by, Iakovos Alhadeff | i.a.
The Conflict in Ukraine
The conflict in Ukraine is only a part of the energy war between Russia and United States. Europe is very poor in terms of energy resources, but very rich in all other aspects. Both U.S.A. and Russia want to dominate the European energy market, since this does not only involve economic gains, but aslo increased diplomatic power. Energy is very important for all developed economies, and energy providers normally have political power over energy recipients.
Russia is the richest country in natural gas reserves and the number one oil producer. It is not however the richest country in oil reserves. Please note that the richest countries in energy reserves are not necessarily the largest energy producers too. At the following Wikipedia link you can see Gazprom’s European market shares. Gazprom is the Russian state owned natural gas giant, and on average it holds 30% of the European natural gas market.
Moreover Russia supplies a large part of the oil consumed by European countries. This energy dominance is a big pain for United States, since it gives Russia political power over NATO members. Therefore the Americans wish to provide Europe with alternative sources of energy, and more specifically with alternative sources of natural gas, since natural gas is most of the time delivered through pipelines, and it creates a greater dependency on the part of the energy recipient than oil, which is normally transferred with ships.
The Nord Stream and the South Stream Pipelines
Most of Gazprom’s natural gas, approximately 80% of it, is distributed to Europe through Ukraine. At the following link you can read about the disputes between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas distribution.
That’s the reason the Americans are so keen to help anti- Russian and NATO friendly Ukrainians. The Russians on the other hand do not like this dependency on Ukraine, and have developed the North Stream pipeline which delivers Gazprom’s natural gas directly to Germany through the Baltic Sea, thus bypassing Ukraine. You can see at the following BBC map the North Stream pipeline with Green color.
Source BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-14803065)
Russia wants to also develop another pipeline, the South Stream, which you can see with the blue color on the map, which will again bypass Ukraine and will deliver Gazprom’s natural gas to Southern Europe. When both these pipelines will be ready, the Russians will not depend anymore on Ukraine to supply the whole Europe with Russian natural gas. As you can see the South Stream will cross the Black Sea, and from Bulgaria will distribute natural gas to Southern Europe.
To develop the South Stream pipeline, Russia needs the help of Bulgaria, and also the help of Turkey, since the Exclusive Economic Zones of both Bulgaria and Turkey are involved. One, but not the only, reason there was so much noise about Crimea was because of Crimea’s effects on the Ukraine and Russian Exclusive Economic Zones. Crimea is the piece of land under Ukraine on map 2
As you can see, if Ukraine controls Crimea, Ukraine would have a saying on the South Stream crossing the Black Sea, since it would fall inside Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone. But if Crimea belongs to Russia, Ukraine does not have a saying on the construction of the pipeline. And Russia annexed Crimea as we all know. And as you can see on map 3, from whowhatwhy.com, which is accurate, the Russians designed the pipeline nearer Turkey to totally avoid Ukraine.
The Europeans are divided on the issue of the South Stream. As you can see at the following Reuters’ link,
some countries perceive it as a positive development i.e. Germany, Italy, Bulgaria. The important point to note is that once the South Stream is ready, together with the North Stream, will allow Gazprom to supply with natural gas the whole European Continent without relying on the Ukrainian pipelines. Moreover, as you can see on the following Wikipedia link, Ukraine is the 26th richest country in the world in terms of natural gas reserves, which further adds to its geostrategic position.
U.S.A. and Europe
As I already said, the Americans and the Europeans want to have many sources of natural gas, in order to limit the economic but mainly the diplomatic influence that Russia enjoys over NATO members, and which arises by the 30% of Gazprom’s share in the European market. It also has to do with competition issues. The more energy options a country has the cheaper it buys its energy.
The Americans and the Europeans want to bring natural gas from the energy rich Caspian Sea to Europe. The Nabucco Pipeline and the Pans Adriatic Pipeline are two of the possible routes. The Nabucco pipeline which you can see with red color on map 1 will bring Caspian natural gas to Europe through Turkey. The other possible pipeline, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline TAP, which you can see on map 4 below, will again bring natural gas from Caspian Sea to Europe through Turkey.
Turkey and Iran
It is clear how important Turkey is for the Americans and Europeans, since both the Nabucco and the TAP pipelines will have to pass through its territories to deliver Caspian natural gas to European markets. And I am not talking for the obvious economic benefits. I am talking about Turkey’s increased geopolitical power. It is very important for the Americans and Europeans to have Turkey on their side, so if they decide to take sanctions against Russia and there is a disturbance in natural gas supply, Turkey will not cut off supplies from the Caspian Sea too to support Russia. Currently it is very painful for the Americans and the Europeans to take sanctions against Russia, since Gazprom provides a large share of the natural gas consumed in the European markets. As you can see on map 5 below
Iran’s is also very important for the Americans and the Europeans. Iran is situated on the Caspian Sea and it will be very difficult for the Americans to ensure stable natural gas supply to Europe if they face a hostile Iran. Moreover Iran is a very energy rich country, one of the richest ones in fact, and its natural gas could be transferred to Europe too. The Nabucco and TAP pipelines are supposed to transfer natural gas from NATO friendly Azerbaijan, but other countries can be connected on the pipeline network too. Therefore both Iran and Turkey are extremely important for the American and European efforts to provide Europe with abundant non Russian natural gas.
