Showdown in Cyprus

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While world attention has been focused on a Turkish-Israeli military showdown over aid flotillas to Gaza, a possibly even more dangerous dispute is unfolding between Turkey and Israel-allied Cyprus. Tensions between the two countries are at their highest level in years, as the Greek Cypriot government in the divided island’s southern half went ahead with plans to have Texas-based Noble Energy start offshore exploration for natural gas in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

As Noble moved its drilling rig last Thursday from Israeli waters, where it had also been exploring for natural gas, to Cyprus’ 800,000-acre Aphrodite field, located off its south-eastern coast, Turkish warships and aircraft shadowed the transfer. The Turks, however, stayed outside of Cyprus’ territorial waters and airspace and did not interfere with the American company’s operation.

Noble received an exploration license for the Aphrodite field from the Greek Cypriot regime, and test drilling was expected to start on Monday. The Aphrodite field borders Israeli waters where “massive gas fields” were discovered.

Turkey strongly opposes the Greek Cypriot exploration plan, ostensibly because it does not include, and therefore will not benefit, Turkish northern Cyprus. It has called on the Greek Cypriots to halt all exploration.

“We will be very cautious in this process; all of our steps will be taken as retaliation and [in response] to Greek Cypriot moves,” a Turkish foreign ministry official said.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 after a Greek Cypriot-mounted coup sought unification with Greece. The island had previously experienced inter-communal violence. As a result of the invasion, more than 180,000 Greek Cypriots were evicted from the island’s northern half, while 50,000 Turkish Cypriots were also forced from their homes. The island was then divided in two, and the UN patrols the boundary, called the “Blue Line,” that was established between the two communities.

In the Turkish northern zone, a seperate government was set up. Called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), it is only recognised by Turkey, which exercises control over it. Since 1974, Turkey has moved thousands of settlers into the island’s northern half.

The Greek Cypriot regime in the southern part of the island, with its capital in Nicosia, is the internationally  recognised government. Called the Republic of Cyprus, it has a seat at the UN and was granted European Union (EU) membership in 2004. Since Turkey embarked on a confrontational course with Israel two years ago, Greek Cyprus and the Jewish state have drawn closer together. Greece, the other member of this new, eastern Mediterranean partnership, has said it “will throw its weight” behind Cyprus’ gas exploration project.

Last year, as an indication of Israel’s and Cyprus’ close co-operation, they signed an agreement delineating their economic zones for exploration purposes. According to one report, Israel has also offered Cyprus two modern warships and is rebuilding Cyprus’ only naval base after its near destruction by a munitions explosion. An Israeli company, Delek, a partner of Noble’s in exploring Israeli waters, also has an option to drill in the Aphrodite field.

In calling on the Greek Cypriot regime to halt exploration, Turkish officials did not engage in the kind of incendiary language their prime minister, Recep Erdogan, did last week on his so-called ‘Arab Spring’ tour of North Africa. At a meeting of the 22-member Arab League in Cairo, he said Israel “must pay a price for its crimes and aggression it has committed.” In Tunisia last Thursday, Erdogan continued his bellicose statements and issued Israel a warning.

“Israel cannot do whatever it wants in the eastern Mediterranean. They will see what our decisions will be on this subject. Our navy attack ships can be there at any moment,” he said.

Before leaving on his ‘Arab Spring’ tour, Erdogan grabbed the world’s attention by threatening to have Turkish warships escort the next aid flotilla to Gaza, challenging the Israeli blockade. The Turkish government, however, has refrained from a military challenge in the Cyprus dispute – so far. But a German newspaper reports that in an interview with the government-friendly Turkish newspaper Zaman, Turkey’s EU minister, Egemen Bagis, had earlier threatened  military action to stop Cyprus’ exploration plans.

“It is for this that we have a navy,” said Bagis. “We have trained our soldiers for this; we have equipped a navy for this. All options are on the table; anything can happen.”

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  • Mark

    Turkey is not energy poor, Azerbaijan is full of oil and gas and they are Turks, Iran is second reserves in the area, north Iraq is where Turkish companies are active, Balck sea is been explored and may hold reserves, Russia in the north, it is Israel and Cyprus is dreaming that they can ship that oil in which way? what pipe line? ans who is buying?
    this is great news for Turkey, now they can divide th island for good, anex it, pill out of sick union of Europe,about to go down like a damino, Israel wants to build ties with Greek dispite Turks it is a long term mistake,but hey what do I know" Israel is building naval port in Greek Cyprus maybe Turkey should build bases in Lebonan, and Syria, and support Assad Rejime and help Iran to build nuclear weapon, what is good for the goose it is good for the :"? they say

    • UCSPanther

      Move to Iran or Turkey, traitor…

  • SHmuelHaLevi

    The Turks have been given or are holding in their soil 90 nuclear bombs since the Cold War era, B-61 models as well as aircraft able to deliver them.
    Recently Gates and the WH occupant extended that arrangement.
    Israel exclusive economic zone and oil as well as natural gas fields of ours are also threatened by the NATO member Turkey. NATO AS A WHOLE IS directly responsible.
    AT INCIRLIK TAFB there are also 5000 US Air Force folk.
    Should Turkey attack either Israel or allied fields, ships, platforms or Israel itself, the response will be all embracing.
    It is incumbent upon the US-NATO to remove those bombs. yesterday.

