Recently, tension has escalated between the eastern Mediterranean countries, all of which seek to obtain what they see as their share in gas rights, whether those discovered or not yet discovered, especially as estimates indicate that this region contains up to 120 trillion cubic feet. Of natural gas.
The last episode of the escalation series came from Egypt, whose army deployed on December 12 a clip of the naval forces launching a "Harpoon" anti-ship missile from a submarine in the Mediterranean, which is a message of a show of force sent by Cairo to Ankara , Which recently concluded memoranda of understanding and demarcation of maritime borders with the government of reconciliation in Libya, allowing Turkey to claim rights in large areas of the eastern Mediterranean claimed by other countries, especially Greece.
And in Greece - which announced the expulsion of the Libyan ambassador - has published a journalist specialized in military affairs Ioannis Nikitas a few days ago - through his account on Twitter - a tweet attached to a photo taken from inside a Greek fighter Mirage 2000 showing the target indicator and in its center a Turkish frigate in the sea Aegean.
Nikitas commented on the photo, saying, "The Turkish frigate is in the Mirage goal of the Greek forces during a naval mission in the Aegean ... This is the language that the Turks understand, do not review the national interest, do not diminish the national sovereignty."
Η Τουρκική φρεγάτα στοχοποιημένη από τα Mirage της #HellenicAirForce σε αποστολή ναυτικής κρούσης στο # Αιγαιο Αυτή είναι η γλώσσα που καταλαβαίνει ο Τούρκος. Καμία υποχώρηση στα εθνικά συμφέροντα. Καμία έκπτωση στην εθνική κυριαρχία. Υπέρ βωμών και εστιών σε ξηρά, θάλασσα κ αέρα. pic.twitter.com/H4qynMZrlv- Ioannis Nikitas (@Ioannis_Nikitas) December 8, 2019
As for Turkey, which announced its rejection of the border demarcation agreements between Israel and Cyprus in 2010, and those signed between Egypt and Cyprus in 2013, it began exploration in the region, where Turkey sent a ship for this purpose accompanied by warships for protection, which was described by parties in the region as illegal, and considered it illegal Provocation of Turkey is unacceptable.
Israel, in turn, entered early on the conflict line, and warned Lebanon against drilling for oil in Block 9, but Lebanon confirmed that the aforementioned area is in its territorial waters, and said that the demarcation of the border that took place between Cyprus and Israel was illegal.
What is the story of the gas conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean? What are the reasons for Turkish moves? And why is a Turkish agreement with Libya angering Egypt, Greece and Cyprus? What is the status of Israel in this conflict?
The following points summarize the background of the crisis and its most prominent aspects
Gas exploration operations in the eastern Mediterranean have increased tension between countries in a region that has suddenly been discovered to be rich in gas, but is crowded with economic ambitions and conflicting political projects.
- The most prominent fields discovered in the region so far are the "back" field off the Egyptian coast, and the reserve is estimated at about thirty trillion cubic feet of gas, and the "Lothian" field located off Haifa, and its reserves are estimated at about 18 trillion cubic feet, and the "Tamar" field, which is located Off the coast of Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, it includes an estimated gas reserve of ten trillion cubic feet, and the "Aphrodite" field which is located in the Cypriot territorial waters and contains a gas reserve of eight trillion cubic feet.
- According to the data of the US Geological Survey and the companies involved in gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean, the region floats on a lake of gas with an estimated stock of 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil reserves.
- Egypt's share of this wealth is estimated at about 850 billion cubic meters, and Cyprus has 140 billion cubic meters, while Israel holds 310 billion cubic meters, and was the first to find gas stocks in the depths of the eastern Mediterranean in 2009.
Excavations in the region are managed by international oil companies, most notably the Italian company Eni in Egypt and Cyprus, the French Total in Cyprus, the American Noble Energy in the occupied territories, and your Russian expenses in Lebanon.
- Turkey announced the rejection of the maritime border demarcation agreements signed between Cyprus and Israel in 2010, as well as an agreement to demarcate the maritime border between Egypt and Cyprus in 2013, due to what it considered to prejudice Turkish economic interests, but Cairo confirmed that it would take all means to maintain its sovereignty.
- Ankara has started exploring for gas off the Turkish coast of Cyprus in search of a wealth it sees as the right of the Turkish Cypriots, as well as to defend Turkey's exclusive interests, a move that has sparked criticism from Greece, Egypt, Israel and the European Union.
Turkey says its moves to explore and search for oil and gas are carried out within international law, and that exploration is taking place within its “continental shelf,” and increased tensions have revived the debate in Turkey about establishing a permanent naval base in the Turkish part of Cyprus.
- At the beginning of this year, Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Jordan, Italy and Palestine established a forum called "East Mediterranean Gas", excluding Turkey from its presence, which prompted Ankara to take measures and actions, the last of which was the signing of notes to demarcate the maritime borders with Libya last month, which It sparked angry Egyptian, Greek and Cypriot reactions.
- The forum aims to establish a regional gas market, reduce infrastructure costs, and offer competitive prices in the context of efforts to transform the region into a major energy hub.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan affirmed his country's determination to continue implementing the agreements with all its provisions, and said that the excavations carried out by his country will give rise to peace and prosperity, not conflict and bloodshed, stressing that Turkey will not withdraw its ships from there.
- Turkish moves in the region and the announced reactions from Egypt, Greece and Cyprus are threatening to erupt a conflict over the natural gas wealth in a region already teeming with conflicts and tensions.