Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 17, 2019

The Turkish Intervention In Libya Might Lead To A War With Egypt

The Turkish President Erdogan continues to create enemies for Turkey.

After waging a war on Syria, he has managed to piss off the EU by pushing refugees towards it. He has displeased NATO and the U.S. by installing Russian air defenses. Most Arab countries at the Persian Gulf hate him for his support for Qatar.

Erdogan has allied himself with the Government of National Accord (GNA) that rules in Tripoli, Libya. He will now have to take on several additional countries which support the GNA's opponent.

After the NATO war destroyed Africa's richest country Libya is still split.


Most of the east and the south and most of the oil of the country is ruled by General Khalifa Haftar, a former CIA asset. Haftar has support from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia. A U.S. delegation recently visited him. Nine month ago he started a campaign to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood controlled GNA around Tripoli and Misrata.

The campaign got stuck even as each side continued to put more and better material onto the ground and into the air. Pilots flying for Haftar are allegedly from the UAE and Egypt. The GNA flies Turkish drones which are likely controlled by Turkish pilots. There are also rumors that Russian mercenaries are involved in support of Haftar.

Both sides lack well trained ground troops in sufficient numbers. At the end of November Erdogan offered a rather curious agreement to the GNA. In exchange for troops from Turkey the GNA would have to agree to a common maritime border between Libya and Turkey.

Fayez al-Sarraj, the Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and prime minister of the GNA, agreed. That resulted in this curious map.


Erdogan then claimed that Turkey has the sole right to economically explore the Mediterranean Sea north of the red and yellow line. He also said that pipelines laid through that area would need Turkish agreement. Egypt, Israel and Cyprus had planned a gas pipeline between their sub sea gas explorations and Greece. (That pipeline is likely a pipe dream as there is too little gas for sale to justify the large investment.)

There have already been intense spats between Cyprus, Israel and Turkey over Turkish drill ships which, accompanied by the Turkish Navy, intruded into Cyprus' exclusive economic zone.

Nautical borders in areas of multiple states can not be drawn unilaterally or by just two parties. The area Erdogan claims is to a large part also claimed by Cyprus and Greece which both have better arguments for legal rights in the area than Turkey.

Source: Petroleum Economist - bigger

There is another legal problem. The Sikhirat agreement, which was signed in December 2015 under UN auspices and is the legal basis for the GNA, does not give GNA head Sarraj any right to make such an agreement and concession.

The conflict over exclusive economic rights in certain areas can probably be solved at the UN or through international courts. The military part of Erdogan's deal is the real danger:

The deal offers Turkish support for the establishment of a Quick Reaction Force for police and military in Libya, as well as enhanced cooperation in intelligence and in the defense industry. Following the military cooperation deal, Erdoğan said Ankara might consider sending troops to Libya if the Libyan government requested military assistance.

A week ago Erdogan said that he was ready to deploy troops to Libya on short notice. Today rumors appeared in Arab media, still unconfirmed, that Turkish special operations forces landed in Tripoli.

The Libyan war between two Libyan parties will now become a very different beast. Egypt will not tolerate a Muslim Brotherhood led Libya as its neighbor. Egypt will intervene before the Turkish support allows the GNA government to defeat Haftar. The situation could then develop into an intense war during which Turkish troops fight on Libyan grounds against the Egyptian military.

Both countries have rich Arab sponsors who can finance a long and intense conflict. Both have lots of matériel and many many soldiers they can throw into the fight. The Egyptian side has one advantage. Its long land border allows for easy resupply while Turkey will have to rely on supplies that come by sea and air and can be cut off or at least interrupted.

Such a war could easily become the major international crisis of 2020.

Posted by b on December 17, 2019 at 18:53 UTC | Permalink

next page »

thanks b... it bears watching... what role does the exceptional nation play in all this?? the new ottoman emperor continues on..

Posted by: james | Dec 17 2019 19:08 utc | 1

The Egyptian side has one advantage. Its long land border allows for easy resupply while Turkey will have to rely on supplies that come by sea and air and can be cut off or at least interrupted.

How well paved and well-fed of railroads is the Libyan-Egyptian border? If it's only desert, then supply through the sea becomes the more efficient one.

Posted by: vk | Dec 17 2019 19:24 utc | 2

It was Hifter for more than two decades. Then he got the attention of the PR section at the CIA. They noted that
Hifter was way too close to Hitler so they rebranded their CIA creation to Hafter, and then slowly and carefully to Haftar.

Try not to participate with the CIA.

Hifter is a creature of the CIA.

Posted by: librul | Dec 17 2019 19:25 utc | 3

@3 Solid assessment, I don't think one can be a 'former' CIA asset and still be alive.

Turkish warmongering seems to be mostly a stage play for internal consumption (see: at least half of Uncle Donny's routine.) When it's real, it's generally some permutation of "Whose proxy is bombing whom in Mogadishu," or the Syria farce due to proximity.

Posted by: TIME POLICE | Dec 17 2019 19:32 utc | 4

The 1914-style tripwires are everywhere, almost all laid by the US imperial state which sees maximum chaos and war as its only chance to prop up and even continue to expand itself. Although China, Russia and Iran have so far acted cautiously, almost everyone else seems determined to act as recklessly as the US is urging. It's only a matter of time till the Sarajevo moment triggers the avalanche.

Posted by: Russ | Dec 17 2019 19:34 utc | 5

Egypt and Greece will wait till Turkey/Erdogan have committed a good number of men and material to propping up GNA before disrupting their supply lines. Unlike Russia/Putin who were careful in their relationship with regional powers, they have built no alliances that can sustain their expedition besides Qatari money.

Posted by: s | Dec 17 2019 19:54 utc | 6

A good companion piece to b's...

The Sultan's New Power Grab is the Mediterranean to the Libyan Shore, What Role for the Russian S-400?

Posted by: John Gilberts | Dec 17 2019 19:58 utc | 7

Thanks very much for this article, b! In previous comments, I've been noting the escalation and tried to raise its importance. And the bedfellows are strange indeed! Toss in the animosity between Erdogan and the US Congress and the longstanding enmity between Greece and Turkey, and the soup thickens rapidly into a stew. Despite being published by the Atlantic Council, this article helps to further explain the players and motivations.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 17 2019 19:59 utc | 8

I'm gonna need a bigger white board to sort out and keep track of all the various shifting alliances among the players. It reminds me of mafia gangs all fighting over who gets to be the biggest parasite in various criminal enterprises.

Erdo's new map looks insane. Did the CIA poison him and this is the result? An insane person determined to expand his empire across water since his plan to expand south into Syria has failed?

If I am understanding correctly, Russia and Uncle Sam both support Hafter and Turkey is on the other side. Maybe that is why Erdo is making loud noises about kicking Uncle Sam out of both Turkish air fields.

The only sure prediction seems to be that the war machine will continue to profit and more mothers will bury their sons and daughters.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Dec 17 2019 20:07 utc | 9

I read a short summary of this situation at Xinhuanet last night and am pleased to read b doing it justice.

Cui bono?

Follow the money has always been my approach and in this case it may be combination of present and future money. Frankly it seems to be complicated on purpose. If one is going to start a world war these days, it seems that the underpinnings must be obscure and obtuse which this seems to have lots of. the trappings of.

I will go read the suggested links by karlof1 and John Gilberts above and try to catch up

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 17 2019 20:10 utc | 10

I have now read both suggested link and the quote below I found most interesting from the karlof1 link

Mezran suggested. “If the Turks become the major supporter of the GNA, not the Europeans or the Americans, and the Russians are the ones who are the major supporter of Haftar, then all it would take is an agreement between Moscow and Ankara to solve the Libyan problem, causing much damage to American and European power.”

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 17 2019 20:25 utc | 11

to me the point is not that Max had the previous views but that he covered up his previous positions. And at that time he smeared honest journalists. The other telling point is who his father is - that Sid Blumenthal that we find in Hillary's emails as her man in the sinister Libyan operation At the greyzone I find Aaron Mate to not be a cynical salesperson masquerading as a journalist I was pleasantly surprised to find the Real News letting him go further into anti establishmnent positions than previously heard on that show. It would be interesting to know the details of why he moved to the Greyzone

Posted by: gepay | Dec 17 2019 20:28 utc | 12

This doesn't seem very complicated to me.
Turkey is emboldened by Turkstream (and by the Ukraine/Georgia stalemate) - Erdogan clearly believes he can monopolize gas transit between Central Asia/Middle East/Eastern Mediterranean and Europe. This would be a huge geopolitical and economic benefit for Turkey - far above and beyond any religion based "leadership" Turkey could benefit from the Muslim world.
Russia doesn't really care as it already has a pole position regarding natural gas to Europe - Erdogan's actions will only serve to slow down any buildout of competing supply from Central Asia/Middle East. Erdogan is likely being financially backed by Qatar as well - they also stand to benefit if Turkey can carve out a pipeline domination in the Eastern Med.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 17 2019 20:35 utc | 13

gepay @12--

Mate moved because he was offered a platform there as he notes at his Twitter:

"Very excited to launch my new show "Pushback with Aaron Maté" (@pushbackshow), airing on The Grayzone (@grayzoneproject)."

