastMed pipeline due to economic and environmental concerns, Ankara is poised to bring alternative energy sources to the table.

The EastMed project, which was expected to be completed by 2025, aimed at diminishing Europe’s dependence on Russian gas by annually carrying 10 billion cubic meters of gas from Israeli and Cypriot waters into the European gas network through the 1,900-km-long pipeline

Turkey has long rejected the EastMed project, which has the support of Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The Trump administration also backed the pipeline. 

During a visit to Albania on Jan. 18, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the project “cannot work without Turkey.”

“This project cannot happen. They (the US) carried out all the analyses, and they recognized that it had no positive sides. In other words, the cost calculations didn’t add up, so it pulled its support.”

Amid discussions of a possible official visit from Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Erdogan said on Tuesday that Turkey and Israel had previously tried to cooperate on energy resources but that relevant negotiations had been never pushed far. 

“The US’s loss of interest in the EastMed pipeline is grounded principally on its shift of energy policy focus and secondarily on the multiple economic, geopolitical, technical and environmental challenges faced by the pipeline,” Madalina Sisu Vicari, an energy expert from the Eurasian Energy Chamber in Washington, told Arab News. 

“When it comes the East Mediterranean region’s energy, the US’s interest is now primarily on electricity interconnectors that can support both gas and renewable energy sources, such as the EuroAsia interconnector linking the Israeli, Cypriot and European electricity grids, and the EuroAfrica subsea electricity interconnector linking Egypt to Crete and Greece,” she added. 

According to Sisu Vicari, other players from the East Mediterranean region have begun fostering energy opportunities and projects beyond the field of natural gas, and these efforts could re-shape the region’s geopolitical environment.

“For instance, Egypt, Greece and Cyprus signed, in last October, two memoranda of cooperation on the interconnection for the transmission of electric power — one aiming to connect their electricity grids, another to link their power systems to Egypt’s via a subsea cable,” she said. 

“The latter interconnector will transmit power produced by renewables in North Africa to Europe, the first such infrastructure in the East Mediterranean,” she said. 

Sisu Vicari also noted that Washington’s shift of position on the EastMed pipeline might also determine mood swings from Israel, as the project is not compatible with the environmental goals declared by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has pledged zero emissions by 2050. 

Experts note that changing regional dynamics may open a window of opportunity for Turkey to boost energy cooperation with Israel. 

As part of its efforts to mend ties with its former foes, Turkey has already signaled that it is prepared to carry the Israeli gas to Europe via its territories.

“We can sit down and discuss terms,” Erdogan said recently, adding that Turkey may use energy “as a tool for peace” if possible.

Sisu Vicari noted that whether such an energy deal would aim solely for the transportation of gas or encompass further areas of energy cooperation remains to be seen. 

“But an energy agreement would have important geopolitical implications not only for the bilateral relations between Turkey and Israel, but for the whole East Mediterranean region as well,” she said. 

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based energy expert, said it would not be feasible to launch a new pipeline if the authorities ever decide to initiate a joint project to carry gas to Europe through Turkish territories. 

“An Arab gas pipeline, a trans-regional gas pipeline meant to transfer natural gas, is already there. That pipeline, which will carry Egyptian natural gas to Europe by passing through Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, is expected to be connected to Turkey when the Syrian grid is fully constructed and when the Homs-Aleppo segment is completed,” he told Arab News. 

The first segment of the Syria-Turkey connection of the Arab Gas Pipeline between Aleppo and the Turkish border town of Kilis has been already constructed.

But on the other hand, Turkish and Israeli energy ministers held intense negotiations in 2017 when the construction of a proposed pipeline between Turkey and Israel was on the table. 

“It was expected to be a 500-km-long pipeline and would pass through maritime zones of Cyprus or Syria or both for carrying gas from Leviathan to Europe via Turkish territories,” Sezer said. 

“Beyond its international maritime law aspects, Turkish companies found this project too costly and not financially feasible.

“But the northern flank of Egypt hosts significant gas reserves, which should encourage Turkey to focus on that area rather than building new lines,” Sezer said. 

According to Sezer, any new gas project with Israel could further harm fragile regional relations, and could be used by Tehran as a pretext to halt gas flow to Turkey, especially under harsh winter conditions. 

Iran cut gas flows to Turkey on Wednesday, allegedly due to a technical failure, prompting several experts to question whether it was a reaction by Tehran against Herzog’s anticipated visit to Turkey.


Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister
Updated 10 sec ago

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister

Turkey re-evaluating death penalty after Erdogan’s wildfires comment — minister
ISTANBUL: Turkey will reconsider a 2004 decision to abolish capital punishment, the justice minister said on Saturday, after President Tayyip Erdogan raised the death penalty in connection with the cause of this week’s wildfires.
Capital punishment was struck from the constitution in the early years of Erdogan’s rule. But after a suspected deliberate blaze destroyed 4,500 hectares (11,119 acres) of Aegean coastal forest, Erdogan said tougher justice was needed.
Authorities have said that a suspect detained in connection with the fire has admitted to causing it. The blaze, in woodland near the resort of Marmaris, has been contained, authorities said on Saturday.
After visiting the scene on Friday, Erdogan said the punishment for burning forests should be “intimidating, and if that’s a death sentence, it’s a death sentence.”
Speaking to reporters in the eastern town of Agri on Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the president’s comments “are instructions to us.”
“We have started working on it as the ministry,” Bozdag said, adding that the current punishment for starting wildfires was 10 years in prison, rising to a possible life sentence if part of organized crime.
The country’s first big blaze of the summer began on Tuesday and conjured memories of last year’s fires which ravaged 140,000 hectares of countryside, the worst on record.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Thursday that the detained suspect had admitted to burning down the forest out of frustration due to family issues.
Local officials told Reuters in recent days that authorities lacked the necessary equipment and personnel for another summer of fires.
On Friday, Forestry Minister Vahit Kirisci said 88 percent of forest fires in Turkey were started by people.

