Turkey’s strategic importance in world energy corridor

This beautiful narrative of Engin Düzgün of  Düzgün & Kırancı Law Office, is reproduced here for everyone’s benefit.  Please comment if you feel the need to.

We did publish an article with the same title in 2011. In that article we mentioned several topics and made some strategic evaluations. Since then time has proved that our evaluations were relevant. Therefore; we decided that writing this article as a follow-up to the previous one-would be appropriate. It seems that this article will be much more visionary.

Many international incidents taking place before and after the 2012 U.S.A. elections show that there are many serious changes in global energy strategies. To begin with, President Obama hosted the future leader of Chine, Xi Jinping in the U.S.A in 2011. This meeting, in fact, was likely the first step in the changing of the strategy of U.S.A.

Later, U.S.A.-Russia contacts gained importance. The messages of Obama before the elections of 2012 were quite striking. Especially those ones related to Israel. The U.S.A. kept non-reactive towards the events which started to increase before the presidential election was observed uneasily in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and especially Turkey. Even more, the Turkish Government made remarkable pressure. However, the U.S.A. preferred to keep silent until the end of the elections, as much as possible and it kept its silence for a long while after the elections.

While all these things were happening, Obama’s secret negotiation messages in the aspect of relationships with Iran were also remarkable. Upon Obama winning the elections it was clear that the U.S.A. had made serious changes in Middle East policy. Some countries (Turkey being one of them) however, didn’t see or didn’t want to see the upcoming signal of these changes. And, the exact process became clearer in 2013.

In this aspect, Henry Kissinger’s remarks about Israel were likely an indicator of the idea that Middle East would be reformed differently and that the U.S.A. would take its concern about that region elsewhere.

In the international arena, the following remarks on the new strategies of U.S.A. were to be heard:

The U.S.A. will not be at the forefront in the sense of political incidents around the world,

It will just watch the events behind the scenes without interfering with them,

It will avoid the moves that can ruin the balances,

It will stay at the back front till a new balance is obtained in regional crises,

It will wait for the local actors to take action in the region of the crises,

It will not be exposed to blame; it will lose the position of scapegoat.

Of course the economical unrest that the U.S.A. is going through has a role in its new approach, but the U.S.A tried to show that it doesn’t want to be ruined in wars that it clearly cannot win any more. Because: the economical balances on the world are to be transferred to the East, and the sun rising from the East is to lighten the world more and more as time passes. Even if some countries are not pleased, this is the case.

However; in this period, Turkey’s insisting attitudes about Syria were taking in the reactions of both the U.S.A-EU and Russia. The social reaction called “Gezi Olayları”, that started before the end of May 2013 in Turkey, was accepted as a warning to Turkey about its insists, because these events targeted the government directly and there were rumors about foreign interference. Of course; Syria is not the sole reason. The economical aspect was at the forefront.

The fact that Ruhani, who is more moderate compared to Ahmedi Nejad, was elected in Iranian elections just before the G-8 summit and the modest messages given to the world after the elections were also remarkable.

Moreover, we can see that the actions related to this have become more observable in the 2013 G-8 summits. It was seen that, in a period when the events were on the peak point in Syria, all G-8 members had an agreement on Syria. Russia did evacuate the Tarsus Naval Base in Syria and declared that this naval base didn’t have a strategic value which Russia was agreed on either during the G-8 summit or before it.

Just after this event, the Government of Muslim Brothers was abolished by the military interference and Mursi was arrested in July 2013. The most severe reaction was from Turkey on this subject. However, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who had given the biggest support to Turkey about Syria left Turkey alone by announcing that they were in favour of the Military which took the government. Even the new government of Egypt took a negative position towards Turkey and had to withdraw its ambassador in Turkey.

In this particular case, the Turkish Government had a strong resistance to take the international community under its pressure. But, the international platforms never called the military action a “coup”. And it was indicating that the international community were going through a structural change and the policies of the region were also going through a change. Namely, the U.S.A. was focusing its interest on the Pacific rather than the Middle East. Except for Turkey, there was a consensus among the actors. (In fact this showed that U.S.A. origined Greater Middle East Initiative had lost its functionality which hasn’t seemed possible since the very beginning.)

After these events, Russia played its card of Syria and Syria accepted to open its chemical weapons to supervision which also seemed to have been planned much beforehand. Upon these developments, Turkey, being kept out of international treaties, saw that it was actually a great foreign policy accident in a much clearer way. This was an indicator that the Turkish Government must revise its approaches on foreign policies. Additionally, the international community was not in favor of a new war in the region. It was not remotely possible while the world economy was having such great quakes.

As the U.S.A. declared it would not be involved in the “wars of others” in nearly the same time period was meaningful, in a way. Obama-Ruhani approaches in United Nations meetings were showing that the plan was going on in a regular way. But the Turkish Government, which had been experiencing a different attitude since the beginning, was left alone and out during these developments. Even if the Turkish Government called the situation “Valuable Loneliness”, it was clear that it was not the case. The treaties the United Nations signed after Iran accepted to restrict its nuclear program in return for more moderate sanctions put an end to this subject.

All the incidents mentioned above clearly show that the game changed in the Middle East and the players will also be different. That is to say the strategies on Mid-East and Caucasians will be placed on a new base. The EU will obtain the gas and patrol it needs through Russia-Azerbaijan and Iran. Again, China seems to have obtained enough assurance in sense of its energy shortage.

However; while all this was happening, the Turkish Government’s intention to sign Patrol Treaties with Barzani who is the Leader of North Iraq despite the reactions from U.S.A. and Iraq Central Government created serious handicaps for Turkey. The Iraq Central Government stated how sensitive they were about this issue by declaring they could see it as a reason for war. The hottest point in this issue is that U.S.A. has reactions towards the fact that the wealth of North Iraq patrols will be kept in Turkey. Again; in the core of the issue are the energy and the fights to share the wealth of energy.

