Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Stage Is Being Set For The Wars To Come In The Middle East: More Military Ships Arrive In Mediterranean

An Ever Increasing Number of Military Ships Arrives to the Eastern Mediterranean

The last couple weeks in the in the Eastern Mediterranean could remind a casual observer some sort of a military parade, with members of the US-led brining an ever increasing number of troops to the region.

The number of warships flying various flags that are being dispatched as a show of force to the Eastern Mediterranean increases has been increasing on the daily basis. 

The warships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, including HNLMS De Ruyter of the Royal Netherlands Navy, Greece’s Elli,HMCS Ville de Qu├ębec of the Royal Canadian Navy, four American Tomahawk wielding destroyers – USS Carney, USS Ross, USS Winston S. Churchill and USS Bulkeley. Even the flagship of the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet USS Mount Whitney made an appearance in the region together with at least three of the multi-purpose Los Angeles class nuclear submarines, one of which was USS Newport News, which was previously stationed in Gibraltar.

Further still, this massive force was then joined by the American carrier strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, bring along the missile cruiser USS Normandy together with a number of destroyers.

France has also been keeping its FREMM class frigate Auvergne stationed for a long time in those waters packed with military ships. Further still, Germany’s FGS Augsburg passed through the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea on September 21.
In the meantime, corporate media sources are desperate in their attempt to persuade us that the fact that such an unprecedented number of military ships was deployed the Eastern Mediterranean must be attributed to the ongoing conflict in Syria. They argue that this is an intimidation tool that must deter Damscus from staging a totally illogical “chemical attack” in Idlib, as if there was a single viable explanation as to why Syrian authorities would even consider such an option.

But is this the only reason for such an urgent concentration of Western armed forces in the Eastern Mediterranean, and what is the actual rationale behind such an unprecedented event?

One must be mindful of the fact that the conflict in Syria has been raging for years and at this point it’s approaching the end game. To launch a transition to peaceful life and launch a discussion of the post-war arrangement of the country Bashar al-Assad’s has to reestablish control over the last Governorate still occupied by radical Islamists – Idlib. The prospects of the peaceful settlement of the Syrian conflict and the situation around Idlib was greatly facilitated by the joint plan of action agreed upon by Russia’s president with his Turkish counterpart mid-September.

Therefore, the West has no real pretext to carry on the concentration of its armed forces in the Eastern Mediterranean, since it has no way of attributing this build up to the present situation in Syria. Nevertheless, this process continues. At the same time, the Pentagon has recently intensified negotiations with Greece on expanding its military presence in the territory of this European country.
So, what is this all about?
A careful analysis of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean shows that in the nearest future a new conflict can erupt in this region that is going to be much more violent that all of yesterday’s hostilities, since it’s basically going to be a free for all engagement. 

 In comparison, the still raging Syrian conflict will look like a minor occurrence in comparison. The driving force behind this future struggle is the huge hydrocarbon deposits of the Eastern Mediterranean, which is believed to hold world’s third largest natural gas reserves. The West that has effectively established tight control of well over a half of all energy deposits of the Persian Gulf, has been willing to jump the gun in a bid to get a grip on the Eastern Mediterranean, but was unsure how bloody the future battle for local resources was going to get. However, the clock is ticking now, as ExxonMobil is going launch an exploration mission in the gas fields that Cyprus a part of its exclusive economic zone. On top of that, Total, Shell, Eni, Qatargas, Noble Enerji, Kogas have all been planning to start gas production in the region.

Predictably, Turkey, too, has no intention to sit and watch idly, as its has also increased its military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean dramatically, while blocking all attempts by Italy’s Eni to start drilling, as Ankara argued that this company was acting in violation of its exclusive rights. In turn, Ankara is planning to start gas production on the shelf on its own, as it has its own drillship Fatih that is going to by assisted by a number of other vessels hired for drilling and exploration works. It is possible that the start of drilling by Turkey in the disputed areas, which are now remain under control of the Greek authorities in South Cyprus can lead to a rapid exacerbation of hostilities in the region.

Syria, too, is going to produce gas on his shelf, as it has already signed contracts with Russian and Chinese hydrocarbon producers. According to the US Geological Survey, the Syrian shelf can contain up to 700 billion cubic meters of gas, which two times the amount found so far on the mainland. As Syria’s minister of petroleum and mineral resources, Ali Ghanem stated, gas production on the shelf will be launched as early as 2019.
So far, the only countries that have begun production on the shelf are Israel and Egypt. Lebanon is still being drugged by the licensing process, but it has a dispute with Israel about the rights for the shelf, so its prospects in this race look grim.
It’s clear as the leading international players are going to compete for exclusive rights on gas production in the Eastern Mediterranean, a number of countries that have had no experience in this business will try to get their own peace of the pie. This make the situation that is rather unpredictable so much more volatile.
But, of course, the true motivation for the exacerbation of tensions in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean are much more complex. There’s a fierce geopolitical competition going between the great powers for the future of a new world order.

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