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 17 2019 20:41 utc | 14

"Follow the money..." If I recall correctly, Haftar got a nice pile of money from Russia in the form of Libyan banknotes that he ordered, and the status of those banknotes was unclear, but in LNA zone they are as good as the central bank notes. Legally, payments for Libyan oil have to go to that bank, and the operations, location and loyalty of that bank deserve an investigative article.

Erdogan has too little money to succeed, IMHO. If he were flushed, he would place nice weapon orders in UK, France, Germany and USA, as KSA + UAE did, and as we know from Yemen, that secures NATO blessings, either verbal or quiet. His military is probably in a better shape than Egyptian, if vulnerable to attacks by mysterious submarines. The coastal highway from Egypt is surely good enough for military vehicles, but it is vulnerable to attacks from air.

Putin's priority number 2 in the region is South Stream, so he will probably not supply mysterious submarines, Greece could being irate over maritime claims, and Egypt would have the most obvious motif. My conclusion is that the sultan's dog's barks a lot, and sometimes bites, but with some caution. Libyan expedition has the smell of Sicilian Expedition, a notable event during the Peloponessian war.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 17 2019 20:51 utc | 15

Egypt will not tolerate a Muslim Brotherhood led Libya as its neighbor. Before the Turkish support allows the GNA government to defeat Haftar Egypt will intervene. The situation can thereby soon develop into an intense war during which Turkish troops fight on Libyan grounds against the Egyptian military.

<=I think if Egypt intervenes in Libya it will strengthen the brotherhood in Egypt and Libya and may terminate brother Sisi's rule.

i agree with Psychohistorian's Mezran quote.. a Russian Turkey agreement will foreclose USA and British access to oil from Libya, Egypt and Turkey( new OPEC will form).

Posted by: snake | Dec 17 2019 21:08 utc | 16

"Which side is Israel on? " That's a pretty sure way of deciding which side you aren't going to choose.
So far as Egypt is concerned the dictatorship there is a fully owned subsidiary of the MOSSAD-CIA axis.
That is a second reason for being sympathetic towards Erdogan's manouevres.
Then there is Greece, eagerly doing all it can to suck up to the US and Israel

Posted by: bevin | Dec 17 2019 21:37 utc | 17

@ 5 russ.. yes - trip wires everywhere, which was the case in syria.. i am not sure how russia can work it's magic here.. @ 7 john g's link to helmer focuses on the obvious... i am not sure how this works out..

@ 8 karlof1... yes, despite the article coming from the atlantic council, it helps to understand how there will be a rationalization on the part of the exceptional nation to get involved to stop any agreement between russia and turkey, for resolving this!! @11 psychohistorians quote from this same article sums it up!!

@ 9 trailer trash - good quote! -> "An insane person determined to expand his empire across water since his plan to expand south into Syria has failed?" that is what it looks like!

Posted by: james | Dec 17 2019 21:53 utc | 18

Now the GNA is a UN construct so Turkey supporting it should not be a big deal politically for the west. As for the CIA fellow, if he is working as closely as he appears to be with Russia, I think Turkey stepping in is just as suggested:
"...from the karlof1 link:
""Mezran suggested. “If the Turks become the major supporter of the GNA, not the Europeans or the Americans, and the Russians are the ones who are the major supporter of Haftar, then all it would take is an agreement between Moscow and Ankara to solve the Libyan problem, causing much damage to American and European power.”"Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 17 2019 20:25 utc | 11.
I particularly like the strategy cutting out the Central Bank by the General and Russia, looks to me like there is a master plan being rolled out and it is moving quickly. Perhaps Peace is breaking out:)

Posted by: frances | Dec 17 2019 22:42 utc | 19

b said; "After the NATO war destroyed Africa's richest country Libya is still split."

Another "mission accomplished" by the evil empire. They couldn't stand for any leader to share the wealth of the nation with it's people, so a lesson was given, and is still in effect.

Posted by: ben | Dec 17 2019 22:58 utc | 20

@ Posted by: ben | Dec 17 2019 22:58 utc | 20 who wrote
b said; "After the NATO war destroyed Africa's richest country Libya is still split."

Another "mission accomplished" by the evil empire. They couldn't stand for any leader to share the wealth of the nation with it's people, so a lesson was given, and is still in effect.

Thanks for that perspective. That is THE reason that I continue to call out Hillary "We came, we saw, he died" Clinton as the war criminal I hope she is prosecuted for in her lifetime.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 17 2019 23:36 utc | 21

A USAF C-17 heavy airlift aircraft, registration 10-0221, call sign RCH111, has made several flights from Ramstein, Germany to Benghazi in the last few days. The cargo is as yet unknown. More fighters recycled from Syria? Manpads? Extremely nice chocolate cake?

Posted by: Yonatan | Dec 17 2019 23:52 utc | 22

If you want a way better analysis from a professional strategist read the following:
"Turkey's Libyan Gamble Is A Shrewd Geostrategic Move"

Posted by: Matthiew | Dec 18 2019 0:11 utc | 23

Does anyone have an idea of both the size and combat readiness of Egyptian forces?

Would Sisi be in a position to send in a force of, say, 50,000 or 100,000 troops with armour and air cover? If so, he could end both the Muslim Brotherhood/Al-Quaeda problem in Libya as well as nip one of Erdogan's meddlesome adventures in the bud.

Posted by: Antoinetta III | Dec 18 2019 0:24 utc | 24

@ Posted by: Matthiew | Dec 18 2019 0:11 utc | 23 who wrote
If you want a way better analysis from a professional strategist read the following:
A commenter on the Max thread used the term "arrogant condescension" which I feel fits your opening line precisely and will inhibit me from wanting to read the link......paid for opinion pieces are often propaganda these days and hello Matthiew, welcome to the bar......don't let the door hit you on the way out

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 18 2019 0:27 utc | 25

I want what Libyans want, but it seems nobody can be arsed to find that out. I strongly suspect Libyans' preference would be for neither of these two foreign funded options since both of these grubby groups are committed to maintaining the repeal of the petroleum act which has protected Libyans from rapacious foreign corporations and foreign-state owned enterprises who put sweet FA into any of their hosts' economies while meddling unceasingly in host politics to ensure everyone but them gets screwed.

IMO the amerikan interest is less about oil & other Libyan resources than ensuring that Libya can never again support North African nations who the empire is determined to annex and form into a vast super-national state where governments have no control, but corporations do.

AFAIK, both cliques in Libya are proponents of Arab nationalism which intend to pretend the black african and berber populations are all foreigners despite both groups having a longer history of living in the region than arabs do.

Arabs entered this region, the Magreb, about 647 AD fighting to take control off the indigenous population of the Magreb which up until then comprised myriad african ethnicities & language groups until around 709 when Arabs united under the banner of Islam had complete control.

There really hasn't been a demographic based census in Libya, most likely because the role of black africans or as the imperialists like to refer to them 'sub-saharan' (which of course implies they are outsiders) has always been contentious among some Libyans who consider themselves to be 'Arabs' or as they like to claim, the ruling class.
Generally the bulk of lighter skinned Libyans class themselves as Berber-Arabs, while other Libyans (eg Muamar Ghaddaffi -may he rest in peace) consider themselves to be Berber.

The iFUKUS intervention promoted a mob claiming to be solely Arab and therefore the legitimate rulers of the nation. They also reckoned all black africans in Libya were foreigners. A genocidal campaign of terror and good old amerikan style lynching of black folks followed. We rightly see the sociopath in H Clinton at this time, but what about Oblamblam, WTF was he thinking?

Eventually some bright spark saw that killing was wasteful, so those black Libyans remaining were rounded up and sold into slavery - to 'owners' primarily in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Who knows if Libya can ever find another leader as enlightened as the Colonel? All we do know is that there is no chance of such a leader emanating from either Haftar's gang or the 'UN-recognised' gang.

Libyans don't deserve either of these agglomerations of arseholes which is why they are copping them. A big message from the big states that any nation which indulges in such caring and sharing of neighbours & friends as Libya did, must be severely punished so no other decent society will dare try that on.

Posted by: A User | Dec 18 2019 0:40 utc | 26

@16 Snake

"<=I think if Egypt intervenes in Libya it will strengthen the brotherhood in Egypt and Libya and may terminate brother Sisi's rule."