Despite this, Turkey continues to be the most important country in the Middle East. It still protects is current “Bridge” position in the energy and money corridor between U.K. and China. The real matter of question here is how and under what conditions Turkey will take roles in the newly created plan of the region. It will not be wrong to claim that the reason for the storm in this subject is the Turkish Government’s effort to determine the role for itself on its own. Turkey will have 3 important elections within 2 years. This case has become the “matter of existence” for the current Turkish Government. Especially, in the aspect judgmental operations held towards the members of Turkish Government in these days, this case has become more serious.

How Turkey will take part in new being created energy concept will become clear according to its policies in the future. It seems as if the Turkish Government will encounter serious resistance in the case of keeping up its current attitude. It cannot be denied that the Turkish government’s resistance has the right sides in the sense of national interest . This situation already creates disturbance in the international arena. Because the President of the Turkish State, Honorable Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s address to Putin during the visit of Russia in 2013 November using the expression: ”Permit in us shanghai cooperation organization” , resulted in opinions that Turkish government doesn’t have certain position about foreign policy’s arguments and Turkey is in ambiguity. It is not exaggerationn to say that this expression’s reflections which can be call as axial dislocation will create a cluster bomb effect. We are not discussing whether it is right or not.

It is still ambiguous as to what kind of a political position Turkey will have after the coming elections. However, Turkey has to apply correct policies in the changing concept of energy and in case of the changing geo-politic and geo-strategic conditions. In order not to have any problem about energy, Turkey has to give necessary importance to not only the petroleum and natural gas but also other energy sources that it already possesses.

Turkey needs to make radical changes that can guide the next government in future in the strategy plan created in 2009, and this plan should be turned into a State Policy by giving remarkable importance to local energy resources. Because: we think Turkey needs to have strong argument in hands in case of possible energy wars. Otherwise, it can be neither a regional nor a global actor but to just be an implementer of policies.

However: since the beginning of 2012 Turkey made a refrain about renewable energy and several energy investments were not allowed. The problems still goes on especially both because there haven’t been legislations to accelerate investments and investors haven’t been satisfied about for their actions. Yet; these problems can be eliminated with the help of some simple regulations.

Beside this, it seems that there are serious plans about coal and the government will give support to this. In a statement from the government in summer months of 2013, it was reported that until 2023, 36 billion dollars investment on thermal power plants is planned. Considering that an average plant costs 2-2,5 billion dollars; this number makes nearly 15-18 thermal plant. Of course that depends on how many MW those plants would have. Again in another statement by Taner Yıldız, Minister of Energy, in November 2013, it was shared with the press that a French Energy Firm- GDF SUEZ- is planning a 7-8 billion Euro energy investment in Turkey and it focuses on thermal plants. Moreover; in international publications it is reported that Turkey is among the countries where Canada is planning to make investments on shale gas.

At the core of the matter, an axial shift is not a matter in energy policies in the world and there has been a serious consensus about the distribution of energy sources. It cannot be foreseen how long this case will last. However; the discomfort of Israel that feels its security in danger after these treaties and that may show survival reflexes, may cause serious changes in regional policies in forthcoming years. We believe that this possibility is strong.

In this sense, Israel will not feel secure in case of an Iran, which will be richer and stronger due to the decreasing sanctions, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Of course, the fact that the U.S.A. will protect its interests will be effective on this issue. Again, it seems possible that Israel will have serious problems with Iran, Iraq and Syria unless there is a rational recovery in Turkey’s foreign policies. We think that 2016 will be a year in which the world should be very careful.

In spite of all this, Turkey is protecting its most strategic position in this energy corridor. In a period when the war strategies are going through a serious change – in case there aren’t extraordinary situation in future political and economical wars will be experienced more than physical wars. However; this case can be the opposite way around and the struggle to survive can take Middle East into the point of a serious war. (2016 deserves attention)

Yet, it should not be forgotten that, in these lands-Middle East – anything that Iran, Turkey and Russia don’t approve at the same time is not likely to happen. This case is not an “ego”, on the contrary it is a historical fact. Because; analyzing the past in a healthy way is the most important argument of leading the future. Seemingly, the U.S.A. seems to have perceived this issue. If not, it means that there will be serious problems in the future. Besides, adding the rise of East to this issue, neither U.S.A. and U.K. nor Germany will be able to keep indifferent to this situation.

In this point we can say that; on the way to a “regional power” Turkey first needs to build its own energy competence and to strengthen it. Turkey cannot be a player in the region as long as it is dependent on foreign sources, petrol and gas cartels for energy. For this, Turkey needs to start using other energy sources rationally; renewable sources being on the first order and while doing so it needs to follow international conjuncture. Owing to the competition with European countries (particularly Germany) about technological investments on renewable energy, Turkey can both make a sprint about renewable energy and easily help create a new industrial branch in the country. The incomes of this argument will be too remarkable to underestimate.

It will make Turkey more powerful in the process of designing its future to see that industrializing the usage of renewable energy sources can have an engine power in many fields.

In fact, Turkey has a much more important position than the past. In coming years the world will see it more clearly. Especially, after the year of 2016 when Turkey will be among the most important countries in the world.

There are many different arguments. But, for the time being, we are content with just uttering these arguments as these foresights will take time to be realized. When the time comes, we will state the reasons for these foresights in our third article.

We finish our article with the question we asked at the end of our first article.

How much can you foresee the future?


Article by Engin Düzgün, 14 January 2015

Düzgün & Kırancı Law Office


About FaroLaz

Professional architect with extensive experience in all aspects of international design and construction projects management.

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