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry
Updated 25 June 2022

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry

Groups in Spain and Morocco push for border deaths inquiry
  • The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead but the figure could not immediately be confirmed
  • APDHA, a human rights group based in Andalusia, and a joint statement released by five rights organizations in Morocco also called for inquiries

MADRID: Human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco have called on both countries to investigate the deaths of at least 18 Africans and injuries suffered by dozens more who attempted to scale the border fence that surrounds Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa.
Moroccan authorities said the casualties occurred when a “stampede” of people tried to climb the iron fence that separates Melilla and Morocco. In a statement released Friday, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said 76 civilians were injured along with 140 Moroccan security officers.
Local authorities cited by Morocco’s official MAP news agency said the death toll increased to 18 after several migrants died in the hospital. The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead, but the figure could not immediately be confirmed.
The association also shared videos on social media that appeared to show dozens of migrants lying on the ground, many of them motionless and a few bleeding, as Moroccan security forces stood over them.
“They were left there without help for hours, which increased the number of deaths,” the human rights group said on Twitter. It called for a “comprehensive” investigation.
In another of the association’s videos, a Moroccan security officer appeared to use a baton to strike a person lying on the ground.
In a statement released late Friday, Amnesty International expressed its “deep concern” over the events at the border.
“Although the migrants may have acted violently in their attempt to enter Melilla, when it comes to border control, not everything goes,” Esteban Beltrán, the director of Amnesty International Spain, said. “The human rights of migrants and refugees must be respected and situations like that seen cannot happen again.”
APDHA, a human rights group based in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and a joint statement released by five rights organizations in Morocco also called for inquiries.
A spokesperson for the Spanish government’s office in Melilla said that around 2,000 people had attempted to make it across the border fence but were stopped by Spanish Civil Guard Police and Moroccan forces on either side of the border fence. A total 133 migrants made it across the border.


Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun
Updated 25 June 2022

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun

Iranian girl, 4, dies after being left in car under summer sun
  • Parents forgot the girl due to ‘stress’ about the funeral they were attending

LONDON: A 4-year-old Iranian girl has died after her parents left her in their car for hours while they attended a funeral service, local government officials reported.

The child, whose forename Sadia has been released, traveled with her family to Ramhormoz, a city in the east of the country, as temperatures hit 49 degrees Celsius.

Her parents allegedly left her in the car for the entire service because she fell asleep on the way to the funeral.

Local media reported that they forgot about her because they were “stressed” about the funeral.

Dr. Gholamreza Haidarnejad, from the city’s forensics department, said Sadia died from heat stroke and suffocation, which was complicated by stress. A police investigation has been launched.


EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days
Updated 25 June 2022

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days

EU’s Borrell says Iran nuclear talks to resume in coming days
  • France urged Tehran to take advantage of Borrell’s visit to restore the pact while it remained possible

DUBAI: Talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal will resume in the coming days, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Saturday during a visit to Tehran.
“We will resume the talks on the JCPOA in the coming days,” Borrell told a news conference in the Iranian capital, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

Borrell met Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday, Iranian state TV reported, as the bloc seeks to break an impasse between Tehran and Washington over reinstating a nuclear pact.
The United States said earlier in June it was awaiting a constructive response from Iran on reviving the 2015 deal — under which Iran restricted its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions — without “extraneous” issues.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian last week called on Washington, which exited the deal and then imposed crippling sanctions on Tehran during the Trump administration in 2018, to “be realistic.”
It appeared on the brink of revival in March when the EU, which is coordinating negotiations, invited ministers to Vienna to seal it after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.
But the talks have since been bogged down, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list.
Two officials, one Iranian and one European, told Reuters ahead of Borrell’s trip that “two issues including one on sanctions remained to be resolved,” comments that Iran’s foreign ministry has neither denied nor confirmed.
France, a party to the deal, on Friday urged Tehran to take advantage of Borrell’s visit to restore the pact while it remained possible.


Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources
Updated 25 June 2022

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources

Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in West Bank: Palestinian sources
  • Mohammad Hamad, 16, was shot and wounded near the village of Silwad

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian teenager died from his wounds hours after being shot by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian sources said Saturday.
Mohammad Hamad, 16, was shot and wounded on Friday evening near the village of Silwad, near Ramallah in the northern West Bank, and died hours later, a Silwad councillor told AFP. The Israeli military did not immediately comment.
The teenager was near a road leading to the neighboring settlement of Ofra when he was wounded by Israeli soldiers, the councillor said.
His death comes amid a spike in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Nineteen people, mostly Israeli civilians — including 18 inside Israel and a Jewish settler — have been killed in attacks by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs since late March.
Israeli security forces have responded with raids inside Israel and in the West Bank in which three Israeli Arab attackers and at least 46 Palestinians have been killed.
Among those killed were suspected militants but also non-combatants, including an Al Jazeera journalist who was covering a raid in Jenin.