The increase in Turkey’s and Iran’s geopolitical power poses a lethal threat to Israel. You have to keep in mind that Turkey and Iran are two of Israel’s lethal enemies. Iran’s goal is to eliminate Israel, and Turkey, an ex Israel ally, does not seem to be further away from this view, under the leadership of Recep Erdogan. Actually everybody knows that it is mainly Iran, Turkey and Qatar that support and provide funding to Hamas, which is recognized by U.S.A., the E.E., Japan and other countries as a terrorist organization. Hamas runs the Gaza Strip, and came to power with elections in Gaza. It is Hamas that fires all these rockets that you hear about from Gaza to Israel. At the following article you can read about the funding of Hamas.
In this changing geopolitical map, Israel does not seem to be able to count on United States for its survival, as it has for so many years done. This has already caused a deterioration in the American- Israeli relations, and an improvement in the Russian-Israeli relations. You have to keep in mind that rich natural gas fields were also found in the Mediterranean See, in the region between Greece, Turkey and Israel. This could be also an energy alternative for Europe as you can see on map 6
The problem is that it is very difficult and very costly to build a pipeline network through the Mediterranean See, if Turkey is involved in the project. But with the current political situation between Turkey and Israel this does not seem to be feasible, at least not for Israel’s part of energy.
The natural gas found in the Israeli sea, might be the only chip that Israel has in this energy hungry world. It seems that Israel is giving Russia a role in its energy wealth. At the following Bloomberg link you can see the cooperation between Gazprom and the Israelis.
It seems that in a world where Israelis cannot count on the protection of the Americans, they are moving towards Russia. They are not connected to Russia in the same way they were connected to the U.S.A., but it seems they are somewhere between these two countries. At the following Financial Times link, you can see that Israel did not vote against Russia in the U.N. resolution about Ukraine. It rather preferred to abstain.
The FT examines the causes for this behavior and at the end of the article says:
“But the strongest motivation for Israel to stay out of the Ukraine fracas lies in the present day and closer to home: Russia is a strong and growing power in the Middle East.
Israel needs to engage Moscow on several vital issues: Iran’s nuclear programme and the dismantlement of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. Moscow is the biggest foreign patron of Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and a major supplier of arms to the Middle East in general.
Behind closed doors, Israel has prevailed on Russia to refrain from supplying game-changing weapons to Syria that could land in the hands of Hizbollah, its best-armed regional enemy.”
Moreover as you can see at the following Wikipedia link, Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister, is a Russian Jew. He was born in Russia, served in the Russian Army, and later immigrated to Israel with his family. It is “strange” that the Israelis chose a Russian soldier as their Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Some people are confused because the U.S. is still giving Israel some financial aid. For example they recently offered Israel 200 million dollars in terms of financial aid. But Israel was receiving approximately 3 billion dollars a year in American aid some years ago. This 200 million dollars, is some of the last money Israel is receiving from United States as you can read at the following article
For Israel there is another big problem, namely the pipelines that will transfer natural gas from the Persian Gulf to European markets, and more specifically the pipelines that will transfer natural gas from the Persian Gulf’s South Pars/North Dome field. South Pars/North Dome is the richest natural gas filed in the world and it lies between Qatar and Iran. It is jointly owned by Qatar and Iran. You can see it on map 7.
These pipelines are the real cause of the current war in Iraq and Syria. Muslims are divided in Sunis and Shias. And the Shias want to transfer the natural gas through the route Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon-Mediterranean Sea- Europe and the Sunis through the route Qatar-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria-Turkey-Europe. You can see both the Suni (purple color) and Shia (red color) pipelines at the following map.
Sunis and Shias are currently fighting in Syria and Iraq. As you can see on map 9, if Sunis take Syria and Iraq, (where the majority consists of Shias) Shias cannot go ahead with their pipeline. The only other route to reach Europe would be through Turkey. But Turkey is on the Suni side. Similarly, if Shias control Syria and Iraq, Sunis cannot construct a pipeline that conects Qatar to Turkey.
The problem for Israel is that Americans are supporting the Sunis in this conflict. Americans are very good friends with Qatar, one of the owners of South Pars/ North Dome. The Russians support the Shia pipeline i.e. Iran.
It is known that Qatar is one of the countries that heavily fund Hamas, which is the terrorist organization that throws rockets from Gaza to Israel, and it is officially recognized by U.S.A. and Europe as a terrorist organization as you can see on the first paragraph of the wikipedia link,
Therefore Israel cannot count on the Americans at least for as long as they back their lethal enemies. Because they consider Hamas as a terrorist organization, but it does not seem that this is how Obama feels.
On the other hand, Iran is with Russia on this fight, and together they support Assad in Syria. But Iran is also funding Hamas. But it is in direct competition with Qatar on this pipeline fight. But it is Iran’s nuclear program that is the lethal threat to Israelis. And it is the Russians that control the nuclear program of the Iranians. And the Americans do not seem very interested in preventing Iran from developing its nuclear arsenal. As you can see on the fourth paragraph of the following Wikipedia link, it is the Russians that developed the first nuclear factory in Iran.
And as you can see on the following Reuters link, the Russians will develop another 8 nuclear reactors in Iran.
If you also take into account that Obama is a president who seems to have strong ties with the Muslim world but also with the Muslim Brotherhood, it should not be a big surprise that the Israelis have a Russian soldier as their Minister of Foreign Affairs. You should also have a look at this video about how U.S.A. indirectly helps Hamas.
You should also do some research on the relations of the U.S.A. and Qatar, and on the relation of Qatar, Iran and Turkey with Hamas. It will help you understand the current geopolitical situation.
For example, at the following Reuters link,
you will read about the 11 billion dollar deal between U.S.A. and Qatar. Obama is selling Qatar patriot misiles. And Qatar is funding Hamas. And the primary goal of Hamas is to eliminate Israel.
It seems that the 21st century will be a very difficult one for Israel.
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