I think Snake is on to something here. The power balance in Egypt is fairly evenly divided with only a slight advantage to Sisi over Muslim Brotherhood forces.

Who would benefit from an Egyptian Civil War?

Posted by: Haassaan | Dec 18 2019 0:43 utc | 27

@ Matthiew...

'Thanks' for the Andrew Korybko link...Pfft...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Dec 18 2019 1:01 utc | 28

Part 1

What Turkey is seeking is fair treatment and recognition of rights it feels that it has in the Mediterranean Sea. What a group of nations (Israel, Egypt, Greece and the US – hereafter referred to as The Group) is attempting to do is deny Turkey any rights at all.

Those that disagree with Turkish claims have the following position:

1. Greek "owned" islands, which in some cases (e.g. Kastellorizo) go really close to the Turkish coast, exclude Turkey from any significant rights to the Mediterranean.

2. Turkey has no claim to the area around Cyprus.

3. Cyprus is partnered with Israel, Egypt, Greece and the US for energy exploration in the Mediterranean Sea and Turkey is not included.

4. In January 2019, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum was convened as a means for Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Italy and the Palestinian Authority to develop a regional natural gas market. Turkey was excluded from this forum and was very upset. (A month later ExxonMobil announced a new gas discovery in Cypriot waters.)

In other words it is a melange of denying rights, legal assertions and exclusion tactics.

Now look at a map of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and then tell me - Is it reasonable that Turkey should have practically no rights at all? Any fair-minded person would recognise that Turkey does and all reasonable people would recognise that all the countries bordering the area of exploration have rights and should cooperate and work together and none should be excluded. What is happening is that The Group wants it all.

It is a very big mistake to believe that Turkey is in the wrong and also that it will back down on this.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 1:08 utc | 29

Part 2

The Excluded Countries

In addition to Turkey, the countries that are excluded appear to be Syria, Lebanon, and Libya. It is right that The Group is seeking to exclude all these other countries?

It doesn't matter whether the oil and gas are viable (it may or may not be) what is happening is that Turkey is not being allowed any recognition and they are choosing to assert (take) their rights (because there is no other option available to them). If Turkey did not do so then they would lose any future rights to the Mediterranean at all.

Syrian, Lebanon and Libya are obviously too weak to assert their rights. Although the Palestinian Authority participated in Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum I don't really expect Palestine to benefit much and it should be noted the Palestinian Authority is are far too weak to do anything – I’m afraid they are just being used.

Greece and Cyprus are being used as pawns by the US (why else would US Ambassador Pyatt be based in Greece? This kind of disruption is his speciality) and Greece is being set to confront Turkey.

Now look at a map of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and then tell me - Is it reasonable that Turkey should have practically no rights at all? Any fair-minded person would recognise that Turkey does and all reasonable people would recognise that all the countries bordering the area of exploration have rights and should cooperate and work together and none should be excluded. What is happening is that The Group wants it all.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 1:12 utc | 30

Part 3

Libyan GNA

The reason why Turkey does not want the Libyan GNA to fall is because they fear that Haftar will fall into line with The Group and further strengthen Turkey’s exclusion from the Mediterranean energy exploration. So it is in Turkey’s great national interest to secure Libya as an ally. Also, the GNA are still recognised as the legitimate government of Libya by the UN so in legal terms Turkey is not doing anything wrong in recognising and supporting the Libyan GNA.

As regards the Turkey/Libyan Maritime Zone - What is happening is that Turkey and Libya are showing The Group that it to can carve out areas and claim to areas of the Mediterranean Seas just as much as they can.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 1:15 utc | 31

Part 4


It was widely believed that the 2015-17 Cyprus reunification talks where positive and the closet ever to reaching a settlement. Who should be blamed for the collapse? Many believe that is was the Greek Cypriot side that was a fault. The big sticking point was that the Turkish Cypriot side wanted some 40,000 Turkish troops to remain based in the North of the Island because of fears over security. At the time the Greek Cypriot side said it was impossible to accept the continued presence of Turkish troops. This was a big mistake, Cyprus would have been federally united and in 10 years time the Turkish troops could well have been greatly reduced. When the talks collapsed the talk was of inevitable partition.

And what do we see in 2019? Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot President, wants to reopen talks "exactly where they left off" - A belated recognition that it was the Greek Cypriots that threw away what would have been a fantastic settlement and a fairly blatant attempt to peel away Turkish Cypriots from Turkey (Anastasiades call for a resumption of talks seems to have come with some unnecessary hostile remarks directed at Turkey), and hasty desire (now that there has been a gas discovery off the coast of Cyprus) to rescue the agreement because The Group now they can use this agreement to further marginalise Turkey.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 1:17 utc | 32

I like Frances's take on smells like a master plan between Russia and Turkey...

Why not...?...the Sultan and VVP deciding to carve up some territory, as in the old colonial days...?

Russia and Turkey are getting closer all the time...Helmer's take about the 'Stavka' not being fully on board with this notwithstanding...

The very useful clue is from that Atlantic Council article...the rule to apply here is to just be for everything they are against...and be against whatever they are for...

In this case they are agitating for the West to step up to the plate and arm the GNA...even a fly zone for farg's sakes...

Yeah...everything but let Turkey and Russia divide the spoils among themselves right...?...throw a wrench into the spokes at any cost...?

But the thing is that Trump is not interested in any new wars or proxy wars...and I think a Libya 2.0 is going to be an extremely hard sell anywhere, with the disaster of Killary's 2011 adventure still fresh in everyone's minds...

So nobody is stepping in...there is a vacuum there and I think that there may be some grand bargain cooking behind the scenes with VVP and the Sultan...who knows how far this thing could go...?

It's already causing HUGE headaches in Sodom on the is clear from the shrieks of agony from the likes of the Atlantic Council and many others...

Posted by: flankerbandit | Dec 18 2019 1:51 utc | 33

Even though oil is on stage, it seems we are not dealing with Norway.

Posted by: Duncan Idaho | Dec 18 2019 1:55 utc | 34

Part 5

Military Conflict

Turkey may not be the best militarily; they are slow and ponderous but they are strong enough to move forward, occupy and hold space and take a significant amount of attrition while doing so. Turkey is strong enough to be able to assert “facts on the ground” even if they have to absorb several hard blows - they have been learning a lot from Russia on this.

With regards to Libya, Turkey cannot be prevented from moving forward, occupying space, supplying the Libyan GNA, providing military equipment and troops, etc. UNLESS their lines of supply are cut and this means that The Group would have to attack first and sink a Turkish ship.

And this would mean that Greece (the obvious party that might be set-up for this role) would attack Turkey and sink a Turkish ship? This would be an act of war against Turkey and Turkey would, as a result of such action, be fully (and legally) entitled to respond. So, commonsense tells you that Greece and The Group can't really do this.

If The Group enables Haftar to sink a Turkish ship then Turkey will be able to claim an attack against them, and retaliate and occupy Libya and expect NATO support whilst doing so. The effect of such an act by Haftar's forces would inevitably result in victory for Erdogan (counter-intuitive though that may seem).

While Turkey and Erdogan’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood can be seen as a vector that ensures Egypt’s hostility towards Turkey’s presence in Libya can this really express itself militarily?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a strong movement in Egypt which has been around for a very long time. Effectively this excludes Egypt from joining any direct attack on Turkey because they will fear the unintended consequences that will arise within Egypt.

I’m afraid The Group, in seeking to exclude a major country like Turkey (with an obvious major interest in the Mediterranean), is taking the first step towards war. Sinking a Turkish ship would be another step towards war. Turkey will win any conflict as long as they are prepared to accept some hard blows (and they will be). The Group will lose any conflict because they are only able to strike small (sink a ship at most) or strike huge (annihilation); they have no middle game – Turkey will be able to absorb small blows and China & Russia will not allow Turkey to be destroyed.

At present, Turkey has nothing to lose (as far as the Mediterranean Sea energy exploration goes) - it follows that in any military conflict that Turkey will gain. Military conflicts have to be settled by negotiation - it is only a western delusion that wars are fought to unconditional surrender or absolute destruction. It is The Group and, in particular, Greece that will lose (Greece has a lot to lose in any conflict - no matter how well it goes for Greece - they will have to give up something, even if they think they have won, because that will be price of ending any conflict (because it always is unless you can annihilate your adversary).

It is not Turkey that is over-reaching- it is The Group (Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and the US) that have overplayed their hand and have most to lose.