  • Spinoneone

    Turkey is looking to regain some of the power and prestige it enjoyed when it was the Ottoman Empire. Erdogan appears to believe that the Middle East is now ripe for some Turkish intervention. However, the U.S. has already indicated it is not going to help Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. Consider also that the Greek government could use a good distraction right now for its people, and Turkey is always a good target for the Greeks. So, for now, expect lots of rhetoric and smoke out of Ankara, but not much action.

    • socal

      Russia is'nt named in the Bible if you refer to Ez. 38,39. Meshech and Tubal are found in Turkey as well as Beth- Togarmah, also named in that prophecy. Also remember that the old roman empire existed of a western portion europe and an eastern portion with its head in constantinople, TURKEY. Once again we see the Turks starting to flex their islamic muscle in a bid to revive an islamic caliphate. Its interesting to note the now cozy relationship it is cultivating with the Persians also named in that prophecy! This is going down exactly as G-D foretold in scripture.

  • StephenD

    Everything old is new again. Or as scripture puts it "There is nothing new under the sun."
    A resurgence of the Ottoman Empire, China in the East, Russia in the North; none of this should surprise us. I'm just surprised we haven't heard much about a revived Roman Empire. Oh wait, there is that pesky E.U. thingy….

  • Raymond in DC

    Were the US not led by a wuss concerned about his standing in the Muslim world, it would be reminding Turkey that it would pay dearly for any interference with, or an attack on, an American drilling platform. With all Erdogan's bluster about his warships and frigates, a more forceful president would be reminding him about something called the Sixth Fleet.

    Apropos, it's curious that Turkey – with all the news about cutting military cooperation with Israel – participated in a NATO exercise in emergency preparedness and disaster response overseen and provided by personnel from Israel's Home Command. Over 1,000 soldiers from dozens of countries took part.,7340,L-4124645

  • AntiSharia

    Gladstone was right when he railed against the "unspeakable Turk" these are among the most uncivilized people in the world. They are the perfect example for the gross hypocrisy in the world. Turkey occupies Cyprus, the world says nothing. Morocco occupies Western Sahara, the world says nothing. Azerbaijan occupies part of Armenia, the world says nothing.

    Muslims can occupy and terrorize anyone they want, Jews try to defend themselves against unrelenting attempts at genocide, and they are accused of being Nazi's.

    • Charlie

      In what world do you live in?
      The Jews occupied Palestine!

  • Michael

    Erdogan and AhMADinJihad compete for Hitler Prize Laureate.

    • Craiginhofer

      LOL. The "Hitler in Residence Chair of Foreign Relations" funded by Prince Wakadoodle of Saudi Arabia with a generous grant from Ahmadinejad and a small contribution of blunderbuss from a Turkey.

  • Dennis

    Why hasn't the World matured enough to accept that this is the 21st Century? The advanced countries are growing light years ahead in advanced knowledge, while certain "stone age" societies become parasites instead of exercising the self-control to learn how to become advanced, peaceful, and self-actualizing. Attaturk has been rejected by Erdogan's supporters. All the barbarians of the world have more excuses than "BUSH HAS BEANS"…NO, NOT THE FORMER POTUS. If these backward, warring countries would spend more time emulating even Colonial-Power, Britain, they would have food for their people, sanitation systems preventing diseases, uncontaminated drinking water, schools-colleges-universities that educate both men and women, infrastructure designed for a modern society, etc. OR, is it that they wish to follow in HAITI's footsteps?

    So, it leads me to this question: Do these countries WANT to live 1,000 or 2,000 years in the past? If so, leave the rest of us alone. If not and without our help, buy the last 50 years of Popular Mechanics / Science magazine editions and teach yourselves how to advance.


    • Chiggles

      Pretty sure it was Kipling.

  • Chris

    Even colonial power Britain? Even? One of the high points of Western civilization, mate. And make no mistake.

  • pyeatte

    We don't owe Turkey anything. They would not let us move an armoured army division through to Iraq during the Iraq war. If they start shooting, they may bite off more than they can chew, especially with Israel…and us.

  • Omar Said

    Anyone that believes our muzlim president will defend US merchant ships against Turkey are insane. On his knees to the Saudi king BHO will lay flat for the Turks. They are NATO members as is Greece, Israel is not NATO. BHO would never go against his muzlim brothers in a confrontation over Jewish gas exploring. BHO swims in the same toilet as all.

  • turkp

    seems like all Turkey-gave-me-sore-azz-too little dinky convention going on here.. move along losers.


    The cost of oil is currently around $85.92 per barrel, $1.56 per gallon. The rule of thumb has it that we should be paying about $2.56 per gallon at the pump. Why are we paying as if the cost per barrel were $143 not the $85.92 it is today?

    With the current price of $85.92 per barrel, the actual cost of the oil is $58.42. The cost of refining that is $11.17. The taxes, give to Caesar what is Caesars’, comes out to be $10.31. The marketing and distribution portion of this comes to $6.01 per barrel.

    The FTC feels that Price Gouging is afoot, and so do I.