Tensions Flare in East Mediterranean Gas Scramble

Tensions Flare in East Mediterranean Gas Scramble

Saturday, 24 February, 2018 - 05:45
An aerial view taken on July 30, 2015 shows the Tamar Israeli gas rig. AFP photo
Nicosia - London - Asharq Al-Awsat
The scramble for gas in the Eastern Mediterranean is fueling tensions across the region.

Off the divided island of Cyprus on Friday, Turkish warships forced back an Italian drillship after a two-week standoff, Agence France Presse reported.

At the same time the US is trying to mediate between foes Israel and Lebanon as they spar for control along a disputed maritime border where Beirut is looking to catch up.

Egypt, which sits on the region's biggest gas reserves and has a key agreement with Cyprus that allows development, has also traded angry barbs with Ankara.

But Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have little incentive to give way.

"I don't think Turkey is willing to spark a confrontation, but I think it cannot be fully dismissed," said analyst Andrew Neff from IHS Markit.

"If one of these drillships wanders too far into disputed waters then I think we'll see Turkey engage in some additional 'gunboat diplomacy' in defence of its interests," Neff added.

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