The only thing that makes any sense in terms of a strategic plan is that it nothing more than machinations by the US seeking to bring chaos closer to the heart of Europe. From the outset, The Group knew what they were doing to Turkey and they knew how Turkey would feel about it and how Turkey was likely to react.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 2:17 utc | 35

On paper, Erdogan may have easy superiority in Libya, but he may get into troubles for two reasons:
1) Libyans, currently quite fractured, actually both major coalitions are riven by internal lack of cohesion. To compare, Assad government had no business surviving, but the opposition was split into moderates, i.e. small time gangsters and bandits having difficulties making units of more than 100 people, and jihadists who had some abstruse reasons to hate each other. And Turkey did not make such a good job in Idlib, Afrin and north Aleppo.
2) Egypt. Forget about ground troops, they would probably focus on air supremacy. This is an Achilles heel of an expeditionary force. If they are intelligent (a risk that has to be consider), they may hit the moment Turkey attempts to expand its foothold. Just letting it slide would be a considerable loss of face for al-Sisi

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 18 2019 2:19 utc | 36

Part 6

Kastellorizo – A Greek Island off the Turkish Coast

Greece "owns" Kastelorizo, an island which is only about 2 kilometres off the coast of Turkey. "Ownership" of islands such as Kastellorizo is meant to "give" Greece the "right" to exclude Turkey from the Mediterranean Sea? I'm afraid that this is an absolutist, simplistic and unrealistic position.

The "ownership" of Kastellorizo has changed many times throughout history and has been "owned" by Turkey (the Ottomans) on a number of occasions. If you look at the maps you can see that Kastellorizo is part of the same geological formation as the nearby Turkish coast. It's akin to claiming "ownership" of my doorstop and then claiming that you "own" everything outside the walls of my house (including my garden, car, garage, dog, cat, etc. and then telling me I can't even use my doorstep or leave my house. If you did that to me, I would push you aside and that is what Turkey is doing to Greece.

I know that many, many Greeks fundamentally disagree but they are just being partisan, unfair and realistic and are allowing themselves to getting carried away with hostility towards Turkey.

Kastellorizo could have been assigned to Turkey at the end of the WWII as part of the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 but instead, the "ownership" of Kastellorizo was removed from Italy and given to Greece.

In any military conflict between Turkey and Greece (like, for instance) sinking a Turkish Ship, then islands Kastellorizo will be immediately taken into "ownership" by Turkey and it will be a long time, if ever, that Greece can think about re-"owning" Kastellorizo. Essentially, the issue of Kastellorizo and its "ownership" would be settled and there would be very little Greece could do about it.

When Greece asserts is rights to the Mediterranean Sea based on “ownership” of islands such as Kastellorizo and uses such “ownership” to deny Turkey rights to the Mediterranean Sea it is just being provocative and unreasonable and inducing Turkey.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 2:48 utc | 37

Turkey is wrong if it thinks something in international law allows it to annul the freedom of the seas and block pipelines. I will repost what I wrote on October 31:


The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) from 1958 guarantees to all countries the right to lay cables and pipes in international waters. This is part of the freedom of the seas. Laying cables and pipes is not "economic" activity as defined in the 1982 treaty that gave countries the right to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Pipe laying is affected only by the little-known Espoo Convention from 1991 that obliges the parties to carry out an environmental impact assessment of certain activities at an early stage of planning. Nowhere in the treaty does it say that it can be used to stop the freedom of navigation or other freedoms of the seas.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Dec 18 2019 3:07 utc | 38

Piotir Brennan @36

Turkey does not need and doesn't intend to conquer Libya.

All Turkey has to do is maintain the Libyan GNA which is the government legally recognised by the UN.

Only the Security Council can remove recognition of the Libyan GNA and this would be a fairly cynical move by the West if attempted (and, I imagine, would be vetoed by more than just Russia and China).

Military aircraft are vulnerable when ground troops have access to modern surface to air missiles and are trained in their use. Expect Libyan GNA forces to have copious supplies of the ground and shoulder-launched versions of these weapons. What good did aircraft do for Saudi Arabia in Yemen? There is no winner here, only stalemate and that's more than good enough for Turkey.

The only way to prevent Turkey from achieving its aims is to sink it's supply ships. This would be a rash and extremely inadvisable act.

I would advise policymakers and Governments (particularly, The Group) to see where this is all heading and not go down this path.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 3:11 utc | 39

The coming debacle may present few heroes for our consideration. The weakest states are probably headed for the smash-and-grab treatment at the end of the day. How is one to believe that Erdogan gives a damn about the government in Libya?--any government? Hafter and the GNA are both pretenders who have only marginal support in that country. These are but stick figures in a land that's been thrown into a howling anarchy, thanks to the military operation that Obama green-lighted. Since Erdogan is dealing with virtual nonentities, this aggression is his aggression. And this illegal sea lane is his insult to international law and prior agreements that recognize the rights of regional nations. It looks a lot like an act of war or at least a pretty serious provocation.

Greece, for one, ought to be worried about this development, as some of the resources it counts on as its territorial right is threatened here.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 18 2019 3:12 utc | 40

Petri Krohn @38

I don't believe that any of the Mediterranean Sea is "international waters" it's all been carved up into Exclusive Economic Zone's (EEZ)- there's nothing left! The Group are carving everything up for themselves and left Turkey (and a number of other countries e.g. Syria) with very little.

Any person thinking rationally would be able to see that Turkey has been treated unfairly and will see Turkey has been left with no effective (peaceful) way to get any redress.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 3:31 utc | 41

Copeland @40

This is just partisan rubbish.

All Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean nations need to do is get together, cooperate and share.

The actions of The Group (Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and the US) are the ones that are causing all the difficulties because they have tried to grab everything for themselves and exclude everyone else.

Greece and the rest of The Group need to include Turkey, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Palestine (and remove the US).

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 3:39 utc | 42

ADKC @37

The last sentence of Part 6 should have read:

When Greece asserts is rights to the Mediterranean Sea based on “ownership” of islands such as Kastellorizo and uses such “ownership” to deny Turkey rights to the Mediterranean Sea it is just being provocative and unreasonable and inducing Turkey to consider military options.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 3:44 utc | 43

Turkey controls the Dardanelles (the entrance to the Black Sea) by treaty. Turkey has been treated as it deserves. The Aegean Sea is recognized as Greek waters; and that probably includes the seabed beneath it. When Greece was at its most vulnerable after the recent financial collapse, Turkish air force ramped up overflights of Greek territory, some of it pretty aggressive, just to rub salt in the wound. It wasn't very neighborly. It looks like Erdogan's new sea lane trespasses the Greek island of Rhodes and several others.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 18 2019 3:57 utc | 44


Greece is not asserting rights to the Mediterranean, just the Aegean, which is considered as its domain. I believe there was an international treaty after World War I that recognized its rights in that regard. This is not partisan mishmash, it is just a recognition of who stands to be injured, as a result of Erdogan's provocation. There is a question of law here; its not really about who is on whose side. Erdogan's action is egregious.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 18 2019 4:11 utc | 45

Copeland @44

Again, partisan rubbish.

It was the EU (the West) that financially destroyed and exploited Greece and you're focussing on Turkish air force overflights than didn't mean come to anything.

You're are following into the trap of acting as a proxy for the US and getting into a conflict with Turkey. You imagine that if it goes wrong for Greece that the US and Israel will back you up and step into the dispute but you are utterly mistaken in that belief.

It was the EU and Greece's own government that demeaned, humiliated and exploited Greece - NOT Turkey!

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 4:12 utc | 46

Copeland @45

As you well know, it is The Group (Israel, Eygpt, Greece, Cyprus and the US) that are carving up the Mediterranean. Greece's part is to claim the vast majority of sea between Turkey and Greece based on islands that they "own".

All I am suggesting is that all the Mediterranean nations get together, cooperate and share.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 4:17 utc | 47

ADKC @46

I'm sorry but your argument is a diversion. The fact is, that now that the Syrian situation has stabilized someone else is moving immediately to create a new center of instability and risk. Do you consider it of no importance if Erdogan is about to commit a crime against peace? Who is he serving?--which faction? I guess he's following the tenor of these dark times by breaking international law with an implied threat of military force as his first gambit. Of host is right to worry that Egypt could be drawn into war.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 18 2019 4:30 utc | 48

Matthiew @23 posts a link to a very good analysis in Global Research by Andrew Korybko called Turkey’s Libyan Gamble Is a Shrewd Geostrategic Move

What Andrew Korkblko suggests is that the pipeline, that Turkey is obstructing with the "Turkey/Libyan Maritime Zone", is not really about Cypriot gas (which b. believes will be too small and uneconomic to justify a pipeline) but about Israeli gas which is intended to be piped under the Mediterranean Sea into Europe as a competitor to Russian gas. Maybe the whole thing about Cypriot gas is just a smokescreen to disguise the true origins (Israel) of the gas.

What, I suppose, Israel is trying to achieve is to minimise the number of nations that have a say about (and, I guess, a cut of) the pipeline. So, the attempt to cut Turkey and other weaker countries out of share (gas transit fees) has forced Turkey to move on its long-held grievance about being treated unfairly in the Mediterranean Sea.

