Monday, January 10, 2011

Another Border Issue: Something to Watch

The article below defines a new, emerging issue - one that could eventually become highly significant in the region. It has been receiving more and more attention, and now it looks like another scenario that we should watch closely. It involves Israel's new (enormous) oil and gas findings offshore.

UN Will Help Set Israel-Lebanon Sea Borders

In all seriousness (it would be too easy to be sarcastic with this) - we now have the UN involved and that alone usually leads to significant complications:

Less than a week after a United Nations spokesman said the international body would stay out of the issue of the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon, the U.N. has reversed itself.

U.N. Special coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams told reporters Monday in Beirut the country was entitled to benefit from its natural energy resources. He added that the U.N. would help the country mark its maritime border with Israel as a means of ensuring that Israel did not prevent Lebanon from developing its natural reserves.

“We are talking about two different things: coastal waters and a disputed boundary,” the spokesman said on Wednesday. He pointed to the mandate of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) under Resolution 1701 as a guideline for the decision.

The statement came in response to a request sent by Lebanon to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, asking him to stop Israel from any further drilling for offshore gas and oil reserves in its northern coastal waters.

Beirut claims that Israel's most recent discovery, the mammoth Leviathan gas field, comprising some 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, is at least partly located in Lebanese waters. Israel denies the claim.

The letter sent to Ban by Lebanese Foreign Minister Ali Shami asked him to “do everything possible to ensure Israel does not exploit Lebanon's hydrocarbon resources, which fall within Lebanon's economic zone and delineated in the maps the foreign ministry submitted to the United Nations in 2010.”

No formal naval border exists between the two countries, nor has any international committee been established to negotiate one.

This is interesting and worth watching for several reasons.

First - as we have discussed before, we know that these large oil and gas findings in Israel are threatening Russian plans for energy dominance in the region. The best source of information regarding this aspect is the book "Epicenter" by Joel Rosenberg.

Second - We know that Lebanon is directly under the influence of Syria and Iran via their proxy, Hezbollah. We also know that Russia has tremendous influence over both Iran and Syria. Many of us have been waiting for the Russian influence to exert itself and we may be seeing the beginnings of this effort. These findings are simply too big for Russia to ignore.

Third - It has been estimated that the recent oil/gas findings just represent the tip of the iceberg; good reasons exist to believe there is much more gas and oil under Israeli soil.

Fourth - We know from examples that are too many to count - that the UN is no friend of Israel.

With that in mind, this second article brings even more interest to this situation:

Russian Company Seeks Stake in Israeli Gas Field

Right on schedule.

Russia's Gazprom is in talks to invest in rights to develop Israel's offshore gas field, according to Globes. Gazprom executives may purchase a 50 percent stake in an Israeli company with development rights.

Executives have met with Chaim Lebovits, president of ACC International Holdings, which is a partner in Med Ashdod exploration licenses.

If the sale goes forward, the company plans to begin drilling in early 2011, a senior manager said.

The Houston-based Noble Energy firm, drilling for Israeli firm Delek, discovered billions of cubic meters of natural gas off the coast of Haifa. Assessments conducted this summer showed that the gas found could allow Israel to provide its own energy needs for at least two decades.

Hizbullah and the Lebanese government have claimed that the gas reserves lie in Lebanese territorial waters, and have threatened war.

At least they are doing this legally and without bloodshed (so far). The fear is that once the UN gets involved, the situation will become unnecessarily complicated and most likely we'll see rulings that go against Israel.

Based on past history we can expect that. We can also expect more and more Russian involvement, either directly or via its proxies in the region (Lebanon, Syria, Iran, etc.)

Could this be the "hook in the jaw" of Gog-MaGog as described in Ezekiel 38-39?

Stay tuned - this situation presents yet another issue to resolve in this complex region and it could end up being yet another stimulus to conflict. We'll see.


Expected Imminently said...

Definitely one of the hooks Scott as it is plural.

Ezek38: 4 “I will turn you back’ is translated from ‘shuwb’ meaning ‘to turn about’. I may be mistaken, but I am reasonably sure this word is the Hebrew form used as ‘repent’ comparative to the Greek ‘metaneo’ literally meaning ‘a change of mind’.
Followed by another verb, to return and to do, (anything) is the same as to do again; and ‘nathan’ meaning ‘to give, put, set’, which as a verb, enforces that idea to ‘go back’.

I am labouring this because the text infers Gog has already tried something previously and is made to change his mind somewhat reluctantly? This may refer to Psalm 83; Isaiah 17, even Damascus? If Russia is behind those attacks; seeing the failure, apart from diplomacy, there may be enough ‘christian’ teaching from Russian Orthodoxy to make the leaders wary about trying it again?

Scott said...

I agree - in fact I have always felt that the attack would be "multifactorial" - including the access to the Mediterranean, the food production capabilities, the minerals at the Dead Sea, and of course gas and oil. I don't see one specific factor involved in terms of the "loot and plunder" of the invading forces.