Are we about to see a war in the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey caused by US and Israeli machinations?

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 4:46 utc | 49

Copeland @48

You're hopelessly partisan and don't want to hear anything that doesn't fit into your desire for Erdogan/Turkey to be painted as evil/wrong/aggressors when you must realise that The Group (Greece, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and the US) were going down a path that would inevitably lead to something like the current situation.

It's fairly obvious to me what will now happen. Either The Group will share some of the booty with Turkey or Greece will be led by The Group into a direct military conflict with Turkey.

Such a conflict will not go as well for Greece as you believe. Greece will find itself largely on its own against Turkey. Israel and the US will not join any such an attack on Turkey and will not back Greece up. I realise that you strongly believe otherwise and I hope we never get to find out.

I believe that the outcome of any conflict between Greece and Turkey will be likely be brokered by the US and the price of peace will be that Greece will have to surrender some of it's claims in the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey - In other words, Greece will be made to pay off Turkey so the pipeline can continue. However, you are too blinded with hatred against Turkey to see this.

If Greece are determined to frustrate Turkey's ambitions then the Libyan GNA must fall. To ensure that there is a chance for the Libyan GNA to fall, Turkish supply lines must be cut. To cut Turkish supply lines, Turkish ships must be sunk. Egypt will not do this, neither will Israel or the US, Haftar is not able. Therefore, Greece will have to sink the Turkish ships. Such an action would be an outrageous act of aggression (though, I realise you believe that Greeve would be perfectly entitled to do this).

Now, the thing you really have to understand is this:- the moment that Greece sinks a Turkish Ship is the moment that Greece loses.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 5:12 utc | 50


Enough with your diatribe. This point in particular: "The "ownership" of Kastellorizo has changed many times throughout history and has been "owned" by Turkey (the Ottomans) on a number of occasions."

What exactly are you saying? Most of today's Turkey was "owned" by Greeks for three millennia. Using your argument, then Erdogan and you should pack your a$$es and move to Mongolia.

Posted by: BGTX | Dec 18 2019 5:15 utc | 51

ADKC @ 29

"What Turkey is seeking is fair treatment and recognition of rights it feels that it has in the Mediterranean Sea."

This is exactly the root of the problem. Turkey claims "rights" but doesn't say where these "rights" are coming from. Greece has repeatedly told Turkey that, if Turkey has any legitimate claims based on international law and/or treaties, to petition the International Court of Justice in The Hague to rule on its claims. Turkey refuses to do that because it knows it has no "rights" and instead is poking into Greek space trying to create illusions that it has "rights". Everything you say is standard official Turkish propaganda (and I am wondering if you are an official Turkish troll).

Posted by: BGTX | Dec 18 2019 5:46 utc | 52

BGTX @51

Anyone reading my post @37 will know that it wasn't a diatribe.

It is obvious what I am "saying". "Owning" islands are being used to unreasonably restrict and exclude Turkey and should not be used by Greece to claim vast tracks of the Mediterranean Sea when it is obviously unreasonable and unfair to do so, particularly as the legitimacy of "ownership" of many areas can never really be settled irrefutably and indefinitely. I am asking for all the Mediterranean nations to cooperate and share; not grab and exclude.

I am also saying that reasonable and fair sharing of the Mediterranean Sea also ensures that Greece continues to "own" the islands whereas leveraging those islands to claim large swathes of the Mediterranean Sea actually risks Greece losing "ownership".

Your obtuse interpretation of my comments and your repackaging of the Greek "claim" to Anatolia/Asia minor (i.e. the whole of Turkey apart from the Kurdish part) illustrates my point. Small issues, such as the "ownership" of islands should not be used to justify ownership of vast areas of Mediterranean Sea to an unreasonable extent and for exclusionary purposes.

In your descent into abuse, you appear to assume that I am Turkish - I am not and I am not a Muslim either.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 5:57 utc | 53

BTGX @52

I am not talking about rights that are legally justified by "ownership" - what I am saying is that the whole of the Mediterranean Sea and its resources should be shared fairly and reasonably by all nations of the Mediterranean.

The proposed gas pipeline is just an example where a small group of nations (Israel, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus and the US - The Group) have got together to grab what they can for themselves and exclude others.

Your argument is essentially we have the legal right, we are recognised under international law, therefore we can do what we like, we can have it all, and you, who have been excluded, you will have nothing. But, anyone can see that this is unreasonable and the path to disaster.

But in some ways all this is now moot. The pipeline appears to be really about Israeli gas and the lack of wisdom in trying to exclude Turkey. If The Group has any sense they will share the booty with Turkey. If not, they will get Greece to sink a Turkish ship - the outcome won't be good for Greece.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 6:15 utc | 54

The second map you show, the one displayed by the turks, seems incorrect. Cyprus looks too much west, and it's angle is different.

Posted by: alain | Dec 18 2019 6:48 utc | 55

I doubt that Turkey will war with Egypt in Libya or anywhere else. The Turkish people tolerate the invasion of Syria for the reasons of the PKK and the hope that the Syrian refugees will return home from Turkey. The Syrian refugees are not particularly welcome here, particularly in Istanbul. The people also tolerate the Syrian incursion because the Turkish military is using proxies to do the dirty work.

I doubt that the Turkish people would look favorably at Turkey getting involved with large numbers of its own troops in Libya to save the MB. Even most of Erdogan's supporters wouldn't support that. Libyan support will be restricted to military aid to the GNA in weapons/drones, and some advisors possibly. Erdogon isn't a complete fool. What you see is mostly posturing.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Dec 18 2019 6:55 utc | 56


Greece makes no claim on the Mediterranean, only the Aegean. Why do you keep saying Mediterranean again and again? You are muddling facts and being a little obdurate. Erdogan is responsible for his actions in fact, and the repercussions that may follow. There is no justice in denying or dismissing the territorial or sovereign rights of a country, or the right it has to its own resources

The reality of the diplomatic maneuvers is not clear, and it is reductive to frame the events in the way you do; since all the nations involved are contributing to the outcome. The object of these dangerous maneuvers is hidden from view, as it has been in the past. And it is not going to be explained to us beforehand. My intuition tells me that Greece is being staked out like a goat. Things really don't look too good for Libya either; as I don't think Erdogan aims to do them a favor.

These events can lead to a regional war. But I have no expectation that Greece will be helped by any of the feckless parties. And no help for Libya either. I am shocked at Erdogan's recklessness, but perhaps he has been assured of the support of one of the bigger contenders. He may be confident that in the event of a war between two NATO allies, dithering and inaction will be the undoing of Greeks. Their territory is legally theirs and the Turkish leader has no right under law to claim their resources.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 18 2019 7:05 utc | 57

Most of the "countries" in the world have been "owned" by others than their current owners many times over. Its kind of irrelevant that parts of today's Greece and the islands were "owned", or perhaps better, "occupied" by "Greeks" for many centuries.

Afterall, European descendants have only "owned" most of the US for little more than 150 years. The previous "owners", diverse as they may be, had been there since the last ice age.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Dec 18 2019 7:08 utc | 58

@55 me...

The map is distorted too concerning Rhodos.

Posted by: alain | Dec 18 2019 7:28 utc | 59

Blue Dotterel @ 58

I agree 100% with your comment. I was just making a counterpoint to ADKC's argument that Kastellorizo should not, somehow, be factored into these issues because it was "owned" at some point before by the Ottomans.

Posted by: BGTX | Dec 18 2019 8:04 utc | 60

- The turkish economy is in financial trouble and to distract the turkish people Erdogan starts this "new project.

Posted by: Willy2 | Dec 18 2019 8:16 utc | 61

Funny, when Turkey fights against a legitimate, UN-recognised government, such as the Syrian one, everyone is on its hind legs - fair enough - but when Turkey is on the side of a legitimate, UN recognised government, the same parties are on their hind legs again.

Why are Occupied Palestine, the Wahabbi head and limb choppers, souther Cyprus, and Egypt keeping Turkey out of their club? That same club is ultimately controlled by the OUTLAW, psychopath-run, blackmailing, sanctioning, belligerent, rogue empire-in-decline, a.k.a. the United Snakes of Israhell, and the UNI of course needs to punish Turkey for not following UNI diktat.

Posted by: Ernesto Che | Dec 18 2019 9:17 utc | 62

You know I've noticed for all the EVIL AMERICAN EMPIRE talk on MoA, very few seem to notice (or care about) the UK's role in this. Especially with regards to the City of London banks.
Did you know the British started the Muslim Brotherhood? What's that about?

Posted by: TIME POLICE | Dec 18 2019 9:24 utc | 63

@63 oh yes, they are still the remnant of an evil empire in their own right, and london seems to be the epicenter of finance these days; it's just that nowadays they look like a poodle that has been surgically attached to the back of the u.s.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Dec 18 2019 9:34 utc | 64

Erdoğan's Islamist gambit has been reactivated. It surged when brother Morsi was elected in Egypt, then went into zero sum mode when NATO destroyed Gaddhafi's Libya, despite Turkey And Libya having excellent trade relations. The war on Syria, hitherto Turkey's zero problems neighbour, was Erdoğan's ideological finale. Then everything went horribly wrong, although the alternative - things going right, was so ghastly as to be unimaginable. Possibly Erdoğan saw that he had been manipulated by the Clinton gang, so he transformed from MENA strutting Islamist to Turkish nationalist and consequently won a domestic election. He's canny, crafty and cunning as a cut snake. He deserves kudos for his survivability but let us not forget his leading role in these catastrophes. I'm certain that Russia hasn't.
So b I think there needs to be some examination of the force behind his actions and ideology :the Muslim Brotherhood. This global cult remains as inspiration and instigation despite some ebbing (Morsi's ouster, Hamas's severing of the MB connection, facilitated by Blair and Qatari money, President Assad's victory) and flowing (Ennhada's political ascension in Tunisia, the apparant alliance of Iran and MB sponsor Qatar).
Commentators have listed other elements of this dangerous quagmire :vulnerable Greece, bankrupt Lebanon, a freelancing U. S.State department, Atlanticist NATO, an instrumentalized "International community",divided Cyprus,leaderless,machinating Israel, pipelines.
But don't discount the allure of ideology. Erdoğan is still an unrepentant Islamist and the deluded dream of a globalised Brotherhood with himself as brother no.1 appears to have been reinvigorated.

Posted by: Australian lady | Dec 18 2019 9:34 utc | 65

Turkeys gambit provides significant opportunities for Putin who can switch sides for concessions from Turkey on Syria and NATO membership. Turkeys global realignment could put central Asia's indispensable nation in the Asian coalition ending washington s hope to be the dominant player in Eurasia

In any event, these new developments should prove that Washington and tel Aviv should be less focused on Iran than on turkey, the emerging power in the region.

This changes everything.

Posted by: Plantman | Dec 18 2019 11:13 utc | 66

Not exactly sure what to make of this.

Empire seems to be happy with the GNA/LNA divide as it stands: Haftar holds the oil wells and keeps the pumps going, while GNA joke-government in Tripoli keeps the jihadi brew stewing nicely.

Russia wants to extinguish the terrorist nest in Tripoli, as do the Egyptians, I wager.

But what is Erdogan's gambit there? Sicking on the egyptians who ousted his Muslim Brotherhood buddy? Holiday resort for his proxies? None of that sounds like worth the effort and risk versus payoff. The deal about boundaries is just ridiculous and does not stand up to any international treaties and laws. If he tries to enforce any of it, it will be close to an overt act of war, perhaps too close. Greeks may be triggered into escalation. All parties would lose in such a scenario, but Erdogan would lose most in a full scale confrontation involving multiple regional and global players.

I am reminded of the saying "whom the gods would destroy they first make mad" with respect to Erdogans expansionist moves.

Which brings me to the bizarre sequence of ADKC posts at the top of the thread. Did he drink the wrong kool aid at the Grey Wolf Döner?

International boundaries are as they are. Fairness is not an issue. If it were, Turkey could also invade North Iraq, because it is not fair that they have so much oil and poor Turkey has almost none. What did I say there, wait a minute...

If fairness in international territorial boundaries and distribution of natural resources was an honest issue for Turkey, then it should champion the issue first in an universal context, applying it to every nation in the world and proposing an updated version of international law and globally revised treaties before acting unilaterally.

Instead, the Turks obviously only care about their own perceived being wronged. Not much international diplomatic credibility being lost there anyway, I suspect.

The mistake the Turks made was to not have thoroughly ethnically cleansed the Aegean isles a century ago, when they could have still gotten away with the fait accompli (as have done the Americans and many other examples from history, including the very same Turks). You just can't get away with that stuff nowadays anymore.

The Greek islands that the Turks claim are (if inhabitable) inhabited by people who do not want to be Turks. Turkey got a maximum result with Cyprus, there are no similar situations for them to exloit anymore.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 18 2019 13:14 utc | 67

The discussion of islands reminds me of Britain's war for the Malvinas islands. Only much later did it emerge, as I recall, that the reason Britain wanted the Malvinas (Falklands) was so that it could claim a ridiculous chunk of Antarctica. Our world is run by thugs whose motivations are invariably utterly cynical and brutal. The worst of us 'lead' and the best of us hope things will turn out ok even so...

Posted by: paul | Dec 18 2019 13:17 utc | 68

The largest employer on the planet is the U.S. military.

In order to justify their existence, they have to heroically smite villains. This is hardwired in at the instinctual level. And the highly intelligent Pentagon organizers also know this consciously.

So the most important question in any conflict is, What is the US going to do when it shows up at the party?

Posted by: Imagine | Dec 18 2019 13:59 utc | 69

I fully agree with ADKC's analysis and thank him for his excellent observations. Korybko's article at the link Matthew provided is also very interesting.

I would like to add about Russia' role here. The Russian presence in Syria greatly enhances Turkey's flank to the South as it shields it from possible unnesecary moves from Israel.

Russia's support for Haftar is very dubious too, except some selfies on Red Square for the latter and possible weapons supplies for him (but they are just business :).

Russia can enter the fray and mediate between the parties for a win-win solution. Or blocking alternatives to Russian gas supplies to Southern Europe may serve them well too. So, the Russians have multiple choices here and helping Erdogan in his Lybian adventure or working as a mediator taking into account Turkish interests may be to their advantage.

ADKC, thanks again for the time you took to present the situation from the Turkish viewpoint as well, as this is what I was missing from the parties' motives :)

Posted by: BG | Dec 18 2019 14:21 utc | 70

@ BG | Dec 18 2019 14:21 utc | 69

The territorial expansionism of Erdogan has been obvious for a long time, how can you seriously claim that only ADKC presents that viewpoint? Do you also subscribe to ADKC's nonsensical reasoning in justifying the plain Turkish aggression?

Do you guys eat at the same döner restaurant?

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 18 2019 14:41 utc | 71

What I meant was that the Turkish viewpoint became clear to me and that it can be disregarded at Greece's and Co at their own peril.

Conflict between Greece and Turkey is unthinkable in terms of Western support for the former country. Greece will be alone as Turkey was when Turkey shot the SU24 and Georgia stumled into South Ossetia.

Posted by: BG | Dec 18 2019 15:14 utc | 72


I don’t know enough to agree or not. But, you make reasonable arguments.

For one, the “doorstep” analogy. It seems like now-dead imperial mapmakers tried their best to landlock Turkey.

Posted by: oglalla | Dec 18 2019 15:20 utc | 73

@Oglalla 72,
"Landlock" Turkey. Turkey is basically a peninsula: to the north, the Black Sea; to the West, the Marmara and Aegean; to the south, the Mediterranean. Hardly landlocked.

Posted by: Blue Dotterel | Dec 18 2019 15:56 utc | 74

Haftar has support from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia.

The only comment is that I think it’s not entirely correct to say that Russia supports Haftar. It sounds as if Russia is definitely on its side, and, therefore, the GNA is the "enemy side" for Russia.

Officials in the Russian government have repeatedly stressed that they do not prefer any of the parties to the conflict. In particular, in the Libyan conflict. This allows Russia to have good relations with all parties to the conflict, thereby pursuing an effective policy and achieving results.

Here is just one of the statements of Minister Lavrov:

Russia did not panic in response to the events it could not influence, events that were complemented with foreign interference and the incitement of public opinion [against the authorities]. We worked with absolutely all conflicting sides without exception, and we continue to do this in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Russia is probably the only country that is talking with all the conflicting parties without exception.

Franco Frattini mentioned Libya. Indeed, we hold meeting with the Tripoli government and the rival governments in Tobruk, Benghazi and Misrata. I would say that Syria is the best example in that all members of the Syrian opposition, including the most radical ones, come to Russia and meet with Russian officials.

Posted by: alaff | Dec 18 2019 16:14 utc | 75

@ blue 73

Very poor word choice on my part. But, a very small number of tiny islands given to one side helps that side, and its backers, exclude another from economic use of wide areas very close to it. What word or phrase can we use to describe this?

Posted by: oglalla | Dec 18 2019 16:39 utc | 76

Well, according to RT, Sistani said yesterday "We will not allow anyone to control Libya."

Posted by: juliania | Dec 18 2019 16:42 utc | 77

@ alaff | Dec 18 2019 16:14 utc | 74

Officials in the Russian government have repeatedly stressed that they do not prefer any of the parties to the conflict. In particular, in the Libyan conflict. This allows Russia to have good relations with all parties to the conflict, thereby pursuing an effective policy and achieving results.

Russian diplomatic language is highly prosaic and for those who appreciate the nuance can even be somewhat amusing. Consider how they will refer to the USA as "our partners" right when they are at loggerheads in Syria and while the new cold war in the Baltic area turns steamy.

I would say that Syria is the best example in that all members of the Syrian opposition, including the most radical ones, come to Russia and meet with Russian officials.

And then the Russian air force bombs some of these "partners" into pulp.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 18 2019 16:45 utc | 78

I don't see Egypt getting involved in anything but suppressing their own people. That is a full time job for Sisi. He has his hands full. Weakening himself by trying to take on Turkey would be a monumental mistake and probably create another window for the Muslim Brotherhood to seize power.

Posted by: goldhoarder | Dec 18 2019 17:22 utc | 79

Neither the Turkish nor Greek arguments convince me entirely. Both have some good claims and some ridiculous ones, but are both too partisan to work out a compromise. ADKC does bring up a number of good points, namely that the whole affair is about gas and pipelines. Specifically Egyptian, Israeli and Cypriot gas piped to Greece for sale in the EU.

The Americans have been hopped up on this idea for a long time as this pipeline would be in obvious competition with Russian gas. The US has bent over in support of Israel to bully Lebanon over where the maritime border lies between the two and also squeezes Syria's part of the pie.

It is completely valid to acknowledge, as ADKC points out, that the US, Israel, Cyprus, and Greece have been trying to squeeze Turkey out of the game. In my opinion, this is a far better explanation of the Turk-GNA agreement than Ottoman revanchism.

Personally I see this more as posturing and future leverage in negotiations than any major threat of conflict. Erdogan isn't in a position to send the calvary, he's got his hands full in Syria, with all the headache that goes along with it. Sisi's wouldn't rock the boat too hard either, as many Egyptians are tiring of his dictatorship and not just the MB. Greece and Israel are in no position for open conflict either which would guarantee to tank their economies instantly. This pretty much leaves material support and posturing.

Posted by: Don Wiscacho | Dec 18 2019 17:25 utc | 80

As I haven't read through all the comments I can't know whether anyone has mentioned this, but surely one of the most complicated parts to all this is that both Greece and Turkey are members of NATO. The US military has bases in both nations.

Posted by: Bryan Hemming | Dec 18 2019 17:42 utc | 81

@Don Wiscacho #79
I don't believe there is any dispute about what Turkey is doing around Cyprus - do you disagree?

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 18 2019 17:49 utc | 82

@oglalla | Dec 18 2019 16:39 utc | 75

Well, it is not a very small number of islands and they were not just given to Greece. Those islands are (and were) inhabited by Greeks and belonged to Italy before WWII. They were given to Greece as war reparations for Italy's invasion of Greece in WWII.

Turkey in general disputes the right of islands to have an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as defined by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In fact, Turkey is one of the few countries worldwide that has not ratified that treaty. ADKC talks only about Kastelorizo but if you look at the Turkish map, you will see that it disputes the EEZ of islands as big as Crete or Rhodes.

Posted by: Erlindur | Dec 18 2019 17:51 utc | 83

Anyone thinking that this is all about pipelines and none about neo-ottoman aspirations should do a web search for "erdogan national pact".

One of the hits is from the PTB house rag, foreign policy, and here is a cute little image from it:

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 18 2019 18:06 utc | 84

Oglalla @82 & Erlinder @82

I am talking "only about Kastelorizo" because in the context of b.'s article and the current dispute it is of crucial importance.

The following is quite a balanced article from the Independent Balkan News Agency on the implication for Kastellorizo and the EEZ:

Kastelorizo: The focal point for the EEZ in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean

Some extracts:

"Greece, according to its plans for the EEZ, wants to make Crete’s Kasos Rodos Kastellorizos line the basis for the demarcation of its territorial waters. With a possible delimitation of Greece’s EEZ with Egypt on the basis of the principle of the middle line and delimitation with Cyprus, the continental shelf and the Turkish EEZ are automatically confined to only an open point in the Mediterranean in the Gulf of Antalya.

Naturally for Turkey, Kastelorizo ​​is the focal point of the line that defines the Greek EEZ. Firstly, because from one side the line from Rhodes to Kastelorizo ​​closes all the Turkish coastline on the open seas and secondly on the other hand the line between Kastelorizo ​​and Egypt enables Greece to join its EEZ with that of Cyprus, thus limiting the maritime zones of Turkey.

Turkey argues that this situation is contrary to the principle of fairness, which is a priority in the cases of the delimitation of maritime borders. Kastelorizo ​​is close to Turkey’s beaches and is an obstacle for Turkey to use its rights in the maritime zones. In similar disputes, according to the principle of geography superiority, priority is given to the rights of the mainland. The central issue is the influence of Kastelorizo, ie the percentage that the island is entitled to an EEZ.

There are many examples with different percentages of influence. For example, the island cluster of Strofades in the South Ionian Sea has a 32% influence, having Peloponnese to the east and follows the line of the Ionian Islands (Eftanissa). Another example is the Danish island of Bornholm, located between Sweden, Germany and Poland.

If the issue goes to the International Court of Justice, Turkey may legitimately block the recognition of an EEZ or a continental shelf in Kastelorizo, effectively blocking the union of the Greek and Egyptian EEZ, and consequently that of the Greek with the Cypriot one; an argument that can be used as a means of negotiating the demarcation of the Greek and Turkish EEZs.

It is no coincidence that with the NAVTEX it issues from time to time in the area, for exercises and seismic surveys, Turkey wants to show that it has rights in the area, creating new legal conditions. All these are systematic manoeuvres, which, combined with the publication of maps mapping out its views on the design of the maritime borders, show that Turkey will not accept fait accompli in this region and will protect its rights decisively.

In addition, Turkey forwarded to the UN its objections to the law on hydrocarbons in Greece. Turkey argues that Greece’s unilateral effort, as is done in Kastelorizo, to define the external borders of the continental shelf is contrary to international law and to the rules in force.

Concerning the agreement on the demarcation of the EEZ between Egypt and Cyprus, Turkey rejects it on the grounds that the agreement violates the Turkish continental shelf on the 32nd 16′ 18′ meridian and, as such, in accordance with International Law, the agreement is void."


Greece, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and the US ganging up together to maximise what they can take and excluding and restricting others (Lebanon, Syria, Libya and Turkey) is what is so objectional and provocative in this current dispute.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 19:01 utc | 85

The following is an article from Middle Eastern Eye, dated 5th Oct 2019, that compares the competing Greek and Turkish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claims:

Turkey set for Cyprus offshore drilling, spiking tensions in the Mediterranean

Some extracts:

"Neither Turkey nor Greece has made official EEZ claims, but that hasn't stopped them from fighting over the territory they envision to be their own.

Athens has suggested that it could base its claim to an EEZ on the location of the island of Kasterlorizo, known as Meis in Turkey, which is just two kilometres off the coast of Turkey. Such a move would reduce the area that Turkey could claim as its EEZ from about 90,000 square kms to 26,000 square kms."

The article also has a diagram which shows the effect of a claim based on Kastellorizo (comparing competing Greek and Turkey claims).


It's obvious that Greek and Turkey are just resource grabbers, as are Israel, Egpyt, Cyprus and the US. This cabal just tried to exclude a country (Turkey) that was strong enough to stand up grab back.

This is case of a group of gangsters (Greece, Israel, Eygpt and the US) who tried to cut another gangster (Turkey) out of the deal. Now that gangster (Turkey) is shaking down the other gangsters (Greece, Israel, Eygpt and the US) and, if they want their pipeline, they are going to have cut Turkey into the deal.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 20:27 utc | 86

@ADKC 83,84

The issue of Kastelorizo is rather foggy and I guess that is why neither Greece or Turkey go to the International Court of Justice.

The topic of this post though, is the Turkey-Libya deal. This deal ignores islands like Crete an Rhodes. It is all derived from the fact that Turkey denies the right of an EZZ to all islands. You can see that in the maps of the artical in your 84 post. The maps (provided by the Turkish Navy) clearly ignore Crete, Rhodes and Cyprus EEZ.

So, according to Turkey, islands don't get an EEZ. Great news for UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Hawaii. I wonder if that applies to Australia as well, since it is a continent as well as an island.

Posted by: Erlindur | Dec 18 2019 20:48 utc | 87

Turkey and Greece use different arguments to justify their claims of an EEZ in the Aegean and Eastern Med.

Each side maintains a maximalist position. Turkey's position is that even Cyprus gets no EEZ due to being an island nation (by the same logic, the UK would only have 12 miles). Greece's position is that every inhabited island, no matter how small, can be used to divide EEZ on the basis of the midpoint rule. Given that position, any potential pipeline would run within Israel-Cyprus-Greek waters, thus the lack of consultation with Libya or Turkey.

It's hard to get to a compromise due to the huge political cost for either side. So both are hoping for a misstep of the other side to bring about a resolution in their favor.

Posted by: s | Dec 18 2019 21:00 utc | 88


I think encirclement would fit the bill. Closely related to Incirlikment, or so I've read. :O)

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Dec 18 2019 21:41 utc | 89


Thank you for your brilliant analysis. I felt obliged to post a link to Andrew Korybko's article, after having read this highly superficial and unfortunately biased article. The lack of reasoning and dialectic thinking of the author in this article is truly annoying, as he had many sound and well written articles in the past. I really could not comprehend his biased stand and the reason for it. Furthermore, several comments underneath gave me the impression that some of those people are just talking the talk without a slightest idea regarding the geopolitical realities of the region. Some are obvious partisans and try simply to troll/insult your very well articulated analysis.

Posted by: Matthiew | Dec 18 2019 21:53 utc | 90

ADKC @ 85, 86:

Add France and Germany to the cabal of Greece and others. The French and Germans supplied Greece with huge amounts of armaments over the decades, the Germans and Siemens AG in particular operating through cash-4-contracts deals with Greek government officials. Even when Greece was forced to go onto austerity, the country was still required to honour all its contracts with French and German companies to buy weapons, other armaments and military equipment.

And as Bryan Hemmings @ 81 notes, both Greece and Turkey are NATO members. Who would France and Germany rush to defend, in the event of attacks on both Greece and Turkey?

Posted by: Jen | Dec 18 2019 22:00 utc | 91

@ADKC 50
It is not only the US that is involved. Greece is a state of the European Union. The European Parliament is proposing the establishment of a European Defence Union. In the event of an attack on Greece by a non EU power - Turkey, it is certain that the sympathy within the Union would be overwhelmingly with Greece and there would be very strong pressure for EU to come the aid of Greece. Indeed this might even be welcomed by those EU states, most obviously France, who want to accelerate the process of defence union.

Posted by: Paul Cockshott | Dec 18 2019 22:06 utc | 92

@s | Dec 18 2019 21:00 utc | 88

The Greek position derives from UNCLOS, Article 121. This is international law. The maximalist part is that Greece takes full advantage of the letter of that law. At worst case, an International Court of Justice decision, especially in case of Kastelorizo, may simply lessen the effect this island has to Turkey's EEZ.

Turkish position is "I don't recognize International Law, islands have no EEZ and so I take half of the eastern Mediterranean and half the Aegean sea".

How do you compromise with that?

Posted by: Erlindur | Dec 18 2019 22:17 utc | 93

Matthiew @91

Thank you but...

b. isn't wrong, as such, he has just failed to appreciate Turkey's viewpoint and that it might have some validity. However, that is not surprising as Greece tends to get a very good press and Turkey tends to get a bad press. I do thing b. was mistaken to provide a diagram of the Greek EEZ claim and not also include the Turkish EEZ claim.

The specific thing that I wanted to convey was that Turkey's actions are not unexpected and are not unwarranted.

It is worth bearing in mind that none of the EEZ claims is "recognised" and the action of The Group (Greece, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and US) going ahead in the way they did was provocative and (as The Group well knew) bound to get a response Turkey. It is also noticeable that other (weaker) countries have been totally sidelined.

I don't believe that anyone was trolling me but some were partisan (although, they believed they were not).


The Black Sea arrangements might provide a model for peacefully carving up the Mediterranean Sea.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 22:22 utc | 94

ADKC, Turkey does not have international law on its side. Rather, it has thrown international law by the wayside. Any appeals to "fairness" are nonsequiturs, as Turkey couldn't care less about fairness if it isn't in its particular interests of that moment. Have another look at another fairly nice gem from the sultan:

Erdogan: “The Europeans sank boats with refugees in the Mediterranean”

Speaking at the World Refugee Forum, Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an attack against the EU claiming that their proposal was for boats to sink in order for the refugee flows to come to an end.

“Europeans mistakenly thought that Europe could protect itself from refugees with a barbed wire. In fact, we came across suggestions like for the inflatables filled with refugees in the Mediterranean to be sunken. They even punched holes in the boats and let the refugees drown in the Mediterranean waters”, the Turkish president argued in his speech from Geneva.

“There is more. For example, refugees from Afghanistan are currently traveling to Iran to reach Europe via Greece. And what can we do? We have to send them back to Afghanistan”, Erdogan said.

The fact that the Turkish President was proposing a co-exploitation of Syrian oil for the benefit of the refugees raised eyebrows. “We created in our border with Syria a 120 km-long and 30 km-deep safe zone, and this way we cleared a 8200-square-foot area from terrorist organizations. I too make a call. Come and co-exploit the oil that is found in those wells”, Erdogan stressed in his speech from Geneva.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 18 2019 22:56 utc | 95

Erlinder @87 & @94

The Greek and Turkish EEZ remain just claims. I understand that it is very hard (impossible) to get an EEZ recognised when another nation objects.

So The Group (Greece, Israel, Eygpt, Cyprus and the US) decided to act as if the Greek EEZ was recognised in order to establish "facts on the ground". Turkey responded with its own "facts on the ground".

You have conceded that the issue of Kastelorizo is "rather foggy", this means that the Greek EEZ cannot be regarded as safe to recognise, the pipeline planned to go through the Greek EEZ cannot therefore proceed, but it appears to be going ahead. Turkey responded with the "Turkey/Libyan Maritime Zone", now it appears the pipeline can't go ahead. The Group can accuse Turkey of acting "illegally" if they wish but The Group are acting "illegally" as well.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 23:01 utc | 96

Lurk @98

1. The Group (Greece, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus and US) are just as bad (in some cases much worse).

2. The Turkish and Greek (and other) EEZ are just claims and cannot be described as legally recognised under international law.

3. There is no evidence to suggest that Greece or any of The Group care anymore about fairness that you claim Turkey does. Nonetheless, fairness is the only way forward.

Posted by: ADKC | Dec 18 2019 23:19 utc | 97

Lurk | Dec 18 2019 22:56 utc

Your link to the sultanic speech does not work. I am always keen on unusual unit conversions, in this case "120 km-long and 30 km-deep safe zone" "cleared a 8200-square-foot area from terrorist organizations". A rectangle of 1.2 x 10^5 m2 by 3 x 10^4 m2 has more than 4.4 x 10^10 square feet, with less than 10^4 of them being cleared from terrorists organization, the proportion of safe zone that is cleared is minute, less than one part per four million. That may be accurate, jihadists on Turkish payroll roaming through the rest of the safe zone...

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 18 2019 23:22 utc | 98

More Erdofun!

In The Independent:

Erdogan threatens to recognise killings of Native Americans as genocide in response to Armenia resolution

'It is a shameful moment in US history,' says Turkish president

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to recognise the killing of Native Americans at the hand of European settlers in a tit-for-tat attack on Washington’s decision to rebuke Ankara for the Armenian genocide.

The US Senate voted in favour of recognising the genocide last week, a move initially stalled by Republicans at the urging of Donald Trump - who had been due to meet with the Turkish leader at the time.

However, with the bill now passed, Mr Erdogan has threatened to respond by recognising US killings of Native Americans – saying the deaths of millions of indigenous people at the hands of European settlers should also be viewed as a genocide.

Speaking on the pro-government A Haber news channel, he said: “We should oppose [the US] by reciprocating such decisions in parliament. And that is what we will do.

“Can we speak about America without mentioning [Native Americans]? It is a shameful moment in US history”

I am almost inclined to agree with Erdogan. But it would be more 'fair' of him if he was motivated by genuine concern for the first nation Americans, as opposed to the blatant whataboutism that is the apparent motive for this opportunistic channeling of grievances over being called out for the Turkish genocides of the past.

Posted by: Lurk | Dec 18 2019 23:29 utc | 99

@ADKC | Dec 18 2019 23:01 utc | 99

Post numbers are a bit off cause I guess b moderated some new posts in between. You know which 99 I refer to.

This is not about pipelines. UNCLOS, Article 79 gives very few options to deny a pipeline. Unless Turkey gets a fully recognized EEZ, it cannot do anything to stop a pipeline.

This is about drilling rights. Unfortunately for Turkey, drilling rights come packaged with companies that have to prove that they are not breaking the law while drilling.

Last, I wonder... What if Greece goes to International Court of Justice with Egypt instead of Turkey to determine Greek-Egypt EEZ. Will that throw Turkey out of the game completely?

Posted by: Erlindur | Dec 18 2019 23:37 utc | 100

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